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Swarathma On Why ‘Content’ is Not A Bad Word in Music

The Bengaluru folk-fusion band have been continually figuring out how to engage with fans online and offline, with everything from comic story format animated videos and performance videos

Anurag Tagat Oct 31, 2019

Swarathma in a still from their music video for 'Beta Sweater Pehno'

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Bengaluru folk-fusion band Swarathma’s ever-enterprising bassist-vocalist and manager Jishnu Dasgupta has just told us he’s signed up for TikTok. “There is a merit to every platform,” he says. Meanwhile, this seems like a revelation to guitarist Varun Murali.

He says, “I’m thinking, what on earth is TikTok?” Dasgupta quips, “And this is the youngest member of the band saying this.”

In the decade plus that Swarathma have become growingly involved in the online sphere to promote their music, they’ve taken up everything from brand partnerships to EDM remixes and of course, video content such as tour diaries and live performance footage. Dasgupta says, “We’re very consistent in the offline world – we regularly perform concerts, write songs for projects or our own music and rehearse – and we just have to bring that consistency into the online world.”

Watch the video for “Kaash”

At the same time, consistency is not necessarily quantity but also quality. Murali says the band is less likely to hop on to any trends. “We have to find things to do that are not unnatural or uncomfortable for us,” he says. Dasgupta adds that they’ve never thought of themselves as content creators until recently. He adds, “I don’t think we can afford to be averse to anything to do with content. We’re in the business of creating music and music is a form of content.”

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As much as there’s heavy marketing concepts and components attached to the term “content,” Dasgupta says they just want to be themselves. Among the advice they’ve got is to cover their favorite songs and post it on YouTube. He adds, “We’d like to create what we’re searching for, not on YouTube, but internally.”

Watch the video for “Manwa”

This is perhaps where Swarathma’s video and audio aesthetic scores – for creating enriching stories around equally soulful music. In addition to garden jams (where frontman Vasu Dixit’s dog might run into the frame) and a live performance series with Red Bull, the band has been releasing animated lyric videos for songs off their 2018 album Raah E Fakira. While the accompanying comic book full of stories (with each track’s underlying message) was made by Kolkata art collective Ghost Animation, they called on Mumbai-based filmmaker and animator Kyra Kion to create lyric videos that lent an animated video feel to the comic stories. Dasgupta says there’s at least two more videos coming up. “Those are the things we’re trying to do to keep it fresh,” he adds.

Additionally, they’re looking at newly launched platforms like Spotify India and other streaming sites such as JioSaavn to understand streaming trends and listener habits. Dasgupta however adds that none of this is a paramount concern for the band. “Our meetings are not filled with, ‘Yeah, we’re not doing well on Instagram.’ I would rather have a fight about whether a song sounds good or this progression or melody sounds good. That’s where the fun needs to be had.”

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Watch the video for “Sangat Ki Rangat” 

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