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No Hero Collaborates With Xcpt. and A La Moksh on Experimental New EP ‘Sharam Masala’

Bengaluru-based musician No Hero joins forces with hip-hop artists Xcpt and A La Moksh for a bi-lingual, alternative hip-hop and rock-tronica EP

Varshita Ramesh Apr 20, 2017

Album art for ‘Sharam Masala’, experimental EP released by producer No Hero and hip hop artists Xcpt. and A La Moksh . Artwork: Courtesy of the artist 

Akhil Kodamanchili, Aishan Vali, and Sameer Ul Haque are self-described “fun-loving, trailblazing, ass-kicking” degenerates, but they’re the first to point out the irony in the name of their new EP, Sharam Masala, which they believe to be a testament to their hard work, passion and growth as artists””no shame involved. The release marks the first official collaboration between Kodamanchili, who performs under the moniker No Hero, and hip-hop artists Vali and Ul Haque, who go by Xcpt. and A La Moksh respectively, although the trio have been performing together on and off since they first became friends in Hyderabad years ago. “This body of work was actually indicative of a big learning curve that I’ve been through the last year and a half as a producer–some of this music was on my computer while I released a bunch of other music” says Kodamanchili. “I think we all were more grown up at the end of it that when we started this EP.” 

Fuelled by the trio’s raw desire to stand out, the EP serves as a poetic, musically decadent and psychedelic journey. The amalgamation of guitar and synthetic sounds are driven forward by the versatile delivery of articulate lyrics in both English and Hindi. “Originality is really important to us, and I think we’ve managed to approach topics from some new perspectives,” says Vali.

“When you listen to this EP, your current opinions on hip-hop will suffer a great tremor,” agrees Ul Haque. “My goal with this album was to get people introduced to new styles of writing, concepts and to offer something that’s a healthy alternative to those who think hip-hop is all that you see on TV–the overtly sexualized nonsense.”

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Though the trio refrains from taking the ”˜four-chord progression’ way out, their idea of intelligent music is not about complicated melodies or rhythms or philosophically deep concepts, but just about being genuine with your sound and words. Sharam Masala aims to be an EP that treats the listener with respect, with the knowledge that they can keep up with the music. “Far too many artists and labels treat the audience like five year olds who can’t grasp the nuances of anything,” says Vali. “That’s unfair to them. It’s unfortunate that we have to remind the corporations behind mainstream music that.”

Recorded over the course of one year and a lot of disagreements, the four songs in the EP remain loyal to its message. According to Vali, Sharam Masala is about “finding our way through a minefield of information saturation, ruminating about abstract concepts of the self, running into existential questions [and] donning new lens to see the world through.”For example, the song “Wabi Sabi” attempts to subvert the concept of brokenness into something beautiful. “Perfection is a concept that can cage you and beat you down,” says Vali. “Give me ”˜cracked’ but ”˜free’ any day.”

Akhil Kodamanchili aka No Hero: “I do not want people to share my music because it’s cool to.” Photo: Courtesy of the artist

The trio are influenced by a range of musicians such as British guitarist Guthrie Govan, hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest and even Kerala-based rock band Avial. However, they don’t shy away from looking at some of their influences more critically. “I have to admit I am a musician today because of Linkin Park and I am deeply upset by the way they use their superior resources currently, but they claim it to be them growing up, so I suppose all I can do is be disappointed,” says Kodamanchili. “I do not want people to share my music because it’s cool to. I don’t like to the way every toothpaste claims to be recommended by 90% of all dentists just to make sales… get the drift?”

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Kodamanchili, Vali and Ul Haque have no intentions of stopping at this EP: each have far-reaching ambitions to spread their arms out even farther into the music scene. “If things go exceptionally well, I would like to be producing the next Linkin Park record, have Guthrie Govan do a guest solo on one of my guitar centric tracks and also travel to lot of new places,” says Kodamanchili (given, of course, that “none of the sociopath leaders of the world press any big red buttons before these dreams of mine are realized”). Ul Haque has less international but nonetheless lofty goals: “Currently I’m in a state to make a hell lot of music,” he says. “I’m here to change the whole game of Hindi rap. So [there] ain’t no stopping.”

Vali, for his part, wants to continue forming the sorts of collaborations that birthed Sharam Masala. “I’d like to collaborate with artists that i really respect, across genres. I get a real kick out of trying something new,” he says. “We spend far too much time being hermits. The world could do with a little more face to face interaction.”

Listen to “sights.sounds.city,” a song off ‘Sharam Masala’: 

[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnZWqFiNCbg[/youtube]