There are very few moments in life where one witnesses a group of strangers moving in tandem, crooning the same tune and belonging together in that moment of time. That is that exactly what happened when Agam performed at the Hard Rock Café in Bangalore on Thursday, 21 January.
Fans kept screaming “once more” in unison and requesting Agam to perform their favourite songs from the “Swans of Saraswathi” to “The Boat Song” every time the stage went quiet. Agam’s success is in making their fans feel special and creating music that they crave for.
So why has Agam not made new music in a long, long time? “We have been trying to write new stuff. We consciously want to sound a lot more closer to what we want to sound like. That is saying we don’t want to sound like how we sounded earlier,” lead singer Harish Sivaramakrishnan’s told IBTimes India.
Harish revealed that while the sound they created in the past was a huge success, it is not the route that they want to take anymore. They said it has been a tough journey for the band to try and “undo something of their own doing”. “We created what has lasted this long, probably may last us a little bit longer as well. This break has lasted a little longer than what we would have liked, but I think now we are doing what we like. We are far more confident what we’re doing and next time when we speak there significantly more new stuff to write about,” Harish promised.
Lead guitarist T Praveen Kumar chimes in that the song-writing process for a new album is in fact complete. The result of the arduous journey has been that they did break out a few gems. The new set, which consists of about eight to nine songs will also form their second album.
“We have been writing this for a long time. We have wanted to do these songs. It just took us this long to tighten it, and make sure that it is indeed what we wanted. Some of these songs are our own compositions.. some are traditional,” said Harish.
Last month, Agam performed a few of these songs along with the Carnatic Music vocalist Aruna Sairam at the Madras Music Academy. She has, in fact, even written a few songs with them that will also be featured in the upcoming album.
So, how does one collaborate with a legend like Sairam? “She sent us a kind e-mail saying she loved our sound and would like collaborate. We did not even expect it to materialise. But things fell into place, and we jammed with her a lot.. .So we spent a lot of time together and we wrote a lot of stuff together. It started becoming more and more clear that this helping us create a new sound. And we said hell, we will play this live and that’s how it happened,” Harish explained.
Agam credits Sairam as the person who inspired them to question themselves about what they were doing and what more they can do. The collaboration and revision in their music clearly paid off because they received an overwhelming response from the jam-packed audience at the Madras Music Academy.
How is Agam’s latest music different from what we have already heard? Harish explained that they had a drive to make music that is reflective of what each band member’s musical preferences were. “We have a collective sound, but we have all also managed to maintain our own musical individualities and we have safeguarded that very fiercely. We went on our individual trajectories… and it’s a rewarding, but time-consuming process,” Harish explained before adding, “We all know what Agam wants to be…but unless we are all at peace with what we want to be, we’re not gonna be able to write a second album.. or we will.. it will sound like an extension of the first album. Oh so predictable.”
“I think more thought is going into how individual songs should sound different from each other and the songs we have done in the past,” adds Praveen.
Harish teases the new album, which remains unnamed, by saying it is far more theatrical than their previous songs. “We have a big strings section playing with all our songs – like a full-fledged choir running with our stuff. More orchestral more classical, when I say cinematic.. not Indian cinematic.. far more orchestral cinematic. Broadway like in a Philharmonic sound,” he said.
Agam is also on a rigorous routine to make sure the second album comes out in 2016. “We have de-prioritised everything else. We are now consciously doing fewer gigs – two a month, or people might forget us,” says Harish adding, “We are at the studio 13-14 hours a do. Today we are here (at Hard Rock Café, Bangalore)… Tomorrow morning we are again in the studio and we are only getting out on 27th morning. So we are crashing there that’s the only way we can do it.”
We concluded the interview with the hope that Agam will soon collaborate with their musical heroes Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Niladri Kumar and Shankar Mahadevan. “If not today, then tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then next year,” Harish said before heading towards the Hard Rock Cafe stage.