Rhymes of Reason

In the ’80s when Jivraj ‘Jiver’ Singh was just a toddler,he would often find his sleeping spot right on stage where his musician parents — Kolkata-based Jayashree and Gyan Singh — would be jamming up a storm.

Written by Somya Lakhani | Published: June 4, 2013 3:20 am

Kolkata-based bassist Gyan Singh may have bid adieu last year,but the music plays on in the house as son Jivraj,wife Jayashree and long-time friend Amyt Datta get ready with a new album

In the ’80s when Jivraj ‘Jiver’ Singh was just a toddler,he would often find his sleeping spot right on stage where his musician parents — Kolkata-based Jayashree and Gyan Singh — would be jamming up a storm. Most of his childhood tales are coincidentally linked to the musical journey of his parents as they formed some iconic bands such as Air Waves (in the ’90s) and Skinny Alley (early 2000),with guitarist Amyt Datta and percussionist Monojit Datta. As time went by,Jivraj’s interest in music grew and it was only natural for him to fix his spot on the stage,not as a napper but as a drummer instead. “This was normal family life — travelling,gigging and rehearsing. And if it was any other way,it would have been difficult,” says the 26-year-old over a telephone conversation from Kolkata.

About five years ago,while Amyt was experimenting with some riffs,Jivraj joined him on the drums and the result was a “rather experimental sound”. “I told Jiver that there’s something more to it,there is some message and this can be evolved. Gyan and Jayashree joined in and right then,we formed another band,” says 52-year-old Amyt. They named it PINKNOISE,a band with a sound that was different from the dance and R&B covers that Skinny Alley has always been known for. “It’s difficult to box our sound in a genre. You could call it exploratory electronica,harmonically sophisticated and experimental. It’s like a hot,boiling soup of all our influences ranging from jazz to disco and electronica,” explains Amyt.

Half a decade later,the band is now ready with their debut album titled Dance of the Diaspora. Interestingly,electronica tunes have been set to old Tamil nursery rhymes and oral games for children in this 10-track compilation,slated to release later this year. “We were jamming one day and Jayashree,in her bid to irritate us,began humming some old Tamil rhymes. Surprisingly,it sounded brilliant and we asked her to work on it,” says Jivraj. Once convinced,Jayashree began talking to her aunts in order to dig out rhymes her grandmother used to sing to her. So there is Dollar science,a song about a family living abroad,greedily tracking the stock market,and ironically,the rhyme teaches children how to count and then there is Bumblebee,a song about a boy growing up in UK,detesting Bollywood and embracing hip hop. “Rhymes are about life and these songs have a very tangential connection in a way. They are so relevant even now,” says vocalist Jayashree,58.

It was last year that the tightly knit indie industry heard news of PINKNOISE’s debut album. Many have since awaited the legends from Kolkata to drop some hits. “We recorded Gyan’s bass lines for all songs. But then he fell ill. After he passed away,we decided to return to the album and finish it for him. Everything we do now is for him,in a way,” says Jayashree. While Gyan’s absence is unmissable,the fact that the debut album has bass lines by him is a surreal feeling for the band. The songs have the quintessential Gyan quality,a reassuring feeling for those who have danced to his tunes. “When we rehearse,I can imagine how he will sit on that chair in a corner or how his bass guitar would sound when I stand on his left side. He is very much alive,in an imaginary way and his absence is almost romantic,” says Amyt.

Waiting in the Wings

Apart from jamming with Skinny Alley and PINKNOISE,Jivraj Singh is arguably one of the more sought-after drummers of the indie industry. A number of his albums with a slew of artistes are slated for release this year.

An album with filmmaker-rapper Quashiq Mukherjee aka Q and composer Neel Adhikari. The record will be Kolkata-based band Gandu Circus’ debut album

Jivraj and guitar demigod Amyt Datta’s chemistry on stage during a Skinny Alley/ PINKNOISE gig will now be seen in a seven track compilation titled Ambience de Dance. It comprises tracks such as Ironic Bironic and Camellia,laden with the sound of the saxophone

Indie’s new favourite child,singer-songwriter Nishchay Parekh’s debut album

Jazz musician TL Mazumdar’s upcoming album. The live shows will have the two take centerstage at the performances

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