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Band of the month: Chennai Street Band – Score Short Reads

How was the band formed and when?

In 2015 , I (Srihari Jagannathan – Front Man/Music Producer) met Goutham healer (Drummer) on facebook requesting him to play for one charity gig that was happening in Ethiraj College chennai. We put up a set of musicians together and while jamming for the show me and gowtham shared a similar passion and vision to create our own music.

That’s how the Chennai Street Band was formed. We released our first indie single in 2017 , It was a bi-lingual single titled Udd Chal in Hindi and Veliye Vaa kannama in Tamil. We collaborated with the bollywood singing sensation Jonita Gandhi and a renowned tamil playback singer Sharanya Srinivas for this.

Post this we formed a line up to perform live with musicians Akshay Yesodharan(Guitar) , Renin Raphel (Guitars) , Adithya Gopi(Bass), Sebastian Satish(Keys). From there on we produced and released our first full length album “Payanangal” in November 2019. Currently we are working on the release of our second full -length album which is a bi-lingual titled “ÜPLIFT ‘’

How would you describe the music that you typically create? 

Well , I would describe our music as Honest and uplifting. By that I mean, we don’t create something just to follow the trend. As an artist , I want to tell a story. It can be about me , my experience or it can be our collective perspective on something but it needs to be honest.

If i write something and I don’t feel inspired by it the next day, I don’t take it to the band. But if a thought or a story is inspiring us or pushing us, then we sit together and put hours into it to make it a song, because the overall aim is to just tell a story.

I remember music uplifting me the first time I ever encountered it. So all we want is for our music to be pretty much the same.Our first album “Payanangal” is a true story of how one can find peace within themselves when they are lost.

We just wanted the music to go and hug anyone who was feeling lost at that point in time. With “UPLIFT” our new album, its keeping your inner child alive so we just want people to feel happy and cheerful when they plug in and listen to it.

Band of the month: Chennai Street Band - Score Short Reads
Chennai Street Band

Tell us about your music making process 

Like I already mentioned , the writing and the composition process happens alone if I write in Tamil, for hindi we collaborate with our songwriter – Kajinder Srivatsava. So it’s initially just a diary and a guitar. I don’t typically sit to compose.

More often than not a song happens naturally and I start recording whatever little ideas I get as voice notes with an acoustic guitar backing. Once I get something that inspires me or makes me feel like this story needs to be told , I share it with the band. We typically jam together on the idea once or twice to get the tones/sonics right.

Then we take it to the studios from there. Each of us in the band are unique in the way we process a story and so our basic goal is to capture each one’s uniqueness into the song whether it be guitar, drum , bass or synth.

The oneness of it all becomes a song. We work closely with Vivek Thomas who is our mix-master engineer and Lijesh Kumar who is our recording engineer to get the finer details of the source right.  

You recently released Safarnama. How did you produce that amid the pandemic situation?

I had composed the basic idea for Safarnama in 2017 as a voice note. It was incomplete and I didn’t wanna push myself into completing it. Because that wouldn’t be organic. Post lockdown when I was casually jamming on it with the guitar, that’s when the Sufi/Qawwali part happened to me and in a way that completed the song.

So once I composed the sufi part, I immediately sent a voice note to Kajinder( songwriter) and Goutham Healer(Drummer) and they loved the idea of it. The fact that we had to try a different genre excited all of us. Initially due to lockdown all our ideas were on zoom. Akshay yesodharan( Guitarist) , Renin Raphael(Guitarist) and Adithya Gopi(Bass) would share bits and pieces of ideas for intro etc via whatsapp recordings. Satish ( Keys) made a basic structure of the track.

We all got together in August for one jam when things slightly opened up. After that we went to the studios and recorded our part. For the Sufi/Qawwali portion we collaborated with Pratap Prb ( a sufi vocalist) and Rahul Prakash ( Dholak & Tabla).

We also collaborated with Achyuth Jaigopal ( When Chai Met Toast) on the banjo because we wanted to transition from country folk to the sufi/qawwali which is an Indo-pak folk genre. We have grown up listening to the legends of Coke studio India and Pakistan who introduced us to this genre and in a way this is our humble tribute to them.

Band of the month: Chennai Street Band - Score Short Reads

If you would collaborate with another band, which one would it be and why? 

A dream would be to collaborate with Coldplay – because their music is all about hope and optimism and I think we are similar too. Although we have worked with Achyuth, we would love to do a song with When Chai Met Toast because we love their music. It’s all heart. It would be a super fun jam with them.

How do you feel the digital wave has impacted your music in general? 

Well it has been a revolution to be honest. Esp during the current times where live music is not a possibility , the presence of streaming platforms is a blessing. We are still able to release music and garner an audience. The response to our music on streaming platforms has been nothing short of amazing.

All these platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have amazing editors and Artist Heads Like Padmanabhan NS and Bobin James who recognize good music and artists and help us reach a wider audience.

All this when live music opens up finally would be great. Because all of them who heard our music on spotify/apple would want to hear it live as well.

What is it that you dislike the most about the music industry and why?

The artist is always bigger than the music. If a big artist does a mediocre song they will still get all the help from all outlets to make it a hit but say an unknown artist with a really good song will still struggle to reach an audience.

For an unknown artist , they would need to build contacts and connections or need to know someone influential to get a venue or say take their music up to people who can actually write about it. Also the need to accept variety, stop asking an artist to do what’s trending, let them have their creative voice.

Talk to us about your gear set up as a band 

Since we are a six piece band on stage our gear is pretty set. Both Akshay and Renin have their set of pedal boards where they have preset tones configured. We use a couple of guitar amps ( Fender/ Orange) . Our sound engineer NIkhilesh takes care of micing the drums.

We generally go with a bass amp (hartke) and the keyboard goes through a  DI to the mixer directly. Since we play on click, we use in-ear monitors while performing live. When it comes to the studio recording , it’s based on the need of the song so it keeps changing.

Upcoming projects 

We are releasing our second full-length album “UPLIFT” song by song. This is a bi-lingual album in Hindi and Tamil. The next song will be released by end of May and it’s a tamil track titled “Paramapadham ‘‘. This album features a lot of collaborations with artists around the globe. So we are super-excited for the upcoming releases. 

Band Members :

  • Srihari Jagannathan (Singer/Songwriter , Music Producer) 
  •   Goutham Healer( Drums, Co-Founder)
  •   Akshay Yesodharan (Guitars)
  •   Renin Rapahel (Guitars)
  •   Adithya Gopi (Bass)
  •   Sebastian Satish(Keys)
  •   Kajinder Srivatsava( Songwriter – Hindi)

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