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Mumbai Beatboxing Group Voctronica Begin Work On New EP

The a cappella/beatboxing group were recently roped in by comedy collective All India Bakchod for a medley that paid tribute to classic Indian ads

Jessica Kilbane Jul 22, 2014
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Voctronica - Parizad D

Voctronica | Photo Credit: Parizad D

Waiting in grid-locked traffic with cars lined up bumper to bumper leaves no room for inspiration. That is, unless you’re a member of Mumbai-based a cappella/beatboxing band Voctronica. Says Meghana Bhogle, one of the group’s vocalists, “Raj [Verma] came to practice and said, ”˜There was a traffic jam. There was a truck. This is the sound that it made.’ A song usually starts from something that one of us learned that day.”

Voctronica, formed in 2011, draws inspiration from various artists such as comedy group Lonely Island and fusion band Snarky Puppy. Their recent collaboration with comedy collective All India Bakchod that paid tribute to classic Indian ads, began with an idea spawned by Mumbai-based stand up comic Tanmay Bhat and was a process that spanned six months. A quick search for beatboxers led them to Voctronica, who added their own spin to the track. Says Arjun Nair, “All India Bakchod were very clear about what they wanted. The idea of the track was not just about which jingles go together. It was very important to make sure that we respected each track, because these are some of the catchiest tunes that we’ve come across. We’ve tried to do justice to it.”

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In addition to Bhogle,  Verma and Nair, the six-member band consists of Avinash Tewari, Warsha Easwar and Clyde Rodrigues. Says Nair, “Six people means that there’s a unified vision in what the song is going to be. It helps us, rather than being a limitation.” Using only vocal modulation, the band adds harmonies, percussion and melodies to create complex, layered sounds ”“ emulating everything from soft guitar lines to hard machine drums. Adds Nair, “We have fixed roles within the band, but they are not defined roles in terms of limitations, it’s more about playing to people’s strengths.”

Over the course of the next year, the band has a slew of releases planned ”“ each of which will have an accompanying video and will demonstrate greater emphasis on songwriting. Says Easwar, “The concept of less is more is something that we believe in. When people hear a track, then don’t always get what’s going on. But seeing it visually will make them more aware of what’s actually happening, it’s why we’re focusing so strongly on video.” Adds Nair, “The secret is that it’s a language, not a skill. We’re trying to push our musical ideas, but in a manner that gets absorbed.”

To help audiences get comfortable with the idea of vocals being used as instruments, the band incorporates a circle jam session into every live performance. Verma and Nair create the basic beats and loops, after which the other band members join in, each sequencing mezzanine layers of sounds and lyrics. Says Bhogle, “We break it down for audiences so they understand. We try to mash up beatboxing and a cappella and focus on harmonies, melodies and lyrics, which makes it more complex than beatboxing, more musically rich.” The band emphasizes that first time listeners often care more about what they’re hearing, rather than the intricacy of the vocal polyrhythms. Adds Bhogle, “We create these intricate, complex things which come across as simple. So we flip it in a way that it works to our advantage. We create a set of covers and mash-ups, or use Bollywood or pop tracks that people can relate to.”

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Voctronica will release their next single in August, followed by their debut EP later this year.


Watch Voctronica’s “A Tribute To Classic Indian Ads”


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