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Peepal Tree Release New Single ‘Cauvery,’ Announce Grammy Ballot Entry

The Bengaluru multilingual rock band pay tribute to the oft-politicized river

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Anurag Tagat Nov 11, 2019

Bengaluru rock band Peepal Tree. Photo: Courtesy of The Big Beat Media

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To coincide with the state formation day – Karnataka Rajyotsava on November 1st – Bengaluru rock band Peepal Tree released their latest song “Cauvery,” bringing together a “positive message.”

While the river’s water sharing pacts have for long been a political plank and caused tensions between Karnataka and its neighboring state of Tamil Nadu, Peepal Tree’s vocalist Sujay Harthi says their inspiration for the song came from just beholding Cauvery in its natural setting. “The genesis came about two years ago when we were in Coorg when we were trying to do a video for ‘Nayi Khushi,’” the vocalist says.

Seeing photos from their time, guitarist Tony Das’ friend Devika Devaiah, who co-founded the Save River Cauvery organization suggested that they write a song on Cauvery. While the release of their debut album Chetana in 2018 took away attention from writing “Cauvery,” Harthi notes that it was a “lingering thought” within the band. Bassist Praveen Biligiri wrote a vocal melody and with a few gigs getting canceled on account of licensing issues for music venues in Bengaluru, the band incidentally found time to finish the song.

Harthi says, “We realized that a lot of activism has a ‘negative’ connotation attached to it. People get sucked into the whole who’s right and who’s wrong, rather than celebrating – in this case Cauvery, but also any river or nature itself for what it is.” Fully aware of the political and regional sentiments it can bring out, the ebullient Kannada rock song celebrates how “nature is for one and all, without any discrimination.”

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The release follows the band’s October announcement of Chetana making it onto the Grammy awards ballot for Best Rock Album at the forthcoming edition. Harthi explains that the nomination was facilitated by Recording Academy member and friend of the band George Varghese. “In the late Nineties, he used to lead the band called Mixed Fruit Jam, in which Tony and Willy [Demoz, drummer] were involved. He’s since then been settled in the U.S. and runs Verge Studios there [in Seattle]. He guided us when he heard the album and said, ‘You guys should give it a shot.’ We thought, ‘Yeah, a long shot.’”

Amongst more than 30,000 entries, Peepal Tree’s Chetana – originally submitted for the Best World Music Album category – has now been shortlisted for the Grammy ballot, where it will be considered for nomination for Best Rock Album at the 62nd Grammy Awards. Harthi adds, “We’re pretty happy, because to make it into the final five in the Rock category is almost impossible, without the label and the industry pushes. It’s just what the music has done for us so far.”

Watch the video for “Cauvery” below. Stream it on Apple Music and Spotify

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