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Nischay Parekh and Jivraj Singh are now Parekh and Singh

The Kolkata dream pop duo are both producers and performers on their new 10-track album ‘//’, which releases in 2016

Anurag Tagat Oct 16, 2015
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Zap - (from left) Nischay Parekh and Jivraj Singh. Photo: Naman Saraiya

(from left) Nischay Parekh and Jivraj Singh. Photo: Naman Saraiya

It’s odd that singer-guitarist Nischay Parekh and drummer Jivraj Singh are adapting a moniker for their upcoming release // [pronounced ‘forward slash’] but 22-year-old Parekh is confident that it is in the best interest of both of them. They originally settled on the name zap, but are now sticking with Parekh and Singh. Parekh says, “The first and most obvious reason [to have a moniker] was that we both have somewhat long and very Indian names. [British TV presenter] Jools Holland would probably have a hard time pronouncing Nischay and Jivraj. Secondly, Jivraj and I love the idea of a collective identity.” Not that they’ve got a gig with on Holland’s decades-old popular BBC show Later… with Jools Holland, but they just want to be prepared. Parekh adds, “I know it’s very presumptuous on our part – but what’s the point of not dreaming?”

Parekh and Singh, who released their debut album Ocean in 2013 under Nischay’s name, chose zap to encapsulate their futuristic pop sound, but were convinced that their original names would pique interest worldwide. Says Parekh, who will continue to create music under his own name in addition to collaborating with Singh, about their new sound, “It’s all very short, sharp and sudden. [Like] Bleeps on a synth, crisp grooves on a drum machine.” With this second album, Parekh and Singh have also consolidated their new identities as producer-performers. Says Parekh, “As much as I love playing guitar in a rock band – rocking out with a keyboardist, bass player and drummer, I love the idea of deconstructing that whole concept. The only practical way to do that is with synthesizers, MIDI, a backing track and a metronome.”

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All the toying around with synths and laptops doesn’t mean Parekh would ever play a DJ set, though. Considered a contemporary to singer-songwriters such as Prateek Kuhad and Tejas Menon, Parekh – who delivered one of the catchiest pop albums in 2013 with Ocean – says he would also never think of playing a solo set with just a guitar. He’d rather have Jiver or at least a drum machine and a synth for accompaniment. The simplicity of pop music is very much prevalent on // just as it was on Ocean, but Parekh + Singh have built on layers of electronic sounds, adding candy-sweet vocal lines, drums and a clean guitar tone.

But unlike Ocean’s love songs such as the title track, “I Love You, Baby Doll” and “Philosophize,” Parekh looks more outwards than within in his ponderings. Apart from the mandatory reference to his favorite filmmaker Woody Allen on “Summer Skin,” there’s a lot more about science and technology in terms of lyrical content. Says Parekh, “It’s more about human relationships with the things around us. It’s more macro than micro in the subject matter.” He stays firmly in the dream pop space on “Surgeon,” which is about physics and the Higgs-Boson Particle. The title track – originally called “Particle Physics” when Parekh and Singh began performing the song while promoting Ocean – is about becoming obsessed and falling in love with technology.  The dance-friendly sound flows into “Evening Sun,” which is about insomnia, while the cheery “Sunbeam” is about “protecting yourself from disease and harm,” says Parekh.

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With the album slated to release in 2016, Parekh and Singh, who have created this album without Ocean mentor and producer Miti Adhikari or their keyboardist George Matthew Dylan Varner Hartley, will perform at the Shillong, Kolkata and Pune editions of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival, with a club tour in the works for November. Despite handling synth and production duties, the songwriter in Parekh is just as alive. He adds, “Along with the 10 songs I’m putting out on //, there’s almost another half album of five tracks ready to go. Taking my time has its benefits.”

Watch Parekh + Singh perform “Evening Sun”

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