Mumbai, the ‘City of Dreams,’ has long been an epicentre for artistic expression and cultural diversity. The recent When Chai Met Toast concert in Mumbai turned out incredible. The audience cheered and applauded as the band mounted the stage. The audience were taken on an emotional trip through the band’s music, starting with the opening chords of their EP ‘Love You The Same’ and with the energetic beats of Firefly and other epic tunes. Ashwin Gopakumar, the band’s lead vocalist, gave each song’s lyrics his all while the band’s instrumental proficiency was evident in every note.
When Farhan Akhtar onto the stage and enthralled the crowd with his most recent song, ‘Take Me Home,’ which featured the band themselves, things dramatically flipped.
The band talks about their most recent EP, Love You The Same, their career thus far, their most recent Bollywood collaborations, and the fantastic experience of working with the OG, Farhan Akhtar in this exclusive interview with News18.com.
Excerpts from the Interview:
How did the band come up with the unique name ‘When Chai Met Toast’?
It doesn’t have a special meaning or a story behind it. No special story but, it’s just four of us creating music together. People have come up with stories that it’s Chai being Indian and Toast being Australian. To be honest, no big story behind it.
Many people describe your music as a fusion of Indian folk and pop. Could you describe the musical influences that helped to create your sound?
I think four of us have different tastes. I think that’s what made us genre-based. Ashwin, Pai and myself (Palee Francis) were in a metal band. So we tried to incorporate breakdowns in our songs to make it easier when you hear what is us. We also have divided responsibilities. Palee has a studio in Kochi where most of the production stuff happens. Pai and Palee mostly sit on the directing and stuff. Me and Ashwin focus on the songwriting, the lyrics and all that. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Not just in India but also abroad, you have grown in popularity. What aspects of your music do you believe connect with listeners from various cultural backgrounds?
We necessarily do not write for a certain culture or a set of people. We write what we feel and the emotions come through, whatever it is. It is as honest as possible from our end. We are glad that people connect to it. People take that to heart and people come back to listen to us live as well. We do not put an extra effort. I think the effort that we put is through songwriting and sitting together and doing what we love. It is the best of all abilities at that point.
You often incorporate upbeat and cheery songs in your music. How significant is it to the band that their songs promote happiness and positivity?
It is the emotions that we are going through at that point of life. There are songs about heartbreak, positivity, belief, western music. Songs about celebration. It is about what we feel at that point of time. If we are in love, we write about love. If we are in a breakup, we write about breakup. If we are eating something, we write about that.
When We Feel Young, your debut record, has received a warm reception. Can you provide us some details on the themes and stories that the album erupted with?
We wrote the album during the pandemic. The production of it happened during the pandemic. We got a lot of time to revisit lyrics, arrangements, production. The themes behind it are experiences. When We Feel Young is about eternal love. We are inspired by the love that we see around us. Our parents, people that we admire, grow old together in love. That is what the song is about. When We Feel Young is about losing somebody at a crucial point of time. There are so many songs. It is a set of emotions that we have gone through during that period of time. That came about when we released When We Feel Young. All of our different emotions are put together into one single piece.
The music business heavily relies on collaboration. Do you have any favorite musicians or artists with whom you would like to work?
We have just begun collaborating. We just put out a song yesterday with Farhan Akhtar. It is called Take Me Home. That is one collaboration we did recently. He was damn chill, Very humble, down to earth. Very easy to work with. We just went into the studio and he was just chilling with us, talking to us. He has done a lot of indie music himself. We had a lot of common circle friends and people that we could talk on a lot of relatable topics.
Since the band’s beginning, how has it changed? Has their approach to music undergone any notable adjustments or milestones?
All three of us have lost hair. (laughts) We have gotten a beard which is okay. So yes, evolution has happened. But in terms of music, I think you guys can tell. We try to add on new sounds. We try to experiment with a lot of things. Necessarily not sticking to some instrument, we also try to electronically enhance the music. Which works. It’s been rewarding. Hopefully people also like it.
What advice would you offer to budding musicians hoping to establish themselves in the independent music scene?
I would say work on your craft rather than looking for shortcuts. I have been seeing through the years, young generation, they are using a lot of shortcuts to get to do music. They keep forgetting the scales or the melodies. What is the true root of the music they are forgetting? They are just taking shortcuts. Don’t take that. Work on your skill.
And at the same time, I feel, work your asses off. Because we have not got an easy at all. We have all lost our backs. Sometimes there is so much anxiety that kicks into you. You don’t know what you are doing. Is it true that what you are doing is right or what you are doing is wrong? Obviously a lot of doors will open at the end of the day. You will hit a lot of doors that won’t open. But at the end of the day, something will open for you. Work your asses off. Like he said, work on your craft. Be hardworking.
Just put yourself out there. Success is not linear. It’s different for different people. Maybe you may do all the right things and still not become famous. But as long as you are happy doing music, then it’s nice.
Are there any forth-coming projects or tours that fans may anticipate soon?
We just released our latest EP in May. So this tour is mainly part of the LYTS EP launch tour. And that’s between UK, US and India. The EP is called LYTS – Love You The Same. We just released a new song with this movie called Friday Night Plan. It’s the climax song that plays on. It’s called Mazze Mein. That’s also out. There’s a collab with Farhan out. There’s more music for you to listen to before we come back. The rest of the season we are doing a lot of shows. We are coming back to Mumbai because this one got sold out. We are doing another show at NCPA next month. So that’s something we are excited about. There are more cities in India. Kolkata, Chennai. Some festivals are happening.