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Bengaluru Prog Fusion Act Pineapple Express Release Debut EP

Founder, producer and keyboardist Yogeendra Hariprasad talks about the long road to putting out ‘Uplift’ and how the band went from trio to full-fledged collective

Anurag Tagat Apr 17, 2018

Bengaluru prog fusion band Pineapple Express. Photo: Anandu Anil

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This probably sounds familiar – young, talented classically-trained vocalist discovers rock and metal. But what made it different for Bengaluru-based Yogeendra Hariprasad was that his gateway into the world of English music was American prog veterans Dream Theater. He says of fusing prog and Hindustani classical, “To me, the sonic handshake between these two vastly different genres of music comes pretty much instinctively.”

Producer, keyboardist and vocalist, Hariprasad founded Pineapple Express in 2013 and in the last five years, although they’ve seen plenty of members come and go, they’ve made every opportunity count to gain audiences steadily, right up to the release of their debut EP Uplift last month. From appearances at college festivals to performing on video series Music Mojo, Pineapple Express went from Hariprasad jamming with guitar whiz Bhargav Sarma (whom the bandleader calls a huge catalyst in building up the lineup again) and powerhouse drummer Gopi Shravan to adding five more members. There’s vocalists Karthik Chennoji Rao (formerly a vocalist for guitar virtuoso Baiju Dharmajan) and Jimmy Francis John, flutist Arjun MPN, violinist Shravan Sridhar (currently also part of fusion band Anand Bhaskar Collective) and guitarist Ritwik Bhattacharya. Guitarist Sarma apparently calls this lineup “world domination dream team.”

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To a perfectionist like Hariprasad, the four tracks they’d picked to feature on Uplift were reworked and toiled over for about a year before being deemed fit for release. The difference, perhaps, lies in the band’s approach to writing music. Unlike most, especially prog-leaning bands, Hariprasad says, “There’s always been a part of me that has taken the audience into consideration while I write these songs. A highly debatable issue, and probably a crime to some musicians, but I believe that I’ve got nothing to lose artistically if I think from a probable audience perspective while making music.”

And it’s certainly paid off. Hariprasad says he already knows of listeners who share the EP with their parents and grandparents. “We’ve had a person message us saying that children with autism are responding positively to the exact same music,” he adds. With a music video coming up next and more singles, Pineapple Express intends to take their brand of electronic and classical-infused progressive rock and metal into the mainstream. He says, “I think this music has endless game-changing possibilities demographically and beyond, which we’ll continue to discover and nourish.”

Listen to ‘Uplift’

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