Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The story of Amrit Rao's new, infectious Tamil album - Nirangal

There was a kannadiga called Amrit Rao who lived in Bangalore and plied his trade as a Computer Science major in India's burgeoning technology market. Once Amrit sat eating cold giraffe stew at a cafe when the manager - a guy by the name of Santosh - walked up. Santosh had a few lines in Tamil scribbled on a paper. He handed it to Amrit and asked him to make a song with those words as lyrics. Amrit didn't really speak Tamil but he grew up listening to gobs of Tamil songs and moonlighted on the side with his band bearing the wink,wink name of Live Banned. He took up the challenge, banged out a tune before he finished his stew and made that into a song called Manjal Veyil. And that is how Amrit got started on putting together an entire CD in Tamil.

If that sounds too fantastical to be true - then yes, I'll admit it is. You can't get cold giraffe stew in Bangalore. Everything else, though, did happen.

Now, along with his bandmate (Live Banned drummer) Dheerandra "Dheeru" Doss, Amrit has a terrific new, Tamil album out called Nirangal. It's a heady cocktail of rock, EDM and Hindustani music with commentary on a myriad collection of social issues.

The first single Sappa Matter Da is full of fuzzy, beat heavy Electronica, distorted vocals and a hugely entertaining music video (see below). It's instantly infectious. The album dropped on February 22. Amrit stopped by to tell us more.

Amrit, congratulations on the first single off your new album. It sounds fabulous! How long have you been working on this?

Amrit: Thank you very much! I started working on the album three years ago but got busy with the band and work. I resumed the album work last September and wrote Sappa Matter Da in October. The video was shot on December 2nd.

About that first song: Sappa Matter Da. For us non-Tamil music lovers: what does that mean? And what is the song about?

Amrit: Sappa Matter Da means 'It's not a big deal man'. The song takes a dig at the materialistic and monotonous world we live in, in a funny way. It is satirical and a lot of fun yet very serious if you dig deeper. It's about consumerism, jealousy and the socioeconomic situation in the country. The song also talks about the importance of marching ahead despite the troubles in our everyday lives.

Sappa Matter Da has been described as Symphonic Industrial rock/metal song. No one reading that would think the song would be so infectious. What was the process like putting it together with your producer Dheeru?

Amrit: No, Sappa Matter Da is a pure house/techno electro song in Tamil. There is a Symphonic Industrial Rock song called 'Vandhaan' on the album though. Dheeru understands the electronic genre and its elements really well, so it was quite easy executing the song. We work very well together.

This is a non-filmi album in Tamil. Did you consider any point that doing this in Hindi or English might have made it more mainstream?

Amrit: There is quite a big market for Tamil music as well, especially after a certain video going viral in 2011. I think language is not a barrier anymore. If the song is catchy with good content then geography or  language don't matter. A Korean song was the biggest hit of 2012. That should answer your question.

Looks like a lot of good people put that first video together. What was the thought process and concept behind it?

Amrit: Yes, it was totally a team effort. We had a brilliant director and cameraman in Satchith Paulose, the choreographer Avril who also goes by the name The Storm Factory, the dancers, Pia, Chandini and Nikitha, Brinda who helped with the costumes and Prashant who also helped in the editing of the video. The video is very contextual and not literal. The idea was to show three different perspectives and alter egos; the protagonist in the outside world and in the Black and White space played by me and the tiger, the protagonist's inner self. The tiger is forced to come out its space and into this crazy world. We wanted to leave it open to the viewers' interpretation.

In the video I see two Amrits. One is wearing an outrageously stylish outfit, chasing what looks like a Turkey and having way too much fun. The other is walking around looking really intense. Who is the real Amrit?

Amrit: Both are real. It's the same guy but with different alter egos. The world does not see his inner-self or even if they do it's not how he is all the time. The flashy Amrit is his thought process. There are different interpretations and depictions. That is what makes the video very different.

What more can we expect from the album?

Amrit: It is a multi-genre album and probably one of the most diverse albums you would have heard in terms of the sound. The album also has songs about social issues like child labor, illiteracy, street dog adoption and equality for the differently-abled. The album was launched on the 22nd of Feb and is available at all leading retail stores and digital media like flipkart, infibeam, flyte and itunes.

Sappa Matter Da - translated from Tamil to English

Kaalai traffic-u Traffic in the morning
Maalai no luck-u No luck in the evening
Office-il tension Tension in the office
Friend-ukku promotion Promotion for my friend

Adada enna kodumai Oh what is this torture?
Enakku illa porumai I don’t have patience
Veettula thanni pracchanai Water problem at home
Sollunga unga badhilai Give me your answer

Sappa Matter Da It’s a simple matter/ It’s not a big deal man
Don't put peter da Peter refers to someone with a very put-on, annoying, English accent

+2-il fail-u Failed in 12th standard
Adukkum suicide-u Committing suicide for that also
Kaadal break-up-u Love failure
Kiss and make-up-u So kiss and make up

Velai vaaipu no No job vacancy
Share market full low Share market is totally low
Petrol vilaiyaley Due to fuel hike
Bondi aaneney I became a pauper

Adada enna kodumai Oh what is this torture?
Enakku illa porumai I don’t have patience
Sollunga unga badhilai Tell me your answer
Naanga oozhalukku adimai We are slaves to corruption

Sappa Matter Da
Don’t put peter da

Manushana nesikkama porulgala nesikkira You love things instead of loving people
Because of the economy, you use people You use people because of the economy

Kadaisiyila saavu da In the end there is only death
Appo unakku aappu da You are screwed then
Indha poraamai thevaya? Is this jealousy necessary?
Ellame romba mokka da All these things are very ordinary

Sappa Matter Da
Don’t put peter da

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Guys Amrit Grew up in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. He left to Bangalore only after completing his 12th std. Nonetheless he is a great human being and an exceptionally talented individual. hearty wishes for his future.
Great debut. Absolutely love it