From quitting corporate jobs to become musicians | An interview with the...

From quitting corporate jobs to become musicians | An interview with the Delhi-based rock band Antariksh

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Antariksh has been gaining popularity owing to their experimentation with edgy and modern sounding rock music with mainstream Hindi music. Celebrating two years of the release of their first album, ‘Khoj’ and the release of their new single ‘Intezaar’, DU Beat got an opportunity to interview them.

Q. Let’s start by talking about how your band was formed? How did you guys end up with the name ‘Antariksh’?

A. As far as the story goes, the roots of the band were actually laid way before Antariksh was formed. From 2006 to 2008, Varun Rajput and Mridul Ganesh (Former singer of the band) used to play in a local Progressive Rock band called Feedback, and GT used to play for Prestorika around the same time. However, post college days, music took a back seat as we ventured into the corporate world to earn our bread and butter. However, a few years later, stars somehow aligned again, and coincidentally, both Mridul and Varun happened to quit their management consulting jobs around the same time in 2012 to work on more creative projects. At the same time Varun and Gurtej had been having conversations about starting a new project and were longing to get back to music – fans of similar kinds of music, the three of us got together, to jam casually and write a few tunes. It wasn’t long when we realized that we’d written 3 very cool songs (Na Jaane Kyun, Tum, and Dheere Dheere). At this moment, the timing just seemed right – we decided to get onto unfinished business and took the plunge to record and produce an album for Antariksh. This is when we started looking for a drummer and a bass player. A friend connected us to Vipul, who was studying at NSIT at that time and was a great fit into the set-up. We jammed a few times – there was an immediate connection, since there has been no looking back.

As for the name, we thought of several funny and weird names, but stuck with Antariksh as it was the only one, which wasn’t repulsed by anyone. Ha!

Q. Did ‘Dheere Dheere’, your first single, receive the kind of response that you were expecting?

A. To be honest, we were very skeptical before releasing it, for the kind of experimentation, we were up to – fortunately it received a great response. To our surprise, we got around 150 shares on the day of its release and much appreciation. That’s when we realized that we had something going and started taking the project more seriously. The song later on went on to be shortlisted at VIMA India Awards and was nominated for VIMA Asia Awards.

Q. How is Antariksh different from other bands in India? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

A. For starters, we believe we have a very unique and eclectic sound for Hindi music considering our background and influences. Besides that, we have a lot of talent within the band which helps us treat Antariksh like a startup and manage everything on our own, whether that’s design work, marketing, PR, business development, recording, video editing, etc. Also, we believe, we’re very sincere and disciplined when it comes to doing anything with Antariksh, whether that’s writing new songs, producing, rehearsing or releasing. In the next few years, we wish to see ourselves as the pioneers and the front-runners of Indian rock music.

Q. What is the state of Indian music scene, according to you? What advice would you like to give the musicians who are still trying to find a way in the Indian music scene?

A. We believe it’s a great time to be a professional musician. Indie music has changed as well grown exponentially in the last 4-5 years, and so have the opportunities. However, there’s a catch – although, the total opportunities, gigs, music festivals have gone up, so has the demand for commercial music or let’s say cover songs. Unfortunately, that has led to most musicians give up on their original music and passion to do music and rather, just form cover bands to keep earning their bread and butter. And you can’t blame the bands or the venues entirely, though. That’s how the scene has evolved. So, yes it’s great that the overall Indie music scene is growing; however, it will take a lot more time for the audience, as well as venues to start accepting and appreciating original music than lining up stupid Sufi Nights, where you have shabby musicians getting together to screw up beautiful songs by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the likes, while drunk uncles and aunties dance to them like there’s no tomorrow. What musicians need to realize is that such audience will drink and dance irrespective of who’s playing, so in the long run the musicians are doing themselves more harm than good. I think what has not grown well is the state of radio – we feel radio is a great medium for discovering good music as well as popularizing music. However, it has not picked up Indie music as much it should have. Let’s see what the future holds.

What we’d like to advise our fellow musicians would be to create quality music. Work hard and stick around for long enough to make an impact. And be nice to each other and everyone around.

Q. Can you list down some bands you all look up to?

A. Amongst Indian bands and musicians, we love stuff by Thermal and a Quarter, Amit Trivedi, AR Rahman. Amongst bands outside of India, a few that we all love would be Pain of Salvation, Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, and so many more.

Q. What would be your fondest memory as a band and your best gig? What is the concept of your first album? Have you had moments of struggle, where you felt like it isn’t working out?

A. The fondest memory of us working together as a band would be the release of our first album, Khoj. ‘Khoj’ is about a search for identity, a quest to understand our own nature. The album touches various themes such as ethics, identity crises, hope, greed, chaos and realization. When we launched the album, we got a great response to the music; however, it took a while for the concerts to pick up. That really was a frustrating period for the band because we thought we’d put in our blood, sweat and tears into this album, and gigs still didn’t pick up for the next two months. Fortunately, everything literally changed overnight exactly 3 months after the release, and suddenly, we were playing all across the country. In hindsight, we think it was just the amount of time that was needed for our music to actually reach out to people – something like a gestation period. Thankfully, since then, the band’s following and concerts have grown exponentially, and we hope to continue growing as musicians as well as a band. Talking about our best gig, it has to be the gig at Carmel Junior College, Jamshedpur – the loudest and most musical audience ever.

Q. Tell us something about your new single. What are some of your upcoming projects? Do you think that colleges with their fest season and competitions, serves as a good platform for talented musicians?

A. We recently released Intezaar, a song that has waited for over five years for its release. It was composed in 2010 when we were working on a couple of soundtracks for a movie called The Bet. We’re super excited to see the response to the song, as it’s very different from what we normally compose as Antariksh. Other than that, we’re planning to come up with the 2nd album early next year. Also, October and November is all set for tour to celebrate 3 years of Antariksh.

Talking about colleges, specifically Delhi University and its competitions as a platform for young bands, we believe it’s absolutely great. We’ve seen it act as a foundation for musical careers of so many talented musicians. In fact, we were judging a few competitions recently, it was great to see some absolutely amazing bands coming out of DU. Our recent favourite bands from DU would be Hansraj Projekt, and RaagLeela.

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