PINKNOISE is the product of the uber-talented Singh family (Jayashree, Gyan and Jivraj) and guitar genius Amyt Datta. Indiecision caught up with Jayashree Singh.
Skinny Alley (Jayashree Singh, Gyan Singh, Amyt Datta, Jeffrey Menezes, Jeffrey Rikh) is perhaps one of the most well recognised names in the Indian independent music scene. With over a decade of music and two albums to their name, the band has achieved more than most and doesn’t look like it’s letting up. Which is why a project like PINKNOISE is a surprise. PINKNOISE’s music isn’t like Skinny Alley’s at all. It’s airy, with plenty of space for improvisation, but with a form that can clearly define a song from just a ‘jam’.
I disturb the very amiable Jayashree Singh in the afternoon with the request for an interview. She’s on IM and I’m telling her that she needs to send me hi-res images. We agree on an email interview but as we’re chatting, I realise an opportunity. Here’s the chance to really press her about PINKNOISE; find out why a group of successful musicians would want to create a separate entity for a music project with essentially the same group of successful musicians. Apart from the music itself, what makes the project creatively different for those involved, and as a result, for those listening. So with IM as the channel, I press.
Take the jump for the complete interview.
“Jiver (Jivraj) suddenly started sitting on the (drum) kit about two and a half years ago. He’d never shown any interest in any instrument before, though he grew up with a band (Skinny Alley)” says Jay, explaining the origins of the band. “Amyt spends all his time in the music room (yes we are lucky to have a dedicated music room in our house) and started jamming with Jiver. Gyan and I actually didn’t even know that our son was playing (the room is well sound-proofed) the drums until we walked in for a Skinny Alley rehearsal one evening and found these two playing some bizarre thing. We got really excited and Gyan plugged in his bass and I picked up the mic and we started jamming just like that. In a month’s time we’d written about six tunes and pinknoise was on its way.”
But obviously there’s an overlap here with Skinny Alley. The difference, musically, is that Skinny Alley is far more mainstream in the sense that the songwriting is ‘pre-arranged’. “We know the format a particular song will have. It’s quite conventional for the most part. The PINKNOISE tunes are much more linear in the sense that they need not be cyclical. We go from section to section sometimes never coming back to the earlier sections. This is mainly because Jivraj is a very unconventional drummer and thinks as much texturally as he does rhythmically.”
The difference reflects in the way the band performs live as well. Over the last two years, pinknoise has played over 30 shows. “I find I am much more outgoing when I am singing with Skinny Alley as I am in complete control over the music I am singing. The PINKNOISE songbook is much more demanding and my connect with the audience is not so much as I am trying to rise to the challenge of the songwriting. pinknoise definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone into alien territory.”
In a place like India however, does an angular, experimental band have an audience that recognises and can knowledgeably take in such a musical project? The role of the audience in such a performance is obviously different from say Skinny Alley. “We’ve done gigs in some very unlikely places and have had people coming to us and saying they really liked it. Of course having said that, I don’t know to what extent they really understand it. But hey, music doesn’t need to be understood to be appreciated” says (types) Jay.
I get the feeling that there’s far more to this venture than just a ‘side project’. I see an album, a tour; four months after the album, an EP of remixes and maybe even a live DVD shot in a smoky bar. But sadly, the case is different. Jay explains “There cannot be a plan for PINKNOISE. Jiver cannot be replaced and he will go away for his masters (film school) next year and that will be that. Which is why we want to record, maybe a double album.”
So the end of PINKNOISE is near and all we’ll be left with is an album of cautiously wild creative music. This is music the Indian independent music scene needs. Till then, check out PINKNOISE at myspace.com/pinknoiseindia