Chennai-based band, Jatayu lets us in on the making of their latest EP, MoodSwings
Going by statistics alone, globally, people turned to music to drive away their isolation blues (with Swedish streaming giant, Spotify reporting 155m paid users in the final three months of the year). But it wasn’t just the fans that turned to their favourite artistes to keep them grounded during the pandemic. Musicians too found solace in their favourite art form. Ask Chennai-based act, Jatayu and they cannot help but concur. “We had a pan-India tour planned for 2020 and because of the pandemic, it was cut short. And that really ruined our motivation to do anything. But, we soon realised we had to focus our energy into working on new things and that’s what gave birth to so many new ideas and songs,” begins guitarist and manager, Sahib Singh, on how the lockdown affected the band’s trajectory and fast-tracked the launch of their latest four-track EP, MoodSwings.
We caught up with the four-piece outfit — also including guitarist Shylu Ravindran, Manu Krishnan (drummer for The Casteless Collective, thrash metal band Chaos and progressive metal band Escher’s Knot), and bassist Kashyap Jaishankar, ahead of their release gig in the city tomorrow. Excerpts:
Tell us about MoodSwings. How did you conceive the EP, and did the lockdown influence how it eventually sounded?
Kashyap: The songs on MoodSwings are some of the oldest pieces that Shylu wrote as he was teaching himself the guitar. These are songs that we have been performing live for a long time but didn’t really seem to fit into the concept of Chango Tales. So, when we were working on the first EP, we decided that these songs should have their own release because they define the way the band has changed from when it began to where it is now. The lockdown has definitely influenced the sound. The songs are now vastly different from their pre-lockdown versions. We ended up looking at these songs in ways we hadn’t before, because of all the free time we had. There was no time/money pressure since we tracked most of the songs ourselves at home. It proved to be far more relaxing and easy for us, and we were able to experiment freely with new parts and sound design, and I think that shows in how the songs have come out.
Sahib: Our approach to the whole recording process was very different as well, since we were all stuck at home and had to figure out how to record all the songs ourselves without compromising on quality. We had a lot of room to experiment with sound design and post-production which is something we have always wanted to try.
When it comes to instrumental music, it can be interpreted in more ways than one. So, how does one make sure the EP translates into one cohesive idea or theme?
Kashyap: This one is a little tricky. There are a few different aspects to look at when creating the theme of an EP and how to go about executing it. With Chango Tales, the concept was the story of the character Chango — so everything was about servicing the story. With MoodSwings, the concept is a little more open-ended because it’s our story. It’s a story of experimentation with culture, melody, rhythm, harmony, sound and emotion.
Run us through the songs on MoodSwings. What can we look forward to?
Shylu: Describing Jatayu’s sound or songs is a lot more difficult to explain than to actually play them. Those who have been following our music would be surprised to see how our songs like 69 or MoodSwings sound now. For others, it’s an album packed with ragas, harmonies, time signatures changes and lots of interesting mathematics.
The idea of the EP is hinged on the idea of evolution, how do you think the band has grown since the release of Chango Tales?
Manu: The concept of making music as a band is different from making music as a producer or solo artist. It’s an evolution of members who are involved, development of your music and how it fits in the group, understanding your bandmates music and where his music comes from, and finally coming to the point where everybody is on the same page and knows the direction of the whole band.Chango Tales was an initial step for us in that direction. The journey from there has taught us more about ourselves, our music and how to bring out what we visualise.
The last time we spoke, following the release of Chango Tales, you mentioned you had other EPs in the works. Run us through the progress.
Sahib: Oh, we have been very busy through the lockdown. We have currently recorded a single with vocalist Harini Iyer and we will be featuring another artist on this track which is set for release in May. Look out for this one, it blew us away. There is also another EP in the works, which is set to release around June. Post that, we have a few more singles lined up with various other artistes.
Rs 499. On February 20, 6.30 pm. At Alliance Française of Madras.