‘Music industry needs to break away from Bollywood to make original songs’

‘Music industry needs to break away from Bollywood to make original songs’

By SWATI SINGH | | 8 July, 2017
The Local Train, Aaoge Tum Kabhi, Ramit Mehra, DIY band, Choo Lo, Indian Ocean, YouTube
(Extreme right) Ramit Mehra, with other members of The Local Train.
The Local Train, a Delhi-based rock band, known for their popular song “Aaoge Tum Kabhi”, is all set to come up with another musical treat.
The Local Train, a Delhi-based rock band, known for their popular song “Aaoge Tum Kabhi”, is all set to come up with another musical treat. In conversation with Guardian 20, the band’s bass guitarist, Ramit Mehra, speaks about their musical journey, their inspiration, about their upcoming projects among other things. 

Q. How has your journey been so far as part of The Local Train?

A. Since all of us had been individually involved with music, in some form or the other, before getting together as a team, our journey with music dates back much longer. As for The Local Train, the last five years have been nothing less than an adventure. Very exciting. We are grateful to our fans who have had a huge role to play in our success. We all stay together, experimenting with every idea and opportunity, to innovate and bring something new to the table with every song. We are a DIY band, and that has put us on a very steep learning curve. We released six videos along with our debut album Aalas ka Pedh in September 2015, which went on to become one of the highest selling independent albums of the year. We then went on an album tour to eight major cities to promote the album. Besides that, we have been touring the country, extensively, performing at festivals we were invited to. It has been hectic, and yet exhilarating, and we are definitely not complaining.

Q. What would you classify as your musical forte?                  

A. I think we kept things very simple. Try and make music to the best of our capabilities and package them with music videos based on ideologies we feel strongly about. The four of us have been involved with every step of the process and while we’ve stepped on quite a few nerves, but we’ve never released something we weren’t satisfied with.

Q. How did you come up with the band’s name, The Local Train?                      

A. We wish there was a special incident or anecdote that we could recount as a response to this question. But it happened quite casually. We had recorded a song called “Choo Lo”, and we wanted to upload it on Myspace. It was a random choice to come up with the name, The Local Train. It clicked, and the song was a success. And we have been stuck with name ever since.

Q. Where do you draw your inspiration as musicians?

A. Life. Our experiences, our surroundings, our existence. We draw inspiration from everything that forms a part of our daily life. And I think that is a perk of being an independent band. We can be inspired by anything and everything that affects us. The aim is, to be honest with our music and lyrics.

Q. Who is your role model?                      

A. It’ll be so difficult to pin point one individual as the role model for the entire band. Because of the wide age gap among us, we all have been inspired by so many different artists for what they’ve done. Everything we heard growing up from Nirvana, Aerosmith, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, U2, Lucky Ali to Indian Ocean, Alt-J, The 1975 and what not. Inspiration is all about what clicks with you personally but at the end of the day, you need to move towards creating your own voice.

Q. These days, the “in” trend among musicians is to rehash old Bollywood numbers. What’s your take on this? Do you also do cover versions?

A. Rehashing can be fun, because it gives you the freedom to experiment and give a song your own special touch. But we feel a wrong ideology is taking shape in this process, and so we feel being original is the way ahead. As for doing cover versions, the sole aim of the band since it got together, is to create original music. We’ve covered a few songs live that we really like but our focus will always be on our original music

Q. How do you feel about online forums, like YouTube, enabling young musicians to showcase their talent? Are these helpful for nurturing talent?

A. Yes, indeed. Being a DIY band, we can totally vouch for the fact that social media enables us, as artists, to create and reach out to a fan base and it is nothing short of a blessing. We do not produce music under any label, and yet, simply uploading videos on YouTube has helped us garner attention, and we couldn’t have asked for more. We’re grateful to all these platforms.

Q. Are you aware of the new internet sensation Dhinchak Pooja, who claims to be a singer? Your take on this?     

A. The internet has no filter but it gives users the option of choice. We think she’s made a brave choice by putting her content online. We really can’t comment on her motivation to release the style of music she’s putting out.

Q. Your song “Aaoge Tum Kabhi” has been featured in the film Angry Indian Goddesses. How did that feel?

A. “Aaoge Tum Kabhi” was the first official single of our debut album Aalas ka Pedh. We were performing at IIT Roorkee when a friend of the producer heard us perform the song live and forwarded it to the producer of the movie. Talks started, and we flew down to Bombay, we saw a private screening of the movie and decided that our song is a good fit. Angry Indian Goddesses is one of the biggest independent releases from the country and we’re glad to be a part of it. In fact, we’ve clicked really well with the production house and now we’re working together for our future music video releases.

Q. What do you have to say about the current music scenario in India?

A. In India, the independent music circuit is still in its nascent stage. We believe that the music industry needs to break away from Bollywood once again and focus on just creating good original music. With the diversity and talent this country has, we feel that there’s gonna be a thriving culture soon also thanks to the boom in the live music scene.

Q. Which do you prefer more: recording music in the studio or performing live?

A. Ah, it’s such a tough choice! As a band, I doubt we can be without either. We love making and composing music but during the off season of the live-show market, everyone is itching to get back on tour. Hopefully, we’ll keep making music and touring till the inevitable hits us!

Q. What does music mean to you?

A. So many things! Growing up music was the perfect way to understand everything we were experiencing. All emotions were connected with songs. I don’t think any of us really thought of being full-time musicians playing in a rock band apart from dreaming about it in childhood fantasies. But now for us, it’s like the fabric of space-time, all encompassing and all pervasive. It is work, it is entertainment, it is emotions and expressions. It’s frustrating and enlightening and everything else in between. It’s become our way of life and everyday we’re glad we’re doing what we love.

Q. The music industry is growing by the day. Where do you see your band five years down the line?

A. We hope to see a lot of music coming out of this country and while the going seems slow right now for independent musicians we’re hoping in five year things will be smoother. In five years we hope to be at least another couple of albums down! It’s all we want to do. Keep making music.

Q. Tell us about your upcoming projects?

A. We are currently in the process of writing our second album. In fact, the first single, Khudi, from the second album is already out on YouTube and other major streaming platforms. We are really trying to experiment with our sound and find our space this time.

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