Having compelled music fanatics to sway their heads to their music at the Ziro Music Festival last year, Bengaluru-based folk-fusion rock band Gauley Bhai are back making a bang with a collection of soul inspiring music in their 10-track debut masterpiece ‘Joro’, which translates to ‘Fever’ in Nepali. In a conversation with The Indian Music Diaries, Gauley Bhai explain, “The album conceptually and sonically refers to that sense of being – a metaphor for intensity, something that pushes the body and mind beyond a normal state of existence. In that space, could exist hallucinations, imaginations, and memories.”
The folk-rock outfit comprises vocalist-violinist Veecheet Dhakal, his brother Anudwatt on bass, Siddhant Mani Chettri (also part of R&B/soul rock band Mojo Hand) on guitar and drummer Joe Panicker (one half of audio-visual electronic duo Aerate Sound). Formed in 2017, Gauley Bhai resorted to crowd funding through Wishberry to make ‘Joro’ happen.
Having been asked about the driving force behind ‘Joro’, Gauley Bhai exclaim, “It is our debut album, so, for us it is the first chapter of exploring how our sound comes together. The songs explore themes that draw from our personal experience – of identity, memory, longing, and what it means to live in the city and be away from home. The music brings together a lot of our influences – blues, r&b, and folk- but comes together in a contemporary sound that reflects the urban landscape we inhabit.”
‘Joro’ is a stellar piece that amalgamates music with contemporary urban reality inspired by Gauley Bhai’s personal experiences. Oozing with a myriad of sub-plots, with violin as the center piece, their debut album reflects the diversity in their musical backgrounds and sings stories of their homeland far away. On having members belonging to different musical backgrounds, Gauley Bhai have an interesting take. “All of us listen to music from different parts of the world. At the same time, we all resonate with each other and are able to find intersections in aesthetics and ideologies.
Our music is centered around rhythmic and melodic roots that belong to regions from the subcontinent. This becomes like a core over which our musical influences come to play.”
‘Thupari Udi’ brings about a subtle melodic blend of guitar and violin while Gauley bhai reminisce their home back in Kalimpong in a nostalgic tone.
Gauley Bhai exclaim, “As one travels, one is curious and anxious about what lies ahead, and yet held back by memories of home. Like that of a forgotten love. The song is written during the course of the journey, so the person inhabits a midway point, lingering somewhere between home and what lies ahead, between past and future.” As the starting track of the album, this one creates a soundscape to accommodate the sonic brilliance of the other tracks that bleed with the voice of the violin.
“Nepali ko Rela” is a social commentary with the undertones of a grungy guitar and a swaying violin. The song pictures a dysfunctional society with a sense of hopelessness.
“Morau is the last song on the album which was written last year around November after a close friend, Yuvraj Chettri lost his life in a pedestrian road accident near silk board.” Gauley bhai tell, “The setting of the song is at a funeral, a space for collective grieving. Yet, each individual is preoccupied with themselves as dynamics play out between family members, friends, and their relationship with the dead. Back home, there is a ritual where before the body is cremated, the community gets together to watch over and guard the body- usually the night before. So, the song is set at that time.”
“Ghamandi’ is heavy with instrumentation. Its trajectory shoots with an angry overtone and guitar riffs while the violin fades in and out. Maintaining the funky vibes, “Mo Ko Lai Du” lends an energetic current to the album with hip-hop like beats and a section with booming claps.
‘Joro’ is a stellar example of a cultural crossover dipped in the shadows of experimentation. Gauley Bhai feel that experimentation is the key to one’s growth. “At the jam room we do spend a lot of time experimenting and exploring musically. All our ideas are born through jam sessions while we play at our studio in Jeevan Bima Nagar and the ideas go through many versions and forms before they become songs. ‘Gauley Bhai, are brothers from the neighborhood, so it is anyone like you and me, trying to make a life in the city, running errands, anyone you could bump into at a corner. So, the idea in some way, transcends geography and language. Even though we sing in Nepali, we feel everyone who listens can connect to the music”, explain Gauley Bhai.
‘Joro’ creates a sonic experience that unravels the nuances of a contemporary society through orchestration and power-packed lyrics. One of the best albums of the year, this one is here to stay for the long haul.