KOCHI: My fondest memory of When Chai Met Toast’s (WCMT) music is listening to ‘Firefly’ while driving through the mountain roads to catch a sunset in North Kerala. That wind in your hair, heart up your sleeve happiness in their music is one reason to fall in love with this under-30 band. With Achyuth Jaigopal on guitar and banjo, Palee Francis on keyboard, Pai Sailesh on drums and Ashwin Gopakumar on vocals, they sing in Tamil, Hindi and English, over a fresh ensemble of folktronica and eclectic bass lines.
Four years and two albums down, the band recently released ‘Nee Aara’, their first Malayalam single. The song comes as a tribute to the state and its people as the memory of devastating floods turn a year old. “Our gigs were getting cancelled, and we got stranded due to airport closure. Sure it was inconvenient, but when we saw what the state was going through, we instinctively joined the relief operations,” says the band’s frontman and partner Ashwin, recollecting his own memories of the bleak days.
Straight to the heart
Like any homegrown band, making a track in Malayalam has been in the pipeline for WCMT too. Singing in your mother tongue brings out ‘mobile expressions’, making the writing process an arduous task, says Ashwin. “I was raised on old Malayalam songs, and singing in the language would never be something new to me.
But putting these emotions to the right words is the most important thing. And we had the best help there,” he adds. Lyricist Engandiyoor Chandrasekharan’s earnest words do weigh in with Ashwin’s energetic singing to give ‘Nee Aara’ the thrust of an anthem that inspires people to rebuild across differences.
‘Nee Aara’ is more on the ‘fight and believe’ end of WCMT’s songs as compared to
‘Beautiful World’ or ‘Joy of little things’. But despite the raging bass lines, the band keeps its love for instruments alive in this track too. Achyuth’s solo, a beautiful piece on a 10-string banjo is a highlight.
We listen to a lot of genres, and our music comes from those contrasting places too,” says Ashwin, dding that the upcoming album will have more of such instruments and sounds. “If you listen closely, the solo starts as chaos, and it converges to a single spot at the end. This is the simple message of the song -- to keep going till things start to make sense,” concludes the 29-year-old vocalist.