A day before their sold-out show at the Royal Opera House in Mumbai last week, pop duo Nischay Parekh of Parekh & Singh spoke eloquently about performing their music at the prestigious venue. “It is a perfect setting for the show, especially since we’ll be performing with a string quartet. This is music that is going to be enjoyed by an attentive and engaged audience. The moment you enter the theatre, you are disconnected from the sounds of the street outside. Looking at the interiors and the way the seats are stacked, straight off the bat you know this is a place to share art,” he said. And shared it was — on Instagram, Facebook and other social media, as the Kolkata-based dream pop duo took the stage in their dark mustard suits to perform songs from their acclaimed debut, Ocean, and a few new ones from their forthcoming sophomore album.
Parekh & Singh burst on to the scene last year, with the release of I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll, along with its Wes Anderson-inspired and approved music video, and since then have steadily been performing across the country to an audience captivated by their Pantone-hued sharp suits, whimsical songwriting, and layered melodies that gently set a carousel of moods and memories into motion. “Pop music is a very wide and flexible genre and that is what works for us. A loose idea of the song, what sections come after each other, the lyrics and the harmonies are made by me. We listen to it together and then Jivraj will interject it with rhythm, pulse. When we imagine music, we both think in absolutes — we like to come in with specifics,” says Parekh.
Signed by Peacefrog Records, a London-based independent label, the duo toured the UK in May, where every press interaction remarked on their aesthetic. “Maybe it’s just that we both went to the same school, La Martiniere for Boys in Kolkata, and we’ve stuck to wearing a tie. We’ve been dabbling with the visual side of things from the beginning. We’re concerned with how things look, and we want all the design elements to be cohesive,” says Singh. Are they tired of the Wes Anderson-related comments? “Yes,” they reply in unison.
There’s not much by the way of stage patter at a Parekh & Singh show, but Parekh is not one to force the issue — he’d rather have the song speak for itself. “When you’re a young songwriter, one of things you can acutely feel is vulnerability, and express that in words. When you write about yourself, it can ring the truest with an audience, and resonate with them,” he says.
If Ocean is a whimsical yet deeply personal album dealing with childhood, daydreaming, young love and belonging, the duo are moving sideways in their yet-to-be named upcoming album. “It is futuristic in many ways. There are newer topics — there’s a song called Surgeon, which is about the Higgs-Boson particle. A few years ago, everybody spoke about it like it was the key to the secrets of the universe, and I was deeply inspired by that. Surgeon is about how humans are the only species that can make discoveries and change the way we live. Then there’s Sunbeam, which is about overcoming diseases and immunity,” says Parekh, who thinks nothing of going from science to dengue in an album. And judging by the rousing applause at the end of their show, nor do their fans.