2.3 Evoke : Let's Talk Art
 
Happy Holidays & Fresh Cucumbers with 
Peter Cat Recording Co.

In partnership with A Humming Heart (AHH)

May 2021

Read our conversation with Peter Cat Recording Co.

and find out why Netflix burnt their carpet

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Listen to Peter Cat Recording Co. on Spotify

Illustration by Jishnnu B

On May 7, Peter Cat Recording Co. (PCRC) announced that they were releasing their previously released and then removed albums Sinema and Wall of Want, along with 2020 release of rejected material Happy Holidays, for sale for just one week. They vowed to donate all the revenue generated from sales of these albums to Hemkunt Foundation, a New Delhi-based charitable organisation working towards COVID relief in India. A few days later, their floating heads announced via this reel that they had managed to raise INR 350,000 or $4500. That’s a really impressive number, especially for an Indian independent act functioning in the digital age of 2021. We decided to speak to the band and find out what they have been up to, two years after the release of their phenomenal album Bismillah.

peter cat recording co_mysticeti mag.JPG

Over the last half a decade, Peter Cat Recording Co. have really come into their own. Reading some early interviews gives a sense that this is a band that is extremely confident of the kind of music they are putting out into the world, almost to a fault. At the same time, they also appear to have been a bit lost on what to do with it, or where to take it. It seems like what really worked for them, and possibly also gave them the top Indian indie band status which they now enjoy, was them signing with French label Panache. After the deal, the band removed their previously released music from the face of the internet and released Portrait of a Time: 2010 to 2016, a collection of their best tunes until then, re-recorded and remastered (the previous releases had been recorded in their living room, which Suryakant, the frontman, still prefers). By 2018-19, they were touring Europe and, from the looks of it, finally playing to a welcoming crowd.

In the past, the band has been called an anomaly in the Indian independent music scene. The band members themselves don’t feel like they fit in. However, through years’ worth of hard work, experimentation, intense touring, and label support, the band has definitely found its sound (for the moment; their discography is constantly evolving) and its fans.

Now, to define this uniquely PCRC sound is a daunting task, one that the band also does not take up willingly. It is distinguished in such a way that it has become its own brand. Like if you heard it at a restaurant, you would know it’s PCRC instantly.

Each PCRC member brings a distinctive flavour to the band. It’s the perfect mix of personalities and set of influences, all of which becomes fairly apparent in the conversation below. Meet Suryakant Sawhney (vocals and guitar), Karan Singh (drums), Dhruv Bhola (bass and samples), Rohit Gupta (keys and trumpet) and Kartik Sundareshan Pillai (keyboards, guitar, electronics and trumpet).

AHH:

All of you have projects you are working on alongside PCRC. Are they meant to serve as different outlets of expression?

KARTIK :

Yes, I have multiple projects that I'm working on right now. One of them is for me to be able to experience electronic music the way I want; Jamblu, which I made in 2008, where I mess with frequencies. One is a result of whatever songs have been rejected by my bandmates, called Service Animal. I like those songs, but the others don't connect with them. PCRC is mostly reactionary based on jams with my bruvs. Then there is Begum, an automatic writing project, or unconscious stream of consciousness. You basically go into a trance and write whatever comes.

KARAN :

When Suryakant doesn't answer his phone, I head to Kartik’s and we jam. That's how Kartik and I started Begum.

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Listen to Begum

SURYAKANT:

Well, I do Lifafa as an outlet for Hindi music I wanted to write as well as explore electronic music. The other thing I manage is a film production house with my wife called Miya Biwi. Everything is done to pay bills and keep life interesting. PCRC happens when we all get into the tub together.

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Listen to Lifafa

AHH:

How do you manage your time between projects?

KARTIK :

I don't manage my time. I do whatever I feel like I need to do at that time.

SURYAKANT:

Time management is not our strong suit.

KARAN :

I make pie charts, and Venn diagrams.

They help me manage time.

