With music as free-spirited as their garb, Masala Coffee has an enticing aroma that is wafting far and wide now.
The ensemble comprising Sooraj Santhosh at vocals, Varun Sunil at percussion as well as vocals, Daya Sankar at drums, Preeth PS and David Crimson at guitar, Pauly at bass, Joe Johnson at keyboard and Krishna Raj at violin is as diverse as it can get.
Lead vocalist Sooraj Santhosh, who started his playback singing career with the song Inka Etho, composed by GV Prakash for the movie Darling was the recipient of the Mirchi Music Awards South. He also won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer this year.
Masala Coffee, which also has international shows to its credit, ventured into music composition with the Tamil movie Uriyadi and Malayalam movie Hello Namasthe, and has more in the cards.
We caught up with the band ahead of their debut show in the city, as a part of Hyderabad Arts Festival. Sooraj and Varun, founders of the band, spill the beans to us in an exclusive interview.
How it all brewed
We were all working as independent musicians. Both of us were in Chennai when we started jamming casually and that is when Kappa TV’s Music Mojo happened. We gathered a few friends and performed a few originals and covers. Once the video came out, everybody started liking us. So we thought maybe we should continue performing as a band.
Alternate folk rock is our basic element. However, we do not stick to a single genre. We try to incorporate diverse components – be it genres or languages. That’s the sound of our band. We’d say the objective of Masala Coffee is to break the borders. When non-malayalis sing Kanthaa along with us, it shows music truly has no boundaries.
On ARR’s Wembley concert
It is an upsetting and unhealthy practice. You don’t listen to music like you go and buy stuff from a shop. Music is not a product. We have fought enough in the name of religion, caste and language. Let us not spread the same into music, which is way beyond all of that.
Balancing it out
As long as we can keep personal ego at bay, we believe a group can do wonders together. A platform for healthy discussion and the space to voice opinions is essential for the growth of a band. We’ve always tried to maintain that in Masala Coffee.
Independent music scene
The reach of film music is immense compared to parallel or independent music. We’ve never had the habit of buying music – especially now, in the age of free downloads, there is no question of it. But that doesn’t mean the scene isn’t strong. There are more independent bands and artistes now than ever before. The public has also gotten over the hoary notion that a band is just a lot of noise with drums and guitars. There is a fresh outlook, acceptance and awareness. Yet, there is a long way to go.
Inspiration, in abundance
The whole universe is in fact an inspiration for us. Places, people, events – are all experiences and lessons for humans, more so for musicians. Likewise, we find inspiration from everywhere, including other artistes.