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Welcoming Zia: An Interview with Aswekeepsearching

Those who have forfeited any hope of Indian bands composing music comparable to the English heavyweights of post-rock, worry not; Aswekeepsearching is the panacea to your woes. These spearheads of post-rock, a burgeoning new genre in India, are steadily on the rise. Their claim to fame lies in their knack to soulfully express feelings primarily through instruments, layered with a minimal amount of vocals wherever necessary. The band was formed in 2013 when a high school graduate, an application manager from Bengaluru, and a musician living in Pune came together in their hometown Ahmedabad, with the hopes of creating some poignant magic. They did not just that but went on to add lyrics in Hindi and wrote material for their first full-length album ‘Khwaab’.

With their debut album, the quartet did a commendable job of capturing themselves in their element. They have begun to gain momentum since, touring the likes of Russia as well as performing at major-label festivals like ‘NH7 Weekender 2016’. As the band’s latest album ‘Zia’ was recently put out on the shelves, they spoke with us about their evolution, touring life, and the making of the new release.

How has the chemistry of this band evolved since the release of Khwaab?

Although Bob and I joined the band 2 years ago, the chemistry of the band hit the spot right from day one. Over the last 2 albums, it’s just getting better as we have evolved as musicians and humans. – Gautam Deb

For any artist or band to grow, you have to be around like-minded, motivated, and positive people which all of us are. We share a common goal and this helps us put our differences aside and work towards our future. We do have arguments but that’s part and parcel of any relationship.

The members of the band, as you have said before, express the same emotion together through their own instruments. In that sense, do you feel writing songs is therapeutic?

We love doing what we do because it is therapeutic. Getting on stage and performing our songs and watching people sing our songs is a great feeling for any artist. This is what keeps us sane. We jam and write parts for a song or exchange ideas over mail and that’s what excites us. Although we write purely for selfish reasons, we are always excited about playing the songs live and seeing people react to the same.

The last one year or so has been really positive for you in terms of touring. How do you prepare for a live set, especially with so many intricate elements in your songs?

It depends actually. If we have a short set then we just make sure it’s high on energy. We have our favourites which we always keep no matter what gig we play.

You were one of the opening acts for Steven Wilson last year. Tell us about that experience. Does the magnitude of such gigs bring out a special something on stage?

To be honest every gig is the same to us. It doesn’t matter to us anymore if we play to a crowd of 20 or 20,000. Every time is special on stage and we play each gig as if it’s our last.

Describe the writing process for Zia. What direction did you choose to pursue, for this album?

We travelled quite a bit with our first album Khwaab and that really inspired us to write another album. Although we live in cities, nature really inspires us to write music. We love travelling and we write about love. Not necessarily human love but it may be unconditional love that we get from an animal or just what we feel when we see oceans and mountains. That has been the general idea and direction of our writing process.

Apart from the jam sessions, is the band actively involved behind the faders, making edits and watching a song come to life?

We think writing music is only 50 percent of the work. There is a lot that goes behind the scenes every day. We have a great crew and are practically a family. In today’s world, you have to know what you want and work hard and be smart to achieve your goal. We are purely an independent band and right from content generation to social media to the writing process is in our control and we love all these aspects that make a band, a band.

Do you feel that labelling yourselves as post-rock musicians could damper you in the future from experimenting with other genres?

We started off as a post-rock band and still have heavy post-rock influences. But in the end, it’s just music and if you write good, solid stuff your genre doesn’t matter.

How did the idea of having Hindi lyrics for your songs first come into being? Could you give us an insight into the process of drafting your lyrical content?

Hindi comes naturally to us and it connects to a wider audience at least in this sub-continent. Even outside India, it’s well received. We are proud of who we are and don’t mind putting some of our cultures into the songs we write.

Any chances of having Manipal on the map for your next tour?

Why not! We love playing to new audiences and we’ve heard so much about Manipal. This year we will make sure it happens.

What are your thoughts on the current scene of music in India? Will it reach the stability to support an artist that many music groups have been hoping for since its inception?

The independent scene has evolved quite a bit. At one time you could not even play your own songs. There are venues open to upcoming bands to showcase their talent. It still has a long way to go to become an industry, but we are on the right track.

What would your advice be for budding artists in terms of honing their talents, pursuing their passion, and finding their voice?

We think that finding your sound is very important. A band or an artist should be realistic when it comes to their goals and the people they’re playing to. Apart from that, artists must rediscover themselves regularly to create something new all the time.

What messages do you hope listeners take away from your music?

The best part about music is that people have their own stories and ideas about the songs that they listen to. Our fans shared that our music really helped them during their rough patches in life and that’s what makes us happy because it’s all about being positive and happy at the end of the day.

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