An Interactive Session with Daira
One of India’s leading progressive alternative rock bands, Daira were here to host an acoustic gig and conduct a music workshop at the Amphitheatre on the 23rd of March, 2017.
What would first strike you about this supremely ingenious ensemble is their novel technique of encompassing a host of genres. Perpetually experimenting with new styles and sounds, they leave no stone unturned to concoct the perfect blend of rock n’ roll and jazz fusion.
Commencing with Har Subah from their debut epistolary album, they went on to perform Maaya, Mahaal and Meri Soch. All the songs were handpicked from their swing-and-soul infused eight-track compendium, ranked as the second best release of 2015 by Rolling Stones India.
The workshop was intensively artist-centric, as they stressed on the need to create original content and stay true to one’s artform.
“Be Indie-pendant”, as iterated by Daira’s percussionist, Pratik Kulgod.
Preceding the dawn of the indie era, all artists would be tied up with commercial fine arts establishments. A lot of the time, their distribution deals would retain the artist’s freedom to explore certain sounds, emotions and subjects of limited appeal. It was only in the 1980s that artists began resorting to relatively low budget labels in a quest for absolute creative independence, carrying forward a ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude.
Vikalp Sharma, their lead guitarist mentioned how right from their very first gig to the album launch, Daira had been entirely autonomous. They believe in selling their art but not at the price of becoming a sellout.
When asked about garnering a fanbase and seeking popularity, they spoke of how the founders of psychedelic rock, Pink Floyd, didn’t have a concrete fanbase to begin with. They rented a marriage hall, turned the lights upon the audience so they couldn’t see the performers, and started playing. Soon after, the hall was abuzz with people dancing to the beat of this fresh, unconventional music.
Their individuality rings through in every piece, and their creative independence is never compromised when they gather in the jam room to make music together. Based in Mumbai, this band manages to amalgamate the most distinctive elements of each band member leaving their live audiences in awe of their abilities.
As an artist, never let go of the opportunity to try new things, for fear of critique. Piyush Kapoor, the lead vocalist stated that when Daira covered Chop Suey’s System of a Down, they received a comment on YouTube asking why they’d done this. According to a certain viewer they may have ruined a classic, but they’d managed to explore a new style and sound in the process.
When you’re part of a band, sometimes you’ve got to lay off a little and let your fellow band members do their thing.
Daira’s Mazedaar had Shivam Pant on the guitar, playing a three note melody, and Vikalp leading with funk. The harmonics and funk combination goes on to show that even three notes make a lot of difference. More often than not, in music, less really is more.
We don’t often realize just how extensive and daunting of a task music production can get. There is a dearth of time, effort and monetary investment that goes into yielding the quintessential formula for success, right from packaging to production design. Their official music video for Meri Soch, a beguiling concept on liberated expression, was a testament to the herculean efforts put in by the album art designer, Ashwyn Warrier.
In a casual tête-à-tête with the band, we we found out what made Daira the chilled-out yet disciplined, proactive and successful band it is:
What kind of genres and themes do you typically explore?
Daira: We usually end up mixing genres like jazz, blues and rock n’ roll. We don’t necessarily adhere to the standard prerequisites of a genre that you’d find on a Wikipedia page. We are open to trying out a lot of genres. We usually look for an upbeat or groovy theme for our music.
Where do you seek inspiration from while creating music?
Daira: We’re greatly influenced by the legends like Pink Floyd and King Crimson, and find local inspriation in Awadhi Rock n’ Roll. There’s no standard algorithm to creating quality music. Originality stems from building on your own concepts. We research as much as possible to better our technique.
How relevant is a fundamental knowledge of music theory while composing?
Vikalp: I have never received any training whatsoever in music theory,
I’m entirely self-taught. There are many websites out there with the requisite knowledge about music production.
What are your views on the digital vs analogue debate?
Daira: Digital processors have only recently started being used. It’s very important to learn and understand analogue. In our music, the cymbal sounds had been recorded by Pratik, and every other sound was triggered. For our second album, we’re planning to go for a more Sahafi organic approach.
What made you forsake conventional vocations to follow your true passion? How did your friends and family react to it?
Daira: If you’re passionate enough about your art, things will fall into place. More often than not, our parents don’t really understand our music. We need to persevere and work hard to propagate and brand our art well. Parents will understand once the money starts rolling in, and they see you are doing well for yourself.
Are there any new musical projects in the pipeline?
We have plans to release another conceptual music video, and will be releasing our second album very soon. Thermal and a Quarter, a rock band based in Bangalore has released a short film titled WFW/DFD, a refreshing take on the lives of artistes in India.
The event was organized by Manipal’s Chords & Co. spearheaded by the president, Priyansha Mishra.
The soundcheck and testing was administered by Rishav Banerjee and Subhro Biswas.
You can check out Daira’s debut album here: https://www.oklisten.com/album/daira