Sanam lends its soulful voice for the ICC World Cup anthem, Way-O, Way-O
Known popularly for its rendition of old classic Bollywood songs alongside writing and producing original songs, Sanam band, comprising of Sanam Puri, Samar Puri, Venkat Subramaniyam and Keshav Dhanraj, is back with another track. However, this time it has lent its soulful voice to ICC Cricket World Cup anthem Way-O, Way-O. Written by Sonal Dabral (Ogilvy) and curated by composer Michael (Mikey) McCleary, the anthem is in association with Uber and features five singers/bands from various parts of the world - Jamaica’s Jahmiel, UK’s Catherine Taylor Dawson, New Zealand’s Simba Diallo and South Africa’s choir group Khayelitsha United Mambazo alongside Sanam. Ahead of the launch of the anthem, we spoke to the band about the track and its upcoming projects. Excerpts from the interview:
1. Tell us about World Cup's anthem Way-O, Way-O. What made you come on board?
Sanam Puri: Mikey McCleary contacted me and told me everything about the anthem. It got me really excited and then I told the band about it. Recording for Mikey is always challenging because he pushes the best out of you and takes you out of your comfort zone but I've always enjoyed recording with him. He's an amazing person. Uber’s anthem for the World Cup, Way-O, Way-O, is a song to energize fans at one of the world’s most anticipated sports tournaments - the Cricket World Cup, 2019. We are confident that the anthem will resonate with fans across the world.
2. How was your experience of collaborating with other global singers and bands for this anthem? Who is your favourite?
SP: We are extremely thrilled to be a part of Way-O, Way-O alongside so many talented global artists. The thought behind the anthem was to spread cheer and foster a feeling of togetherness, irrespective of geographical barriers. And, I believe, the song has turned out really well and will relate to people across nations. The process was that everyone recorded in their own country and sent their vocal files to Mikey who mixed them all together. The process was very interesting, and it was refreshing to hear how everyone sounded on the final track. My favourite is Khayelitsha United Mambazo from South Africa and their gospel-inspired choir parts in the song.
3. What are your learnings from this collaboration? And, what would be a dream collaboration for you?
Samar Puri: We are so used to shooting on our own where we direct and do the production work. I personally edit the videos we make. So, this was a good experience where we didn’t have to worry about anything other than our performance in the video. The team was really sweet and professional. The DOP and Director were very clear about what they wanted, which made it really easy for us.
4. How big a fan of Cricket World Cup are you?
Keshav Dhanraj: All four of us enjoy playing and watching cricket. Whenever we get time off from work, we try to squeeze in a small game of cricket. It is such an unpredictable game and that’s what makes it interesting. We look forward to days where we can play cricket.
5. Coming to Bollywood, what is it that repels you from playback singing? Will it change in future and will we see you singing more playback songs?
SP: It was never my aim to be a playback singer. Initially, when I used to record demos for music directors, I used to feel extremely suffocated because I knew that I was forcing myself to somehow fit into the film industry. I was meeting everyone only because everyone told me that I won’t survive if I don’t meet and make contacts in the industry. I said to myself, even if it is true, it doesn’t serve my soul’s purpose... and that is freedom. So, unless I’m really interested and have time to work on a playback song, the band SANAM occupies all my time and energy.
6. What is the main difference between singing for a film vs singing for your band?
SP: I always wanted to make my own songs and sing them the way I wanted to. I am not too good at singing the way people want to hear me. I enjoy singing when I feel like singing and I get this freedom when I work at my own pace with the band. In films, I have always lost the freedom to be myself. I am not too good at taking suggestions and opinions, it blocks me from expressing what I really feel. Unless it’s my own composition, I need more time to understand the song — not just learn the melody and lyrics but I love to hear and absorb the soul of the song, which at times can take days.
7. Most of your work has been with Vishal-Shekhar be it Dhat Teri Ki, Ishq Bulaava or Fakira, how did this relationship begin?
SP: Our manager Ben Thomas introduced me to them. At that time, Ben was managing Vishal and Shekhar. They first heard our original Teri Aankhon Se and after that, I have always felt very comfortable recording with them and their songs. It’s outstanding how quickly they can come up with melodies. And, they don’t give me a brief or anything. They just gave me my space, let me be, and say, ‘Just do your thing.’ It’s their vibe! I want to thank them for trusting me with such amazing compositions.
8. You are often associated with romantic songs. Is it your comfort place? Or, has it become your image? Also, is there any genre you are eager to experiment with?
Venky S: The band SANAM has a sound that is derived from good vocal melodies, an adornment of vocal harmonies and simple yet catchy arrangements. So romantic songs fit the bill. There is definitely a lot of music styles/genres that we like and have been wanting to include in our compositions. Hopefully, 2019 will be a start towards doing that.
9. You are referred to as India's One Direction. Does it feel good or does it add pressure?
VS: It’s a compliment! One Direction was hugely successful in their time. We, however, are a pop/rock band (lead vocals/keys, guitar, bass and drums). So, we are quite different from them in that aspect. But it’s important for us to work towards achieving that level of success. We’ve got a long road ahead of us!
Ben Thomas adds: The pressure is great as long as it drives us to be a better version of ourselves as people and as musicians. I try to keep them focused singularly in getting better at their craft and not let anything dampen their spirit.
10. What's next for the band SANAM? Tell us about your upcoming projects - any album launch this year?
Samar Puri: Well, we’ve got a very exciting year ahead. A lot of travels for video shoots and music concerts across the world; a new music album hopefully by the end of the year; more renditions, interesting collaborations with other artists. Our manager Ben Thomas keeps us on our toes.