Interview: A Mutual Question

The 2010’s have seen a massive increase in the number of bands and indie music events in India, and the growth has not only acted a source of entertainment for the listeners but also as a platform for young artists to go beyond the popular streams of music and create music which would otherwise be regarded as something that doesn’t “sell”. This massive expansion has really pleased the older followers and at the same time introduced so many to the contemporary western sound, all the more adding to the development of the scene.

Among the many bands to rise, A Mutual Question is one band which has impressed a lot of people with its wondrous soundscapes and electric live performances. Based in Mumbai, A Mutual Question is a post-rock band, which just released its second EP called ‘Strangeloop’. We got hold of their guitarist, Siddharth, for a little chat a couple of weeks after their performance at Indigo Live Music Bar, Bangalore. He discusses the sound and concept behind band’s new release and the music scene in India. Read on…

I was just going through the reviews of ‘Strangeloop’ and you have made quite the impression, I must say. How do you feel about that?

The aim is always to try and make good music and hope people enjoy listening to it as much as we like making it. So hearing such kind words from everyone in the industry is really satisfying and motivating as well!

‘Strangeloop’ is your second EP and there is a definite evolution that can be observed in the sound and in the melodies, with ‘Strangeloop’ being less ambient and more organic than ‘Eyes Everywhere’. But underneath this evolution, the very feel remains the same. How do you see yourself grow as a band sonically in these two years?

So, ‘Strangeloop’ is essentially our jam-sound, so to speak. The songwriting process in ‘Eyes Everywhere’ was very different from ‘Strangeloop’ and hence the outcome is markedly different. We didn’t set out to make it sound any particular way. All four of us got together, put ideas on the table, built on them and came up with all the music right there. ‘Strangeloop’ represents what we sound like when the band comes together and just collaborates without an agenda. The sonic evolution/growth that you hear is a sheer outcome of that.

An interesting thing I read in an interview is how Strangeloop is about the concept that our lives circle around the same events and one has the same experiences in his/her life multiple times, maybe in a different manner, but the context remains same. Do you believe in that?

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of abstract ideologies like such but maybe in a deja-vu ‘esque way sure. I feel experiences make individuals grow, and if we can take what we learn and apply it to future experiences that are similar, that’s a cyclicality that I’m down with. It’s definitely an interesting conversation I’d enjoy having with someone who believes in something like this.

What are the bands/personalities you look up to that inspire and drive you all to get on there as a band?

We collectively enjoy listening Instrumental bands like Jakob, Explosions (In The Sky), ASIWYFA, Snarky Puppy to progressive bands like Porcupine Tree, Dream Theatre and even djent bands like Skyharbor, Tessaract. There are tons more.

Speaking of the Indian scene, I don’t see a lot of post-rock band from the country. But the bands which are there have a very new and unique sound, which is very different to the music around the world in terms of aesthetics and general themes. How exactly do you see the culture, society and perhaps your immediate environment influencing the music?

India has a ridiculously rich musical heritage so I’m sure that influences all of us in ways we don’t even understand. We’re also a sentimental country, so people can be pretty emotionally charged. Independent musicians in India are also just beginning to taste what it feels like to have their music being heard by so many people, playing live on a regular basis, touring in different parts of the country and sustainably being a musician as a career choice. All that gives rise to a lot of songwriting ideas and musicians have the desire to push their creativity to higher levels because of the acceptance they see. Our peers in India are all working so hard too, putting up great live shows, making such powerful and honest music which promotes a healthy sense of competitiveness that makes sure we’re on top of our game at all times. Anyway, I digress. 😛

Also I’ve noticed that the sound of Southern bands is very different from the bands in Mumbai and Delhi. While the songs Bangalore/Kerala bands have are very intense in nature, the sound of North bands is relaxed and unwinding.

I’d naturally think otherwise actually. My theory is Big cities=stressful life=angrier people=heavier/more intense music haha!! On a serious note though, I’m not sure one can generalize something like this. People make the kind of music they believe in and based on their personal experiences and influences. Maybe the local scene pushes musicians to follow a certain kind of trend or make a certain kind of music to an extent. Maybe even regional acceptance of a certain sub-genre pushes people to align their creativity to be more acceptable to the local mindset. That’s all I can think of to justify bands of a region to sound similar.

Lastly, how are the album promotional gigs coming? I see that there was a little change in the line-up there (Bangalore, November 29). Homi from Family Cheese was playing bass for you guys?

We’re really enjoying playing the album live. The response is great and people are being very kind and appreciative of the music. The line-up change actually happened in June or so. Our bass player, Karan, who’s been in the band since the beginning, had to move to the states for work. So we decided to get Homi on board and we think he’s doing a killer job!

Definitely! He’s a very talented musician. Anyway, thanks for giving us time. It was nice talking to you! Best of luck with the new album! We absolutely loved it. I hope the people do so too!

Thank you! If anyone wants to listen to us, we’re on SoundCloud and Bandcamp. You can download all out music for free. Do consider supporting us as well if you really enjoy the music. You can buy a digital copy of the album from oklisten. We’d be super grateful! Cheers!

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