Parekh & Singh on their long-awaited album ‘Science City’, adopting an 'audience first' approach at gigs
In the works for nearly five years, Science City comes after the duo’s 2016 international breakout album Ocean. Even for those who loved the saccharine nature of Ocean and its occasionally psychedelic, quirky detours (‘Hill’), there’s varied moods on Science City.
In the works for nearly five years, Science City comes after the duo’s 2016 international breakout album Ocean
Parekh and Singh are keen now more than ever on putting together an experience rather than just a performance
Even for those who loved the saccharine nature of Ocean and its occasionally psychedelic, quirky detours (Hill), there are varied moods on Science City
For anyone who has been to Science City in Kolkata, perhaps one of the unmissable sights is that of the dinosaur replicas. It belonged to the childhood memory of both Nischay Parekh and Jivraj Singh, the dream pop duo who have named their new album after the science centre.
“I think everyone who went to school in Kolkata has to go to Science City at some point, it’s a compulsory school trip,” Singh says.
It’s a bizarre experience, he says, because although it’s called Science City, his strongest memory of the place is seeing a painting of dinosaurs on a wall somewhere, a building with human beings inside it and a television receiver dish on top of this building. “I remember going back to school and drawing that.”
In the works for nearly five years, Science City comes after the duo’s 2016 international breakout album Ocean, released by United Kingdom’s Peacefrog Records. While Ocean was technically a rebranded presentation of the 2013 record (which was released simply as Nischay Parekh), Science City is all new material. Of course, it’s music that people would have heard at the duo’s gigs over the last four years, but there are newer additions, including songs like ‘Crystalline’, which was written a couple of years ago.
In the time that they were still promoting Ocean with videos for songs like ‘I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll’, ‘Ghost’ and ‘Philosophize’, Parekh and Singh were also working on the “visual language and underlying text” of Science City. Singh explains, “We think a lot in terms of text; mood boards and things that inspire photos and videos. There’s a whole world that got built around the music, which has been interesting. It’s good because it meant that we hadn’t lost our minds waiting to release this music. We’ve been quite occupied by all this other stuff, which is quite enjoyable for us.”
In November 2018, they released one of their most vulnerable yet philosophical songs to date, ‘Summer Skin’. Featuring references to The Beatles and Woody Allen, Parekh bids farewell to a loved one in the song. Beyond the lovey-dovey ditties that have given them millions of views, there is a sense of comfort in Parekh’s voice that is probably an important draw for listeners, and for the duo as well. Singh says “music is a major safe space that we both go to.”
Parekh too feels more comfortable in his songwriting over the years. He says that with more material already planned out, there is excitement as well as ‘scaredness’ in their evolution. “Scary because I always want to grow and change, drastically and often, exciting because it’s comforting to be comfortable.”
Even for those who loved the saccharine nature of Ocean and its occasionally psychedelic, quirky detours (‘Hill’), there are varied moods on Science City. While ‘Summer Skin’ is the lengthiest song, tracks like ‘One Hundred Shadows’ and ‘Evening Sun’ are a tad more melancholic. ‘Hello’ and ‘Surgeon’ have a signature blip-heavy pop drive to it. One of Parekh’s earliest compositions, ‘Monkey’, touching on companionship, finally gets a formal release.
With an album promo tour set for Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru and UK/Europe later in the summer, Parekh and Singh are keen now more than ever on putting together an experience rather than just a performance.
When asked about why the duo haven’t played for nearly a year, Singh says that the nature of many gigs they had been offered wasn’t “audience first.” He adds, “In the past, we may have done it because most people, including us, think that doing a lot of shows is important, because there’s income and you will be visible etc. But we redirected our approach a little bit. So it’s audiences’ experience first, and our own experience has to be really good.”
While specifics are yet to be revealed about what their India tour shows will involve, we do know that Parekh and Singh will now perform as a band, adding two prolific musicians — Rohan Rajadhyaksha (from alt-rockers Spud In The Box) on keys and synth and Pedro Zappa on bass. Parekh adds, “We have gotten over the ‘duo that can sound like a band’ ideal that governed the start of our careers. I think we’ve both come to realise that allowing more people into our music is an entirely beneficial thing. It also takes the pressure off of us to do so much production work and just focus on enjoying our performances.”
More details on Parekh and Singh’s Science City tour here.
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