The Mumbai duo talk to us about their two new releases, ‘Twice Over’ and ‘I Got You’
After we spoke to Mumbai-based musician brothers, vocalist-guitarist Sarthak Karkare and drummer Shashwat Karkare, when they launched their new project St. Cyril with the debut single “Table For Two” earlier this year, the pair have been relentless with releases. St. Cyril went on to drop two more singles – “Trouble” and “Big Bad Wolf” – and are now out with a double-header once more. In this interview with Rolling Stone India, the band talks to us about the new tracks, “Twice Over” and “I Got You,” working with visual artist Mehek Malhotra, going live and more.
What’s been happening in the St. Cyril camp since “Table For Two” was released?
Shashwat: We’ve actually just been busy writing, and writing, and writing some more. Our entire goal with this project was to write and release regularly. We already have the next few songs in place; we’re now focusing on taking the project live.
Sarthak: A whole lot of work has gone into setting up the sound of this project and steering it into a domain of rock music that is instantly identifiable, but most significantly, easy to listen to. We come from a school of thought that prioritizes the quality of the music over how well one particular song does on social media. With that in mind, we’ve really been focusing on building a solid oeuvre. We are now at a stage where we want to make the music reach more people.
What can you tell us about the two new songs?
Shashwat: The two new songs follow a similar sonic thread. They have a similar starting point, in that we started with the melody on both songs and we followed that thread through. All the production and writing was focused on the melody and the rhythm that came with it. Whoever has heard the tracks talks about a vintage and ’60s nostalgia they feel, but that was not the intention. Sure, The Beatles and Velvet Revolver were our references. But we did not set out to write a “vintage track”.
Sarthak: Both songs are part of one larger theme centered around the evolution of love, from infatuation to a feeling grounded in the real world and its challenges. We wanted to retain the innocence and thrill that early love brings with it, yet steer away from the gravity of cynicism as it develops.
What was the recording and production process like?
Shashwat: Like with all our music, the recording process was very straightforward and simple. We’ve always followed a ‘less is more’ policy on this project. We recorded all the instruments from home. This is the first time we worked with Zain Calcuttawala on mixing and mastering the tracks. We felt he was the perfect choice and he really perfected the sound we were going for.
Sarthak: I am pretty much a home body, so we try and record as much as we can from our home studio. We’ve taken our time to figure out the sounds that work for us, borrowed instruments/mics when we’ve fallen short, etc, but we’ve only ever wanted to have fun and re-create some of the magic of the rock music we heard through our schooling years. Both of us are really very grateful to Zain for grasping that tonal thread early on and delivering accordingly.
Tell us about the artwork and working with visual artist Mehek Malhotra.
Shashwat: Mehek was a very obvious choice for us. We had been following her work for a while, trying to find the right project to work on with her. Her color palette, style and keen understanding of our goal helped us achieve it. She also has prior experience working with musicians, so she completely understood what we wanted and how we wanted to set up the visual language and story of these two songs.
Sarthak: Working with Mehek was refreshing and breezy. It’s really nice to see dedicated creative professionals out there who are invested in the work of their clients. That, together with her exceptional talent, really made our interactions enjoyable and uplifting.
When we explained the theme of the songs, Mehek was very drawn to the simplicity of the kind of love we were trying to depict – something very primal and irresistible, but equally dynamic. So, the artwork for “Twice Over” follows a thread as a means of communication between two people and the motif develops into communication over a telephone call in the artwork of “I Got You.” They are, of course, both symbols of a developing romance, but still not complicated by modern troubles. You’ll never see a smartphone or a screen in there.
Shashwat: We are taking the project live! We wanted to take our time with writing enough music to make a set that consists entirely of original songs. When someone comes to watch a St. Cyril performance, that is all they should get. We will be announcing shows very soon, so follow our socials for all updates.
Sarthak: We will be performing live and hoping to reach as many more people as we can with our brand of music. There really isn’t a whole lot of rock music out there and if there is, it’s certainly not as visible as it used to be. There are other plans in motion but we will share the outcomes when we have something concrete.