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A Chat with ‘Begum’

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Sometimes you come across bands that are hard to describe because their sound and vibe is totally unlike anything you have heard before, Delhi based band, Begum is one good example of such a band. Comprising of three extremely talented musicians – Kshitij Dhyani, Karan Singh and Kartik S Pillai, Begum released their debut album, ‘Bagh’ last year to much critical acclaim. We got talking with the members to know more about the sound, the album and their future projects.

Tell us about the band came to be and a little about the members.

Two smugglers Kshitij and Kartik were caught illegally transporting guitar riffs across the border. During interrogation, they conceded their guilt and were summoned to deliver a bribe in the court of the Begum. While presenting their bounty to the all-knowing Begum, they accidentally hit a set of sacred occult notes. One of the Begum’s guards, Karan, ran to stop them and, before anyone could notice, they were transported to an alternate universe. Now the three men have joined forces to jam until they find the correct set of notes to go back home.

What is the story behind the name, ‘Begum’?

The name Begum is a tribute to the Queen Preeto, who reigned during the 5th century of Salil Ankola in Noida Sector 18. During her reign, hipsters, indie musicians and other things you can find at dollar stores were given a special place in her court. Her patronage towards Chinese artefacts and other things without a future beyond six months inspired us to come together and produce music with the shelf life of a Durian.

What is the song writing process like?

Most of our songs are songs that just pass through, we end up playing them subconsciously and quite effortlessly, as if we moved through an effervescent emotion or idea and whatever we were mindlessly able to harness at that time, was instantly converted into music

What do you think is unique about your sound that sets you apart from other bands?

Begum’s music is not created to be unique, or be apart from anyone else. This baggage of superfluous ambitions is alien and unknown in our dimension. Our music only exists because there is absence of silence between the voids of our imaginable peace. Our music is hence only there because of its need to exist; reactionary only to the primal instincts. Our music is also a product of our discourse, both verbal and physical. It is about not making any point. We respond to our environment by not responding. It is the music of in-activism and in that way it is very perverted.

Tell us a little about the songs on your debut album.

Chinbien: Indulgent fantasies and dreams we have and would like to play out.

In The Basement: The trials and tribulations of the youngest of the Fritzl family. It’s about individual perspectives and how one’s reality is a very limited concept.

Raj D Minor: It’s about being introduced into a new environment and of how everything is always one’s own perception.

Lonely Roads: About a path in the forest we chanced upon one day.

Impostor: This song has no meaning. It was quite literally a moment of ‘clairvoyance in tandem. It only signifies a feeling.

As He Was: About reality and counter realities. About living in different lifetimes and dreams.

Waiting: The pineal gland bursts and immediately floods the brain severing connection with the nervous system, leaving it to float around experiencing itself. The transfer of energy and its journey.

Make It Till 4: About the freedom to live and also about not always believing what you once were told.

Marry Me: Decadent pining for a certain future and how change is sometimes for the best.

Arugambay: A prayer for the land of Arugam Bay and its natural state.

How has the response been so far?

We play for one and only Begum Bagh, the all-powerful and benevolent queen and she is our only audience. We are still waiting for her to reciprocate to our devotional songs for her and call us back home to our dimension.

Does playing music professionally pay the bills?

Our music is devotion to the benevolent Begum and hence not being curated for monetary but statutory reasons. We hence don’t look at the act of playing music live as a professional activity, but spreading the message of our queen.

What’s next?

Work on second album has started and we keep performing new songs in our live shows. Few music videos are also on the way. With second album we would be launching band’s official merchandize, which we plan to promote during our much awaited, and over-planned all India tour.

Listen:  begumsmusic.com

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