Let’s make one thing clear at the start; listening to Farfetch’d could be one of the best decisions you will make in a while.
I think the the following video should be pretty persuasive:
And if that isn’t enough, the final version should do the trick:
What you just witnessed was the evolution of the opening track of what has got to be one of the finest albums to be released in India this year. Southern Skies Motel, through the entire duration of its 7 tracks, is a breathtaking journey that makes you, to put it simply, want to live, something that not a lot of music is capable of doing nowadays. It is a beautiful narrative, conveyed in a multitude of styles, with something different for every listener to take back with them. I guess the bottom line is that this act from Bangalore, over the course of its two albums, has influenced me enough to wax lyrical for not the first time over its music, and I believe, given a few listens, it isn’t too Farfetch’d to say it might just make you fall in love with it too.
A three piece act that started out as a bedroom project by the immensely talented Akash Murthy, Farfetch’d is truly a joy to listen to, regardless of whether you’re listening to their debut album The Alchemist, which was exceptional by itself, or their second full length release, which I’ve gushed about enough already. With both being solo efforts by Akash himself, the act is a breath of fresh air with its willingness to experiment, the result being a discography that’s already versatile. I could go on about the band, but I’d rather you check out what I consider to be the best track on SSM and read the great interview we had with Akash.
Q) From the guitarist of a metalcore band to creating two great albums while working at an IT firm; what has the journey been like?
It’s been smooth sailing really. The transitions from metal to post rock was quite seamless and without much drama. But it wasn’t all cheerful on the employment front. When I was in college, I came out with the first Farfetch’d album, The Alchemist. I had a lot of time on my hands then, and I could really delve into recording at my convenience. But straight out of college, I was pushed into Wipro, in the midst of recording pieces for what was later going to be the second album. Though my time at Wipro was very productive on a technical standpoint, I couldn’t spend time on music, or more precisely, I lacked the motivation to do so. A couple of years later, I realized that IT wasn’t for me and I quit. This was 5 months ago, and it’s been a ball! I have more time than I need and getting back to recording after a 2 year hiatus was easier than I thought.
Q) Could you tell us a bit about each track on Southern Skies Motel? Why has it taken so long to release as a whole? Has the album turned out to be as you envisaged at the start?
Southern Skies Motel is a very abstract album. It doesn’t stick to a particular genre, rather it is an amalgamation of variety of styles. I always wanted to diversify from generic post rock, and this was my attempt at it. Each track is associated with a short story, so vividly different from each song, but sort of come together on a cosmic scale, if that makes any sense at all! You can check out all the stories associated with each song here: www.farfetchd-official.com/ssm. I wouldn’t change any part of any song. I was completely satisfied with the whole album before releasing it. True, Southern Skies Motel was in the pipes for a very long time, 3 years in fact. But, as I mentioned, I spent 2 of those years on a break from music.
Q) Your latest album has tracks spanning a variety of styles. Is that a conscious effort? What is the creative process behind Farfetch’d’s compositions?
It was a pretty conscious effort at diversifying. I wanted to have a mixed bag of everything on the album, from orchestral, symphonic acoustic to progressive, experimental, electronic music. I threw in a bit of pop as well in “Collide”! So yeah, I definitely tried hard to variate. The process behind the songwriting is fairly straightforward. With Southern Skies Motel, all the songs are based primarily on acoustic guitar lines. So once I compose a structure to a song, I roughly record the acoustic parts, and I try adding layers of ambience, soundscapes and synths. Next, I program the drums, add the bass and then re-record everything, paying more attention to detail.
Q) You are a DIY electronics enthusiast and your compositions involve a lot of technical wizardry behind the scenes. Any tips to musicians on how to make the most of software and equipment in their songs?
Well, you definitely don’t need to be an electronics guy to make good use of software or equipment. I would say, know your basics and have the courage to experiment. Modern plugins, softwares and equipments are very user friendly, with interactive GUIs which give you full control. But with that comes a whole host of parameters that you can tweak and play around. Experimenting is fun, but doing it blindly will get you bad results more often than not. Read articles and blogs on all the different parameters and aspects your device has to offer. For example, what’s a compressor, what does the ratio knob on a compressor do. What’s the pre-delay parameter on a digital delay? Having a working knowledge of these will give you enough insight into sculpting the sound that you want.
Q) As a part of what could be defined loosely as the ‘ambient rock’ scene, what is your opinion regarding the other acts in India? Do you feel that the ‘India’ tag should have an effect on the music one makes in any way?
The ambient rock scene is such a bliss right now in India. I see so many band with such amazing material, all of them a class apart. Bands like Space is all we Have, aswekeepsearching, Mushroom Lake, Celestial Teapot, Ioish and so many others have been creating music so vividly different from each other, yet coming together under one banner. The ‘India’ tag should never be placed on any band. They are consequently from India, yes, but their music is universal and on par with any international band.
Q) Southern Skies Motel has got a great reception from people around the world. How significant has the support from abroad been in comparison to things at home? Do you feel that experimental acts like yourself get enough love in the country?
I was a bit skeptical on how the audience might receive this album, because it was quite experimental and Farfetch’d hadn’t had a big enough fan base for the music to reach out. But I was extremely pleased with the response that I got. A lot of blogs picked it up and reviewed it. Many people from around the globe and from India as well, have generously donated whatever they could afford while downloading the album, even though it’s free to download. It’s great to get emails from Bandcamp titled ‘Cha ching! You have received $X from this guy’! There are more than a handful of experimental acts in India, and I think there is enough love to go around!
Q) You have expressed earlier that major venues and event managers in the scene generally shy away from acts that aren’t natural crowd pullers. Do you believe that highly experimental acts like Farfetch’d can exist as full time musicians? Have you considered working as a one?
Well, it is true. Venues and event guys choose bands with high face value, bigger fan base and generally upbeat music that a large majority can enjoy or groove to. But it’s not to say that experimental acts can’t exist as full time musicians. A lot more hard work and determination is need to get more and better gigs, pull in crowd, manage your budget, market your band, rehearse, make new music and engage with your audience. But as for me, I have never wanted to be a full time musician. My interest lies in the technical aspects of audio and production. That’s what I am working toward.
Q) You have mentioned that there’s another album in the works. What can the fans expect from Farfetch’d in the coming months?
Well right now, I’m in Maynooth, Ireland, studying audio technology and programming. I’m also writing some math rock stuff, influenced by Pretend, Clever Girl, Stuck in November and the likes. I have no idea how the next Farfetch’d record will turn out. I haven’t put much thought into it. But it’ll definitely be nothing like before!
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