Kevin Shaji aka Pina Colada Blues has made quite a name for himself in Kerala’s music circuit. Kevin is an indie music producer hailing from Kochi, Kerala. The name Pina Colada Blues is a representation of the cocktail like genres used in his music . ‘Once Upon A Blue Moon’ is his debut EP, featuring eight tracks in Malayalam and one track in Tamil. Kevin has collaborated with many artists on this project including hip-hop artists Blesslee, MC Monk and vocalists Mridul Anil and Jahnavi Subhash. Kevin tells us the philosophy behind his music, “I always try to keep the lyrics for every song I make as poetic as possible instead of going for commercial lyrics.”
Once Upon A Blue Moon is an indie electronic pop EP consisting of a wide range of genres such as lo-fi, pop, trap, Indian fusion and many more. The songs in the EP begin from the inception of a relationship, its culmination and finally the end. The last two tracks reflect how one can finally move on from the past. You don’t have to be fluent in Malayalam or Tamil to appreciate this EP. In fact, it’s perfect to listen to while doing your daily household chores or studies. You can almost feel all of the emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, loss, and that of moving on while listening to this EP. It is moody, grim, layered, emotional and at the same time is also ecstatic, hopeful and cheerful about the future.
The first track, ‘Mazhayil’, begins from a moody and sombre note and later transitions into a lo-fi, chill-pop kind of a sound on which the entire track is based. This track is about how the main character in the relationship is reminiscing about his past. Interestingly, Mazhayil means ‘In the Rain’, hence the song is about happy memories which are depicted by happy rain showers in the song. This track features Malayalam rappers and lyricists, such as Blesslee, MC Monk and Abhiram Jithendra.
The second track ‘One Sided Kadhal’ starts off with soothing and soul-touching R&B Tamil vocals sung by Mk Muziq. The entire track comprises of multiple influences such as those of rap, trap and dubstep. This track also gives off trippy vibes, even though it is about ‘One Sided Kadhal (Love)’. This is the only track which is composed and sung in Tamil language, and the almost spitting-fire rap verse is contributed by Sai Zakaz. The outro interestingly, consist of a folk beat, and is open to interpretation whether it is a dance beat of happiness or beat for the death dance ritual people perform in Tamil Nadu.
The third track ‘Omal Poove’ feat. Jahnavi Subhash is a peppy, fun track with a lot of western pop influences. The song is about the happy phase in a relationship when it’s all smiles and sunshine. It’s also serves as a reminder to enjoy the little things in life. The fourth track ‘Akalukayo’ featuring Mridul Anil talks about the downfall of the relationship. The word ‘Akalukayo’ means drifting away. The whole tone and tenor of the song is sombre and mellow, and the chorus beat is a saxophone-based tune which is surprisingly cheerful. The outro of the song has an amalgamation of a Tabla beat and western strings cocktail, which is quite refreshing and unique.
The fifth track ‘Kamuki’ featuring Rakz Radiant and Nandhagopan V, has a thumping bass line, with beatboxing and ethnic sounds. The chorus of the track seems to be right-out-of-an EDM gig, with chill, ambient and groovy sounds all intermixing together and creating a beautiful melody. Kamuki means a female lover, and the song is about how our protagonist is remembering his relationship and all the issues that came with it.
‘Ee Vazhiye’ featuring XACHIN and Anohnymouss is a pop R&B track, which is slow paced and has slightly darker undertones. Kevin tells us that the song is written in a way to keep the real theme of the song hidden to an extent. The track could either be about the loss due to a breakup in our protagonist’s relationship, or the loss that comes with the death of someone close, Kevin has left that up to the listeners to decide. The track is written by Mary Liya and the guitar work for the track was done by Durwin D’souza, who is also the guitarist of the Madras Mail band and Blank Planet Band.
‘Thenale’ featuring Nikita Uday & Farish Reheman is one of Kevin’s first tracks and was released in the year 2020. Thenale means ‘soft breeze’ and the track is indeed about the love of a woman towards the breeze. Kevin says the meaning of the track is personification of long-lost love, loving oneself and finally moving on. The bridge section of this track has a progressive electric guitar tune followed by flute music. This track is gentle and relaxing, with simple beats from Indian classical music and subtle lo-fi tunes.
The last but not the least ‘Pularikal’ ft. Aromal Chekaver is a Carnatic lo-fi track with saxophone beats, and vocal harmonization. The song is based on the Aarabhi Raaga, which is a Carnatic scale that gives the song hope and energy. ‘Pularikal’ means a new hope and the lyrics signify that a new dawn is coming and we must not lose hope.
This was actually my first time reviewing an EP in Malayalam and Tamil, and I must say, it was a different yet an unforgettable experience. The fact that a variety of artists from Kerala ranging from Kevin Shaji, MC Monk, Blesslee, Durwin D’souza, Mridul Anil and many more have collaborated for this EP, is an amazing feat in itself. Kevin Shaji mentions that he actually got in touch with all the artists via social media platforms for this EP. This EP has clearly set the bar for Indian indie music high, with genre-bending music and made me realise once again that music indeed has no language or boundaries. The EP has a song for almost every mood, and a song in store for everyone. Listen to this EP, for a wholistic and mind-blowing musical ride.