Parekh & Singh Ponder The Big Picture on Second Album ‘Science City’
The Kolkata dream-pop duo talk about world tour plans, the wait behind their new record and being “passionate dabblers”
When Kolkata singer-songwriter Nischay Parekh was 15 years old, he wrote “Monkey,” which also became the name of one of his first bands, Monkey In Me. It’s been a decade since (and Parekh jokingly faults us for making him feel old), but the simple love song still sounds as fresh as ever on Parekh & Singh’s second album Science City.
“I was sitting on the floor with one of my friends from school who played bass, and I just played these guitar chords and started throwing these words on top of it in a collage style. I wasn’t very concerned with theme or context in songwriting back then, so the song was almost constructed to be ‘candy.’ A truly spontaneous piece of music for me,” says Parekh.
Since then, we’ve seen their breakout, worldwide-reaching debut album Ocean, released first in 2013 and then by U.K.’s Peacefrog records in 2016. It offered just a glimpse into their weird and wondrous world, but Science City, which takes its name from the museum and science center in Kolkata, zooms out just a little more. As songwriters, Parekh & Singh seem to have microscopes and telescopes alike, for when they look out into the universe as well as into their own souls. Drummer-producer Jivraj Singh says about the place Science City, “It’s very inspiring for anyone slightly geeky. That feel is there for both of us. We’re both super keen on how things work, just interested in physics and math, not on a technical deep level, but just as passionate dabblers in the sciences.”
The songs of course, are still predominantly about love. Singh says, “Because I guess it’s such a big part of the human experience in whatever way.” He describes the last couple of years as “intense.” Singh lost his mother and veteran vocalist Jayashree Singh to cancer in January last year. These 11 songs, in the works since 2015 and before, provide comfort by being melancholic, slower and subtler. Compared to Ocean, there’s a more outward looking philosophy on Science City. Singh says, “Sometimes you look outside to escape the things you’re feeling inside and vice versa. Sometimes you want to go inside because the outside world is not particularly pleasant. This navigation of life is sort of inside these songs.”
The songs on Science City cover Singh’s robotic drumming prowess, filling in breaks where you least expect it, while Parekh keeps his melodic intent unpredictable on songs like the apocalyptic pop of “Sunbeam.” There’s quick-paced pop on “Down at the Sky” which touches on evolution, while the love songs stay true on “Hello” and “Be Something.” They meld their inward and outward looking stance perfectly on the poignant, stargazing “Summer Skin,” while insomnia reigns on “Evening Sun.” The somber tone follows on the slow and mellow “Forward Slash” and “One Hundred Shadows.” But rather than end on a downbeat note, there’s a fully mature groovy synth-funk laden closer called “Crystalline” to pick up spirits.
Over the years that Parekh & Singh have spent promoting Ocean across the U.K. and in India, they also began working in earnest on the visual world of Science City. Parekh says about the wait, “I think the mechanics of the music industry compelled us to hold off a little longer, make some new videos and photos and construct a new world for our music to live in. It’s almost been like a full system reset and yes, it’s been a challenge.”
Now with Parekh living in Dubai, the duo aren’t just down the road from each other to jam and listen to music. The singer, guitarist and synth player says, “It’s easy to stay in touch. Of course it’s a bummer to not be able to just pop into his music room and mess around on all the instruments. I think the geographic distance brings more focus and purpose to our friendship. I also think it was important for me to step out of my comfort zone in India and soak in a new world for personal and artistic evolution.”
Singh for his part says that considering the regular rehearsals they’ve had over the years, getting these songs stage-ready won’t be difficult. On their upcoming India tour, they’re joined by synth artist Rohan Rajadhyaksha (from alt-rockers Spud In The Box, acoustic artist Dhruv Visvanath and more) and bassist Pedro Zappa (who contributed on Ocean). “The thing now will be to make the new songs as true to the album as possible, which is not really something we were doing earlier,” Singh adds.
In addition to the India tour through May, Parekh & Singh are also slated to perform at the Singapore F1 Grand Prix in September, alongside the likes of rapper Cardi B, funk rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers, electro-rock giants Muse, EDM trio Swedish House Mafia and more. Parekh adds, “We also have many fans in the region, so we hope to put together a small tour around the Grand Prix date.”
Watch the video for “Hello” below. Stream or buy ‘Science City’ here.
Parekh & Singh Science City India Tour 2019
May 4th – TopCat, Kolkata
May 12th – Fandom at Gilly’s Redefined, Bengaluru.
May 17th – Sri Sathya Sai Auditorium, New Delhi
May 25th – Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir Auditorium, Mumbai
Get tickets here.