Being raw, honest, and deeply rooted with Indian traditions lies at the heart of indie band The Local Train, another glimpse of which will be visible in the upcoming SulaFest on February 1 and 2. In an exclusive interview with us, they reassert this poetic avatar by talking about the country’s music scene, culture, and more. By Bayar Jain
1. India is host to innumerable music festivals all year around. What do you think makes SulaFest, particularly this year’s edition, stand out from the rest?
As musicians, we often get to see different kinds of music festivals. Nashik doesn’t have too many musical festivals, apart from SulaFest. Last year, we met a few artists who had already played at SulaFest, and they have told us that the kind of music they experienced here was pretty vast and diverse. Artists from all over the world have come and performed here. Besides, we’ve been a big fan of Sula, and it feels really good to be a part of it this year. We’re really looking forward to it.
2. This is your maiden performance at the coveted SulaFest. What convinced you to make your debut here?
Honestly, we did not need any convincing to perform at SulaFest. We think it’s a great place for the people like us — who’ve never explored this side of the country before — to come and perform in front of a new audience. For the past one year, we have been getting lot of queries and messages from people asking why we hadn’t played at Nashik yet. We didn’t even know that people from this city knew our music! So, to actually go and perform for these people will be a great experience for us.
3. What inspired you to create music with empathetic lyrics, which blend Urdu and Hindi?
Our band mostly consists of 90’s kids who grew up listening to Indian music before being introduced to genres like pop and rock. Because of this, our roots and thoughts are still essentially in Hindi. Even our internal dialogues are in Hindi. Moreover, Urdu poetry has been a part of us since the beginning, and we enjoy it a lot. That’s why when it comes to expressing ourselves, especially through Hindi music, it has always been natural and poetic for us.
4. You’re a home-grown band from Chandigarh and Delhi. How have these cities impacted your work?
We are all from different places, but we eventually met in Chandigarh for college. Life in Chandigarh is a little laid back. At times, it can get too convenient. Cities like these inspire you in a different way when compared with faster-paced cities like Delhi and Mumbai. So, Chandigarh’s style of living gave us a different perspective of seeing the world.
5. You’ve performed all over the country in places like Mumbai, Delhi, Shimla, Kangra, Calicut, Trivandrum, and more. Among the many cities you’ve performed in, which Indian city would you consider the musical capital, and why?
Honestly, we don’t think India has a musical capital. Right now, as a country, we are in the initial stages of discovering our own independent music scene, culture, voice and art. With millennials, everything has changed in terms of musical exposure. There’s been many influences from other countries. At this time, we shouldn’t be experimenting by bringing western sounds into Indian music. Take Jammu, or even north east for that matter… We have some brilliant artists coming from there. Having said that, no one particular place can stand out as a musical capital just as yet. India will eventually find one.
6. If given a chance to tour in only one country – apart from India – for a month, where would you go, and why?
It will be have to be Japan because there is a lot happening there. Countries like Japan and Korea intrigue us as their art and culture is not as mainstream. We think it will be very interesting to see how people react when they listen to us play. To take our music to a place which is completely different in terms of culture and language will be quite thrilling and interesting.
7. Being a four-piece band, how do you incorporate various tastes, opinions, and styles into your music-making process?
If a person is a solo artist, his/her influences will be very unilateral but with four people, you have four independent minds working together on a craft. Even though all of us come from different influences, we are all on the same page when working, despite listening to different music, leading different lives, and coming from different backgrounds. It’s because of these differences that everybody brings a certain flavour to the table, making the final version of the song quite interesting to listen to. That’s how The Local Train becomes a band — by bringing together various perspectives.
8. When facing a creative block, where do you go for inspiration, and why?
In January 2018, when our album Vaaqif came out, we had been touring on the road non stop. During that time, we performed at various shows back to back without sleeping for two years. At the same time, we were also expected to get back in the studio to create something new. Naturally, then, inspiration became difficult and it got hard for us to write. That’s when we decided that, as a band, we would only do one thing at a time instead of doing everything at once. Now, we take breaks, pack our bags and travel, spend time at home, and come back with a refreshed zeal to create music.