BENGALURU : Six apes in pursuit of answers and a much-awaited evolution... that’s the theme around which revolves the debut album of Bengaluru-based neo-soul-hip-hop outfit, T.ill Apes. The eight-track EP, titled Lift Off, is a blend of jazz, R&B, and hip-hop, telling the story of the primates leaving the earth on a spaceship. “Lift Off narrates the 2020 Apeship’s journey into space whereas My Ex, Stacy is a ballad about a turbulent relationship with an ex who brings out the best and worst in you. Mary Go Round is about the inner circle, about the realisations and conversations that occur between your mates while you look for a release,” says saxophonist Gautam David who joined the outfit in late 2019, a year after the band’s inception.
The current line-up features Hanumankind (rapper/ vocalist), Amrith Raghunathan (guitars/ bass/ vocals), Soorya Praveen (bass / synth /vocals), Philip John (keys / vocals), Sange Wangchuk (drums), and Gautam David (saxophone).Emphasising on the distinct approach towards songwriting and sonic aspects in the album, Raghunathan says the work was aimed at taking the listener on a journey. “The record starts off with high energy and follows a more traditional format of an album in which Side A is more energetic and Side B would be more experimental. Even though Lift Off is in the format of an EP, we wanted it to flow more like an album listening experience,” he adds.
Compared to their previous two singles – Scissor Salad and World Domination – the band’s approach to their debut EP has been different. The former, says Raghunathan, were just standalone singles written over a longer period of time. “Although it wasn’t one particular concept that originally tied all the songs, during the recording process we worked towards the single concept of Lift Off. We wanted it to be structured more cohesively so when we finally stitched the songs together, it dictated a linear pattern.
This allowed us to expand on that theme, adding interludes and soundscapes to finish the idea. We always wanted brass elements in this record and that’s why we brought in Nikhil Gaikwad on the trumpet. It gave just the right amount of attack and synergy for the commencement of the record,” says Raghunathan.Apart from the genre blend which adds to the distinct sound, what also stands out is the dense instrument arrangement. Praveen says the idea was also to write music which they can translate live.
“But we also wanted this record to be as expressive as possible, and so we had to dress it up well,” he says, talking about the excessive syncopation. Ask him about the story behind the band’s name and he says, “T.ill Apes is short for Till All People Evolve Slightly. Slowly this ridiculous idea turned into an observable paradox. Are we evolving towards the right direction? Or are we evolving at all? Are apes evolving into people or vice versa? We still don’t know. Maybe that’s for the next record to broach,” says Praveen.