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Hear Bengaluru Duo Apartment Upstairs Get Psychedelic on ‘Mahua’

The second single from their upcoming EP ‘Graduation Day’ is an R&B, soul and rock blend about escapism

Rolling Stone India Feb 23, 2021

Bengaluru/New Delhi duo Apartment Upstairs' Rohan Pai and Shourjo Chatterjee. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Following their wavy 2019 debut EP Two on the Line, Bengaluru rock duo Apartment Upstairs deliver more soul-drenched, wistful tunes with their upcoming EP Graduation Day. “Mahua,” the second single off the EP, released last week and offers up a heady riff-centric approach juxtaposed against quieter verses. 

Singer-guitarist Rohan Pai and drummer Shourjo Chatterjee, who met in 2018 while attending college in New Delhi, found themselves drawn to making music together, soon realizing they shared a common hometown of Bengaluru. “[It’s] why you can always catch them eating paneer paratha for lunch and dosa for dinner,” a statement by the band says. 

The meeting of many worlds is evident on “Mahua,” with charged up riffs melting away for R&B/soul-inflected verses about living (and trying to escape into dreams) during the pandemic. “I’ll wait, through disease/Force it down to get some sleep,” Pai sings at one point. The duo say in a statement that the song depicts “how we and many others have approached life this past year, prioritizing certain events while failing to recognize the mayhem all around.” They add, “For us, the song represents our relationship with music: the busy, chaotic riff sections meet the calm of the verses as we recollect the distractions around us in contrast to finally settling down and playing our instruments.” 

For “Mahua,” Apartment Upstairs teamed up once again with producer Amrith Raghunathan aka Doc.Awes (from hip-hop/neo-soul band T.ill APES), who worked on Two on the Line and fueled the grooves for the heartfelt and buoyant single “I’ll Be With You.” Released in January, the song featured saxophonist Abhay Sharma (from jazz/funk group The Revisit Project) and rapper-singer Fakeer. 

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Listen to “Mahua” below and stream on more platforms here.

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