In Conversation With Indie-Rock Act Neon Crayon, A Pan-Indian Affair
“We never set out to be ‘musicians’; we were just kids making music. But now we are here, and we hope to be able to inspire people to start making music just as we were inspired. We hope the cycle continues.”, says Lagachu, the vocalist of Neon Crayon.
Neon Crayon is a five piece indie rock act, with members hailing from Andaman and Nicobar Islands to Kashmir, making it a “Pan-Indian affair” . The band came together while the members were pursuing higher studies in Pune. Neon Crayon self released their debut EP ,”In search of Colour” back in 2018, which was a complete DIY effort. It was composed, recorded and produced in their bedrooms. We spoke to the band about their latest single, “Giving Up Our Youth” off of their upcoming album “Trapped In The 21st Century”, about their biggest set back during this pandemic, what role the pan-Indian aspect of the band plays in their music and much more. Read the interview to find more.
1. How was ‘Neon Crayon’ conceived? What’s the significance of the name?
My bandmates and I (Lagachu) have always been in bands since school and we’ve always loved music. Vyshnav and I met in college and we started getting high and recording ourselves on GarageBand, cause I had bought a new laptop. We would be so emotionally moved by some of the songs that we heard that we had to play them; there was no other option. Eventually, the earphone mic was replaced by a regular mic, we bought an audio interface, downloaded the pirated Logic software, and started writing original music. Every day the arrangements became a little better, our intuition got sharper, and each song started sounding better than its predecessor. We never set out to be ‘musicians’; we were just kids making music. But now we are here, and we hope to be able to inspire people to start making music just as we were inspired. We hope the cycle continues. As far as the name goes, it just sounds nice. I don’t wanna be pretentious and give undue interpretations. It sounds nice, and that’s it.
2. How important is the ‘Pan-India’ aspect of your band when it comes to making music? Or does it have no role to play in your music aspect at all?
Vyshnav, the vocalist of the band says, “We take great pride that this is a very diverse band. Our current line-up has members from Andaman, Kashmir, Bangalore, Lagachu is from Assam and I am from Kerala. This is not by design though. We have a diverse set of friends, and this is just a by-product. Musically we are inspired by the global indie scene. One of the benefits of living in this age of connectivity and the internet is that we have unprecedented access to global music. Earlier people were reliant on what records the store would have, and thus their individuality on musical taste was seriously curtailed. Now you can be very specific and find your niche. And this doesn’t have to be geographically limiting. So even though we come from different places, we do share a similar subset of musical taste. So the Pan-Indian aspect has no effect as we already share a similar musical taste.”
3. What is your music making and song writing process?
Vyshnav and I (Lagachu) get in a room and start bouncing around ideas, playing riffs and trying different sounds until we find something that we really like. Then we build on and around that idea and see where it can go. Sometimes the song doesn’t turn out well, and we discard it, sometimes it completely changes, and other parts replace the original part that we started with. We just loosen ourselves and drift downstream, letting the flow guide us, and once we find a good spot, we anchor ourselves.
Vyshnav adds, “Once we are done with a demo, we show it to the band, we play it live, and they all give inputs, make improvements and we finally have a song that no one’s heard before.”
4. Since you have members from 5 very different regions coming together to make music, have you explored the option of being a multi-lingual band?
I (Lagachu) am very particular with the lyrics of our songs. Its poetry, so I want it to be able to stand on its own even when you read it out of a piece of paper without any music. I don’t want to sing about ass, money, machismo. A lot of songs straight up promote misogyny and homophobia. People may listen to it now, but these works of art will not stand the test of time. The same goes for songs that have little to no lyrical material, which will just stretch on notes and sing single words like ‘Kyon’, ‘Aa ja’, ‘Kaun’. So until I am comfortable to write poetry in other languages, I don’t see it happening. But who can predict the future? Maybe poverty will make us sellout. Haha!
5. Tell us a bit about your latest single, “Giving Up Our Youth”
Lagachu goes onto say “Today in our day and age, we find that an increasing number of young men and women are becoming disillusioned with our jobs. We work dead-end jobs, for giant corporations, which don’t provide us with any sense of joy. In contrast, most work environments are toxic, and most bosses are just plain bullies. So why do we have to go through 13 + 3/4/5 years of education just to land a dayshift? In this age of consumer capitalism we need more money than ever before. For example, I might be working in a Reliance subsidiary like Saavn and buy my groceries from Reliance fresh, my shoes from Reliance footprint, my phone from Reliance Digital, my phone plan from Reliance Jio, household items from Reliance Mart and the list goes on. In effect, I end up giving whatever I earn from Reliance, back to Reliance. It’s almost as if we are all slaves to these corporations and whatever we earn, we gotta give back to our masters in exchange for goods, over which they hold a monopoly. We end up slogging right from our birth till our retirement, just to be a decorated slave. We spend our youth serving our indentured labour, and by the time our contract is over, we are just a breath away from our death. “
6. What has been the biggest set back for the band because of the current pandemic?
Vyshnav elaborates “So this is our graduation year. Lagachu and I have just finished our Masters, and we thought 2020 was the perfect time to swing our bats and grab the momentum of our music releases. But who can predict the future? We were in talks with a number of venues about performances, and we were just about to take our new demos to the studio. In fact, we were scheduled to record drums on Monday, but just a day before that, on Sunday, we were told to vacate the college campus and head home. Now we are just utilising this time as a creative period, to record new ideas and elevate our song arsenal. Hopefully, when we get back, we can translate this surreal period to hours and hours of recordings.”
7. Tell us about your upcoming album, “Trapped in the 21st Century”. When can we expect it to be released?
Being ‘Trapped in the 21st Century’ is a bizarre feeling. No matter how much we try, the probability of the remnants of our existence being visible in the 22nd Century is very low. So from the point of view of the 22nd Century, did we even exist? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? Does the moon exist when nobody is looking at it? Our only weapon is our work of art, and hopefully, we can create meaningful work so that there is proof of our existence in the 22nd Century, and we prolong our existence. ‘Trapped in the 21st Century’ was supposed to release in late 2020 but we have decided that we would release it in 2021 as we still have some work to do on some of the songs. However, we are now working on an untitled collaborative project where we are collaborating with indie artists from all across India, and we are planning to release its first single in a few months. We have some interesting new ideas and its gonna be filled with amazing artists and collaborators, so if you are reading this, stay tuned! (Lagachu)
8. One Indian independent artist that you would want to collaborate with?
It is impossible to pick only one. The scene is so nascent, and there are so many artists that we want to collaborate with. That Boy Roby, Lo! Peninsula, Celestial Teapot, Mali, Fox in the Garden, Peter Cat Recording Co. and sooooo many more. (Vyshnav)