Exit Stage Right
Teddy Boy Kill’s debut album makes a detour from the predictable.
Within a year and a half of its inception, Teddy Boy Kill has drilled its groove into the consciousness of electronica listeners within the country. And they’ve done this by breaking clichÃ©s and veering away from the much-trodden path of fusion-onlogy taken by most Indian electronica artists. They have little regard for infusing any ”˜Indian-ness’ on sound for what might be termed as international approval. Save vocalist/guitarist Ashhar Farooqui’s aka ToyMob’s Indian accent on record, TBK’s debut album Last Exit, releasing this month on Counter Culture Records, drives the European boom home. “It’s not that we’re opposed to putting in Indian elements, but what we’ve noticed of late is that a lot of people are joining that bandwagon. I am not saying that if a person wants to put a Rajasthani aalaap over a western trance loop it’s wrong, but it’s kind of like a peer pressure situation where if you don’t do it you aren’t considered Indian. It doesn’t have to have Indian motifs to be Indian, that sound is very done and I don’t want to be trapped in that,” Samrat Bharadwaj aka Audio Pervert, the digital whiz behind TBK, is convinced about his roots. This is officially his first album, despite the fact that he has been working as a producer and composer for the longest time now. This being said, TBK’s journey on this album has been swift owing to the individual experiences Farooqui and Bharadwaj carry from their past.
It took a little less than a year to put the album together, but the most time-consuming part, according to Bharadwaj, was short-listing eight tracks from around twenty five they had, because most of them catered to the needs of a live set. “The thing is, the way we play live, it’s tailored for the audience, for the energy you feel live. But when you want to listen to a song in a non-live setting, it needs to be produced in a different way, in a more pop format, so keeping that in mind we had to pick and choose the songs and reproduce them so they would fit into an album,” he explains. Everything about Teddy Boy Kill screams non-conformity, from the name of the band to the music, and it extends to their debut album as well “Right now we feel that we are living in a highly paranoid society where tolerance levels are going down, where people find comfort and security in material things ”“ we are moving towards an American model of life. Most of the songs speak about how the media, politics and religion are trying to give you a false sense of hope, that only if you follow them will your life turn out fine. That’s basically the underlying theme of the album,” says Bharadwaj. He asserts that he wants his music to convey a message about society today, that it be more than just pleasant sounds. “Some of our other tracks deal with the fact that we live in a society where there is more and more alienation, where people take recourse to alcohol and drugs, which shrouds you further in a bubble of your own making. It makes you feel that life is great but somewhere deep down inside there is an undeniable void. We are just telling people to try and understand who they are, rather than have other people give them an identity,” he says.
One of the band’s most popular tracks ”˜Subterra,’ though, did not make it to this record. The track, inspired by Radiohead’s ”˜Subterranean Homesick Alien’ also used a sample from the song and TBK could not secure the publishing rights to it. But TBK is known to unreservedly sample artistes like Radiohead, Underworld and Prodigy in its live sets. “We even sample from old Hindi movies, maybe a dialogue here and there. We also sample sounds that are powerful and moving, but is impossible to recreate,” says Bharadwaj. The band however plans to put ”˜Subterra’ up for free distribution as a single. Last Exit will also be up for free digital download, and is already available for streaming on Reverbnation and Last.fm. The album was mostly recorded at Bharadwaj’s home studio, but certain parts of the album, such as the live instrumentation, was recorded as a friend’s studio.
Bharadwaj, though, is already looking beyond the release of the album. Last year, he attended the Cologne Pop festival in Germany, with the intention of gaining greater exposure to the industry and the state of European electronica, while simultaneously looking for favourable avenues for his music. Having connected with the program director of C/O Pop, Ralph Christoph, Bharadwaj will also be instrumental in bringing C/O Pop to India. Plans are afoot to hold the festival in Delhi this December, bringing Indian and German artistes together to perform on the same platform. If it does happen, it could very well be India’s biggest electronica festival yet. Bharadwaj is also exploring prospects of playing at this years C/O pop fest in Germany, and is in talks with Christoph about he same. If things come through for this duo, Teddy Boy Kill will have officially arrived.