One of the biggest bands of the country ‘Indian Ocean’ recently released their sixth studio album ‘Tu Hai’ after a gap of nine years.
While their last album Tandanu was an instant hit among fans, Tu Hai takes it a notch higher with six songs that have all the flavours of folk and fusion, a style distinctive to Indian Ocean and much more. Not only that, the album explores themes around climate change and environment at large.
Whether it’s ‘Jaadu Maaya’ , a brilliant song penned by Varun Grover or Iss Tan Dhan that showcases a stellar collaboration between Pt Vikku Vinayakram and Indian Ocean, there is something store in for everyone, irrespective of your inclination towards certain genres. In an exclusive interview with News18 Show, Indian Ocean revealed the reason behind the long gap between Tandanu and Tu Hai, about the philosophy of the band, the album itself and more.
Read the excerpts here:
So there is a long gap between your last studio album Tandanu and Tu Hai, what the reason behind that?
Himanshu Joshi: We are a lazy bunch as they say and there are gaps between our albums. We had actually prepared this album much before it was released now. Unfortunately there was this Covid which held us back for two or three and a half years. We’ve been playing these numbers in our gigs earlier. So we had it prepared beforehand but it took us time to serve the audience. Certain circumstances that were beyond our control, certain circumstances which we could have controlled. But that’s the way we are.
What’s the story behind Tu Hai? When was the seed of Tu Hai was sown and how you guys nurtured it into a blossoming tree it is today?
Nikhil Rao: We are a slightly demanding band. We demand a little bit out of our listeners. It’s a 50 minute album, it has six songs. As an aside, there was one song which was released as a single in the first month of Covid ‘Akhiyan Udeek Diya’. So the process is that we keep making the songs at our own pace. We take slightly longer than the industry standards but that’s the way it has been and I don’t see that really changing. Like Himanshu said, we thought we had the album ready before Covid and we lost three years there. And there was no real idea or concept of even the fact that the album will be called ‘Tu Hai’. We just kept making the songs and all this collaboration happened when we were in the process of living life. Varun Grover contributed a song. We got an opportunity to play with the Ghatam master Pt Vikku Vinayakaram. We got to play with the American Saxophone George Brooks. So it just kept on happening. But when we sat to chat about album release, we noticed there was a distinct theme in the songs philosophically or seemed to be some narrative structure which was not forced. Now we are telling people that this album is about climate change and environmental issues which is actually a very broad canvas. We hope people will make time for it. It took time and there seems to be some theme and we keep talking about it, we keep writing about it. Because it’s just us musicians and artists trying to reflect on our times and what we see around.
Jaadu Maaya apart from being a beautifully arranged song is complimented by some hard-hitting lyrics that draw a lot of parallels to the kind of time we are living in socially, politically, culturally. What does that song signify for you guys?
Himanshu Joshi: Please try to understand that we don’t comment deliberately on anything. We are not politically, socially aligned in any kind of a geo-political or socio-political issues. We all live in a particular environment and when the environment affects us in any way, I think it affects everybody equally. The album is not a deliberate political attempt. We don’t question these kinds of issues ever. We are musicians and we stay in a society. It’s not just an Indian society but a global society that we live in today. In times of today, there are certain things that we feel strongly about and it kind of subliminally gets reflected in our songs. But there is nothing like a deliberate attempt at maligning somebody or saying something about someone. For us, it’s a broad way issue. Some things that are going on for millennia. It’s not just limited to today’s world or situations. The thought process comes from there essentially. This song is something that has been brewing from the time we started making music for Masaan. We had made a particular tune and it didn’t work out in the film but Varun said that he would write something for us and he did. And it’s brilliant writing on his part. It always is and it comes out from the megamind of his. The word that he uses for instance ‘थेथर’. It’s such a word that you have to actually understand what it means. There are some beautiful lines like ‘Ye Boodhi Kachda Gaadi Hai Jo Dhakke Dhakke Chalti Hai, Ye Itni Thakurbadi Hai Ab Jo Muh Dhak Ke Chalti hai’. These kinds of things only come out of somebody who has read a lot and experienced a lot. And he knows that we are the kind of people who get affected by these things and we have to do justice to what he has written. So that is the evolution of Jaadu Naya.
Talking about your song from Masaan, it has attained a cult status. It’s a perfect song that people would call evergreen in the coming times. Can you recall some memories of recording that song?
Nikhil Rao: Oh there is an interesting anecdote behind ‘Tu Kisi Rail Si’ from Masaan. Neeraj Ghayawan was a first time film-maker. He had just quit his corporate job and got into film-making. So he came and gave us the script. We read it and chatted with him. We had no idea about how big this thing would be. So a band bullies a first time film-maker that we know our craft from the past 20 years. You’ve come to our space so pay attention to how things go around here. We gave him a tune which he rejected. So we felt slightly bad. We gave him another tune and he rejected that as well. We gave him the third tune, he rejected that. Then Rahul Ram called him up and scolded him by saying ‘Tu Kya Kar Raha Hai? Tu confused film-maker hai?’. And then we went to Mumbai for a performance and then he invited us to his studio and we saw the film. And that’s when we were blown away. We were really shocked to see what he had made because it was its own animal. It was a thousand times better than the script. After we saw some of the visuals, we gave him another tune which turned out to be the version of the first tune that he had rejected. Then he accepted that and then we talked about who would sing it? Will Mohit Chauhan sing it? Will Rahul Ram sing it? He told us that he wanted a slightly younger voice for the song. Many things happened and we had an interesting and eventful recording day. Mohit Chauhan who was supposed to turn up did not and then we approached Swanand Kirkire who had already seen the film and he wanted to sing. We called him at 9 AM and he showed up at the studio at 10:30 AM and we nailed the song. So it was a crazy experience.