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Inside Smalltalk’s Journey to Being India’s Best New Groove Masters

The Mumbai R&B-soul band switch up time signatures splendidly on their first release, ‘Tacit’ EP

David Britto Mar 13, 2018

Mumbai neo-soul band Smalltalk will release their debut EP 'Tacit' on March 18th. Photo: Ron Bezbaruah

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In April last year, Mumbai R&B-soul band Smalltalk made themselves known in the music circuit by bagging first place at Pune’s Bandcubator competition. Six months since their inception, the group walked away with an EP recording deal at Mumbai’s Cotton Press Studio. Smalltalk wasted little time to jump into the studio to churn out their debut four-track EP Tacit, which releases on March 18th. Says vocalist-guitarist Samarth Bahl, “We started the EP in June and we were perfecting the songs and making them EP ready.”

What started off as a writing project for Bahl and drummer Linford D’souza (from alt/punk rockers BLEK) later drafted in bassist Yohann Coutinho (from alt rockers Unohu) to join them, replacing BLEK’s Jared Creado. The trio performed a set as part of internet series Balcony TV in 2016, when Bahl says the band realized they needed one more instrument in their pop-rock mix. That’s when the band brought on board guitarist Siddharth Shankar. Bahl adds, “The sound just started evolving with him and we started doing new things and trying to write new stuff and this was the sound that came out and we are still evolving on our sound.”

‘Tacit’ EP artwork by Sajid Wajid Shaikh

The young band has certainly hit all the right spots with their high-quality sound on Tacit, which is produced and mixed by Jehangir Jehangir (the producer-drummer who co-founded Cotton Press Studio) and mastered by U.K. firm 360 Mastering. The record on a whole is transitional bliss. Each song has its own quirks and clever musicianship by the quartet, putting forth a powerfully groovy mix that packs surprises. The EP opener “You Don’t Even,” deals with “feeling ignored in a situation,” according to Bahl, while “What A Mess” is about going through a rough patch and acknowledging the situation and “Come Back (It’s Not Broken)” expresses push-and-pull, contrasting emotions. The record closes with the rhythmic R&B meets electronica gem “Blindspots.” Bahl says about the track, “As individuals we tend to complain about problems around us, if you want to complain then the problem is you at the end of the day, it urges you not to ignore the problem.” 

A four-city tour to promote the new record has already been announced earlier this week, organized by Mumbai Arts and Entertainment Company Kranti Art Theory. Smalltalk will perform all the songs off Tacit as well as new material on the road. Says Bahl, “We’ve been prepping and are really looking forward to the launch (on March 25th at Toit in Mumbai), we got Shirish Malhotra on sax and James Miranda on trumpet joining us for that gig.” Apart from the horn section, Smalltalk will also be joined by backing vocalist Malika Barot for their launch show.

Next, the group has a music video in the pipeline and plans for more gigs around the country, with an eye on Goa, the North East and South India. There’s also work starting on a follow-up to Tacit. Bahl says, “Some songs are ready and some are being worked on at the moment.”

Watch Smalltalk perform “What A Mess” below:

Tacit Tour Dates:

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March 25th, Toit, Mumbai
April 5th, Raasta, New Delhi
April 7th, Primal, Bengaluru  
April 18th, Euriska, Pune

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