We spoke to the Mumbai based duo Water & Rum, who came together after Tanya Shah and Ramya Pothuri met each other at a music school. They began writing music together and released two singles the following year. The duo is inspired by folk and dream pop, which is reflected in their songs. The amalgamation of guitar arpeggios and harmonies makes their music elegant. They spoke to us about their love for RnB Music, their goof-up at NH7 Weekender and how they pulled off the set. Read the entire interview to find out more.
1. What’s your story? How did the duo come together?
The both of us were pursuing different courses at the True School of Music in Mumbai when we met in 2015. I think our first ever interaction was me (Tanya) complimenting Ramya on her shoes and immediately becoming very awkward. From there we realised we had a lot of similarities not only in terms of interests but also in terms of our music choices. We’d hangout, in and outside school, singing and drinking and just becoming friends. We wrote our first song a day before an open mic because we just wanted to be a part of it. That’s kind of how we realised we enjoyed writing together and working with each other. We didn’t officially form a year or so until we left school but the fact that we were friends first helped us keep in touch and therefore formally become Water & Rum.
2. Which bands and artists were your first love and who’s your biggest influence?
We realised we were into similar music because of this Paper Kites song called “Bloom”. We were super obsessed with Daniel Caesar and The Marias. We both love RnB and dream pop/ lo-fi music and spend a lot of time listening to music together so we constantly have similar songs on loop most of the time.
In terms of influence, production wise it would probably be Kings of Convenience and Billie Marten. With songwriting it’s whoever we’re listening to at the time and an amalgamation of the artists we’ve been obsessed with in the past and during.
3. Tell us about your music and how your journey has been as a duo over the last few years?
Our music was initially very indie-folk and minimal with an acoustic guitar and harmonies. We love the simplicity of it but since we put out our first two singles in 2018 we’ve written more music that asks for production with some percussion and groove. So as a duo we’re still settling into our sound and understanding what we like and don’t.
4. What is your music making and recording process like?
Usually it starts with Ramya making a guitar part and me (Tanya) usually singing over it. We’ll sit with our phone recorder and just sing any melodies or lyrics that come to us upon hearing the guitar progression. We’ll go through multiple rounds of it until we feel like we have something we like. We’ll go through each of them and bring together parts we like until we have a structure. Lyrics come next and we’ll either pick what we originally sang or re-visit them together. Once the song is in place we like to make demos on our laptop and try different things on it. Once the demo is ready and we’re satisfied with it is when we’ll usually go into the studio and record it.
5. How was your experience playing NH7 Weekender last year? Any special memory from the set?
NH7 was a great experience. We were both going through things in our personal lives before the festival and it was great to just take a break and spend time watching and meeting different artists for 3 days. It was also the first time we were playing a band set so NH7 was quite special for us in terms of expanding our sound and truly experimenting with it’s potential. We did however mess up on the duration of our set and completed it before it was supposed to end. As a last minute ditch effort, we performed a song that we hadn’t touched in months and went all acoustic. We managed to pull it off and it went way better than we thought it would. We’re not proud of it and it was a stupid mistake but we can only be careful now onwards. TIME YOUR SETS KIDS AND DON’T BE LIKE US.
6. You have new single, “Sticky” dropping next month. Tell us a bit about.
Sticky is our attempt at optimism and takes a peek into someone’s mind when it’s in a state of infatuation. It follows the thought process that ensues when we fantasise about life with someone in it, even if we may never see the said person again. Having a crush in real life is absolute hell, especially with the uncertainty of it all. But with Sticky we’ve created this ideal world where we act like we wished we’d act when we’re into someone.
7. What’s your favourite part of being in this duo?
Work never feels like work with each other. We’re both super close friends and our sessions/meetings are always a long day of chilling with each other, eating lots of food & chai, complaining about life and sharing music amongst the work itself. We enjoy writing together a lot, sometimes to the point where we have to pre-decide to just relax and not indulge in work to keep a balance. So that, getting to just chill with each other is probably our favourite part.
8. Should we be expecting a full length album sometime soon? Are there any such plans?
We’re still young as a duo and we’re in the process of figuring out our sound and enjoying experimenting with a fuller sound/production. We do have plans of putting out an EP soon but in terms of an album we don’t think we’re there yet.
9. One independent artist that you would love to collaborate with?
PETER CAT RECORDING CO. for sure probably. Their sound is super different from ours but it’s so fucking good. They’re so in tune as a band and it’s amazing to watch them and listen to them.
The duo’s third single “Sticky” will be releasing on 1st May along with a music video.