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Two to Tango—Sitting Down with Bryden and Parth

Bryden and Parth are no strangers to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Indian music industry behemoths Aditya Chopra and Raghu Dixit during the course of a regular work day. Despite this, their humility keeps them rooted firmly to the ground, with abundant wisdom to go around. The Post had the opportunity to converse with them about learning the ropes of composing music in Bollywood, rising to YouTube stardom in this day and age, and much more.

Could you tell us how you guys started out as a band?

It’s a long story. So both of us used to play for the Raghu Dixit project, and that’s where we met. We played with that project for five years. We were jamming together for 5 years, and it was the casual jams that happened after the shows that turned into putting out content on YouTube. I mean we obviously discovered at the end of 5 years that there was chemistry when the both of us played, and everyone around us enjoyed the music. So we decided to put out a video on YouTube and that’s pretty much where it started. Something very casual turned into something very serious.  We didn’t have any intention to do this, it was just fun jamming.

Parth and Bryden in a still from a music video, circa 2014.

What was it like working with Raghu Dixit?

Raghu has been in the scene for a while now, and we were very young when we were invited to play with him. It was slightly intimidating, since he was pretty much a pioneer in the indie music scene, and because of the kind of venues he’s played at both in India and internationally as well.  So working with him was a huge learning experience, especially for me, because I come from a Western music background. That said, there were still no compromises in my style of playing. I learned so much along the way, just in terms of how to be a touring artist, and the whole Indian side of music and everything. So it was a huge experience, and for anyone of that age you can just imagine what it would be like.

Seeing as you guys have differing influences, how do you bring them together while making music?

The combination of our styles is very straightforward.  There are no compromises in our style, we don’t try and do what the other person is doing, because we have Parth who is very strong with his Indian music, and he covers that style and sounds with flute even with saxophone and the harmonica. He plays most of the wind instruments. I emulate those sounds through the exotic instruments that I play, like the ukulele, the bouzouki, I really like trying different string instruments.  But the influences are strong you can hear it in the arrangement; I think that’s the strongest area of ours. The arrangement is always Western for the most part. If you come to our live shows—of course YouTube videos tell a very different story—but the live shows are always how we like it and how we want it. It’s a very strong influence of Western music and Indian music.

Seen playing with The Raghu Dixit Project

Tell us about your experience working as music composers in Bollywood.

Commercial work is always restricted because it’s commercial, it’s a pre-planned audience with a pre-planned everything. But at the same time, we had a great time putting out music, because if there’s a script for one song, you’re basically testing five songs around it. So again, we were very young, and we were working with Yash Raj, Aditya Chopra was basically the guy telling us whether the songs were working or not, so it was huge. Raghu was the music director for the film, and we were associate composers.

How much of an influence has your shared love for Hindustani music been in this project?

It’s not an influence as such. Both of us have, in our separate lives, watched every single Bollywood film with our parents, so it comes naturally. We wouldn’t call it an influence, but it was such a huge part of our lives that it comes innately to us, and a lot of people in Bangalore are surprised to see that. Whenever they assume we are giving in to Bollywood, it’s the other way around, it’s part of our blood. That’s why it happens so naturally. Even the covers that we do, we put out the songs that both of us really like, and then we look into how we should arrange them.

These days, most artists can use mediums like SoundCloud to spread their music, but you guys got more famous on YouTube. So why did you choose YouTube? How did you branch out into it?

Because I think both of us figured out that the visual appeal is as strong as the audio. Putting out video content is very important in today’s time especially because the platform is evolving to bring more visual, and of course audio is always there, but YouTube and platforms like Instagram are all very visual. So much so, that you can even mute a video and you’ll have subtitles to it. So you’re basically still consuming content without listening to the audio, but of course, even though the music is always the focus, we also wanted to be visually out there. It’s not the most appealing thing to see the two of us on screen, but it’s nice to be seen on those kinds of platforms especially.

Pictured with the crew of the Bryden and Parth band. Credits: New Indian Express

We see that you have done a lot of cover songs. Do you like doing cover songs or writing original pieces?

Both of those come from an independent background but writing our own music is the most satisfying. While we are buying time by putting out a lot covers and doing a lot of live shows, we’re also writing our album at the same time. That’s going to be an independent album with independent original music, so hopefully by next year, we should have a lot of the original music coming out.

Do you guys give emphasis to writing lyrics, or do you prefer that the instruments do the talking?

Always the melody first. The only way I think, is through a melody. I don’t think writing lyrics is our strongest point, but Bryden comes from a background where he’s focused a lot on arrangement, and he’s also the lead guitarist. Composing the music first comes very naturally to us. I think our vocabulary has to reach a certain maturity to draw inspiration for lyrics, because both of us don’t read much, so the lyrical angle is always secondary. But you never know, while the album is progressing, we may work the other way around as well.

You’ve been voted Best Metal Guitarist by Rolling Stone. So can you tell us what, to you, makes a good guitarist?

Someone who practises, someone who makes space for his part in a song, because I feel a lot of people lose out because they overplay or underplay. Your musicianship needs to mature in a way that you can portray yourself. So for me, it’s not like fast playing or extremely peaceful, I feel it’s doing something at the right moment. And it shows, you know, as a musician grows, you can hear it when they play. But I’m not the type who says less is more, I feel like if you can play fast then you may as well do it right, but you’ve got to do it right, there should be a lot of musicality involved in it.

So I don’t think as a guitarist at all, I only think as a producer. Back then I didn’t know but clearly I was more inclined towards producing, like I looked at the overall song. And if I have to break it down to a solo, I like putting a song within a song. It’s because of the way I grew up with musicians around me, even simple songs by bands like Iron Maiden, you can sing their solos, and I’m a very melodic player. I mean those are my influences – bands like Europe, Earthquake, Maiden, I’m not the Metallica type.

Featured image credits: Deccan Chronicle