AHH:

The band announced on May 7 that you were selling their albums to raise funds for COVID relief. How have you been holding up in these challenging times? Have you been exhausted by the chaos or has this given you inspiration to make music, or generally to do something creative?

SURYAKANT:

The news is exhausting, yes, but it would be wildly unforgivable for us to ignore it altogether. I don’t know if this exhaustion drove creativity, but it certainly made us try and contribute to fix the mess we’re in. Living drives art, so one must immerse themselves in reality and then step out to take a photograph.

AHH:

Speaking of creating art, is there a new album in the making? If yes, what can you tell us about the subjects you will be touching upon and the sound that it is shaping up to be in?

DHRUV:

We're working on a few songs and trying to see how it can come together as an album.

ROHIT :

 Yes, we're working on a new album. We don't have enough synths though, but it's hopefully going to sound like fresh cucumbers.

SURYAKANT:

Early stages

DHRUV:

There isn't an overarching theme yet, but as we put more time into the songs I'm sure it'll reveal itself. Or not. We'll make something up. You'll never know.

AHH:

It has been two years since Bismillah was released. Looking back, are you content with how the album was received, how it performed in terms of appreciation from fans and whether that translated into numbers?

KARAN :

 I think more people should stream and buy our music. Our music only has 10 million streams. People aren't doing enough.

SURYAKANT:

 It’s a step forward, and it certainly laid the foundation for us to do bigger things.

AHH:

Last year, the band got its own Netflix feature. That must have been a milestone moment. What was the experience of shooting the episode like? What details can you give about what went into getting the feature and making the episode?

ROHIT :

Where is my iPhone?

KARTIK :

They burnt my carpet!

SURYAKANT:

Well, that feature was shot more than 3 years ago, so it’s honestly something long gone.

AHH:

In addition to the music itself, the band and the label seem to have a very good hold on the marketing side of things as well.

DHRUV:

I'm not sure what you're talking about, as a band, we're the worst bunch of marketeers. Really, the worst.

AHH:

Do you have a clear sense of what a PCRC fan wants and expects from the band? How do you tackle these expectations? Does that ever come in the way of free creative expression?

DHRUV:

We do have an idea of what we want to give to our fans and how we can keep them interested. We keep challenging our understanding of what music is and how we can present it, but mostly we take help for this marketing stuff. It's great that we seem sorted. Marketing achievement unlocked!

SURYAKANT:

We’re just trying to keep it real yo.

AHH:

 How has the visual aesthetic (music videos, album artworks,
on-stage outfits) of the band developed over the years?

DHRUV:

Karan and Suryakant lead this aspect of the band most of the time. We were all involved in the last couple of music videos in terms of art direction. Kartik always has vivid and extravagant imagery in his head and that's what we go with sometimes.

KARTIK :

I'm colour blind. I'm like a dog, I look at the screen and pretend to understand what's going on.

SURYAKANT:

I’m in charge of rejecting other people’s ideas but it’s a constantly evolving thing, with one step in the past and one in the future.

AHH:

Lastly, what is a dream location to play live at for the band when things open up?

KARTIK :

International Space Station, Obama's birthday party, Madison Triangle Garden.

KARAN :

Next kumbh Mela

ROHIT :

Shahrukh Khan's moon property.

DHRUV:

Anywhere between here and south of here.

SURYAKANT:

Wuhan

This interview was conducted in May 2021.

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the artists.

They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Mysticeti or its members. 

About Mysticeti’s friends:

Peter Cat Recording Co. (PCRC) is a band based in Goa, who create and record a variety of different music including Gypsy Jazz, Ballroom, Synth Pop, Psychedelic Rock and everything in between and beyond.

 

A Humming Heart (AHH) is an Indian music publication which talks about both film and non-film music, with a heavy focus on the independent music industry. Since their inception in 2017, they have covered a wide range of music from different parts of India and hope to expand their coverage without any biases or boundaries. 

Visit AHH

Jishnnu B creates visualization, illustrations and immersive narratives

 

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