Drawing on experiences to create music
Indie-rock band Curtains tell us about their music influences and more.
DELHI-based musicians Dev Bhardwaj and Prakhar Yadav—they met on a school trip, have been friends for about six years, and are now in their final year of college—mention that they have ‘greatly influenced each other’. In fact, the duo that form the indie-rock band Curtains, share that, over the years, they have ‘found that perfect middle ground where our differences and similarities conjoin to make the sound that you hear of as Curtains’. We speak to them about their debut eight-track bilingual album ‘Pages of My Memory’, which they released in February this year. Excerpts from an email interview…
1. I've read that it took you three years as a band to figure out what this album should sound like. Is that true? Tell us the process of its making this album.
Honestly, making an album in itself is a laborious task especially when you are executing all the tasks from composing, recording to post-production. We always wanted to create an album, a body of work that represented our sound. It did take us three years to complete because we kept changing the tracks, scraping some and adding new ones. The core idea of our album was to document what we were experiencing in our lives. As time went on, we changed and so did the album. I think at a certain point we both realised that we had come a long way from where we started. But we are really glad that it took us these three years to find our sound and to really bring out the best in each other. We,, as a band, actually grew so much in college where we interacted and collaborated with incredibly talented musicians and artists like Kevin and Gayatri, who are featured on the album as well; Rishita, Divyansh and Ananya, who helped us develop visual aesthetics that complemented our music; Akshat, who created the album art for us.
We composed, recorded, and produced the album in our own small bedroom-studio set-ups. As neither of our homes were soundproof or acoustically treated, we would wait until midnight to start recording. We also used DIY techniques like using blankets and mattresses to absorb unwanted reverberations and block noise.
2. I'd categorise you as a slow rock band. Correct me if I am wrong; and I'd like to know what your musical influences are?
We generally define ourselves as an indie pop/rock duo because it is the most diverse label to give. But in reality, we tend not to stick to a particular genre since our musical influences are so varied and diverse. Among the two of us, we have drawn influences from rock, pop, hip-hop, trip-hop, electronica, metal, and Indian film and indie music as well. Some of our favourite artists are Lucky Ali, Strings, Alt-J, Foster the People, Massive Attack, Brockhampton, King Crimson, and Enter Shikari. We believe that we can make music in different genres while still retaining a specific sonic factor that distinguishes and defines us as a band.
3. You met in the tenth grade, and have been jamming ever since. How similar are your styles?
Dev: We do have some similar influences. Not a single person has a style that is completely in sync with the other and I think that is why it's really important for a duo/band to find that middle ground.
Jamming and writing together has been my favourite part about this whole experience. Our styles, I would say are somewhat similar, and the parts that are not only tend to expand my experience and horizon.
4. How different are each of your creative choices and how does that define the band's music?
Prakhar: Where we really shine is in our ability to accept and incorporate different styles that we introduce to each other. Dev has a really strong background in pop songwriting and it is amazing to see him break out of his comfort zone to complete a song that is more rock/electronica. Both of us throw a lot of new ideas at each other when either of us faces a songwriting block and it genuinely helps in getting out of the slump. This is only made possible because of how different our listening habits and music tastes are. ‘Pages I’ started out as a proper pop-rock song, but over time it developed more into a slow rock ballad because we kept experimenting with its sonic elements and the song structure.
5. Your songs are bilingual. Is that an advantage in terms of expanding your artistic repertoire, as well as your audience?
Starting off, we actually were in a dilemma about whether our songs should be restricted to Hindi or English. We ended up deciding that this was a stupid thing to worry about. Such a barrier would have been disingenuous to our craft. Our songs are bilingual because it is the most natural thing for us as songwriters. We have grown up speaking Hindi and English in our households and daily lives, we think and communicate in two languages, so it was kind of inevitable that it carried over into our songwriting. Bilinguality can definitely be an advantage because some ideas are better expressed in a certain language. Languages are tools for communication; the more tools you have the better.
6. What's next for Curtains?
Our next step is going to be creating a new line-up of artists for the band to tour and perform. We have also started working on our next project, which will probably and hopefully be out in the next few months. Expanding our sonic horizon and skillset remain the most important thing for us. It is important for us to keep evolving and growing not only as songwriters but as producers as well.