Apartment Upstairs' new EP, 4 Year Escalator, is a smooth blend of styles
Naming a band is one of the most critical decisions that musicians have to make
Naming a band is one of the most critical decisions that musicians have to make. For vocalist-guitarist Rohan Pai and drummer Shourjo Chatterjee of the band ‘Apartment Upstairs’, the name came from one of their favourite American TV series How I Met Your Mother. The duo—they are Ashoka University alumni who now live in Bengaluru—has made a name in the Indian music circuit for their music that is inspired by funk, soul, and jazz. Their five-piece EP 4 Year Escalator, which launched in June 2021, is a representation of how the duo has grown musically following their debut EP and a year of the pandemic. Collaborating with different musicians for a few songs, their EP is a mix of upbeat rock, moody jazz, and dreamy soul music. In this week’s Soundscape, we speak to Pai about the band’s musical inspiration and more.
Where do you draw inspiration from when composing music?
We like to take our time with new songs. They are not always based around lyrical concepts. For instance, we thought Star Tonight was largely dreamy, but it had intimate moments, which led to us writing about something we have struggled with—stage fright and nervousness but also being excited to perform. Similarly, Sleeping in Time felt like it had a ‘bigger than life’ feel to it, and that led us to writing about experiencing the force of nature of the sea.
What would you say the songs in your EP 4 Year Escalator represent?
We wanted to create songs that were musically ambitious and had some continuity between them. We also wanted to incorporate ‘switches’ into our songs—moments that shift the genre or direction of each song midway, to create a little unpredictability and surprise for listeners.
Why did you decide on blending genres in this EP?
Each of these songs was a way of trying to fit in some of the great modern music we had discovered across genres. Sometimes blending genres was not what we had first imagined when we started writing the track, it felt like putting pieces together from different puzzles. In a way, it is a reflection of how complicated we are as people, continuously confronting a blend of different feelings
Are you working on any upcoming projects?
We are trying to look inwards. What we see nowadays is a surge in independent musicians replicating the West. We want to represent our culture and we are constantly looking for inspiration to see how we can craft this unique sound. We have mainly been listening to a lot of 60s to 80s
Bollywood music. That is going to form the foundation for the next project, making listeners reminisce about the Golden Era of mainstream Indian music by reintroducing it with modern production.
‘4 Year Escalator’ by Apartment Upstairs is streaming on all leading platforms
Album artwork by Rutwij Paranjape
Album - 4 Year escalator
Artist - apartment upstairs