Striking A Chord With When Chai Met Toast
In a conversation with AAKANKSHA BAJPAI, members of the popular indie band When Chai Met Toast share the inner workings of how their creative juices flow and get turned into the music that we all love.
A blend of genres, multilingual yet soulful lyrics and tunes that you just have to hum under your brain. Yes, we’re talking about the band When Chai Met Toast.
Founded in 2016, the band consists of Ashwin Gopakumar (vocalist), Achyuth Jaigopal (guitarist), Palee Francis (keyboard player) and Pai Sailesh (drummer). The members met in the musical circles of Kochi, Kerala. The rest, is history.
Already well-known due to the breakout song ‘Khoj’, the band has recently reached new heights, making their way onto Spotify RADAR’s rising artists with their recent releases and acoustic versions of previous songs. We learn from the makers of music how they feel about rising recognition.
How has your musical journey been during this pandemic?
We have been keeping ourselves busy, writing new material and doing music videos whenever possible. Live shows have definitely taken a hit, but there have been a few online events, interspersed with private events that we performed at. We also took it as a time to hone our skills, learn new things and be with family.
The band was recently recognized as part of Spotify RADAR’s rising artists. How did this achievement feel?
The team at Spotify has always been very kind to us and we are grateful to have been one of the first artists part of the RADAR rising artists. More than an achievement, we feel that the programme was, and continues to be, a great opportunity for independent music in India to gain global attention.
Your series Nature Tapes and album When We Feel Young have been garnering attention. What was the creative process behind them?
There’s no particular process that we follow. We keep a bank of voice recordings containing rough ideas, be it a lyric idea, vocal melody, or instrumental hook. We are a touring band, and a lot of our songs stem from experiences on the road. A few originate from jam sessions and sound checks. We take these ideas and develop them at Palee’s studio in Kochi. When We Feel Young talks about the emotions of love, nostalgia, and celebration.
What was the experience of being on stage post-COVID-19 restrictions?
We did a small, limited capacity tour in March, and were overwhelmed by the response, selling out nearly every city. We were also playing the songs from the new album live for the very first time, and it felt great to have everyone sing back even the new songs word for word.
What motivates the band to keep their creative juices flowing?
Just the four of us, who we are as people, and the dynamic we’ve built within the group over the last five years or so that the band has been active. Also, the aspiration to continue to experiment, learn and try new things.
What was the biggest challenge for the band in the recent past?
Every song, show and project brings its own set of challenges, so it’s difficult to point out a single biggest one.
What will you say about the future of Indie music in India?
Independent artists are slowly gaining mainstream attention in India, and we feel the future looks very bright. The future of the live industry remains to be seen, but we feel there will definitely be an upward trend of people listening to independent Indian music.
What can we expect next?
There’s new music, and possibly a larger tour. There are a few exciting undisclosed projects we are currently part of, and we are looking forward to these projects taking shape.