What about climbing the tree,
What about seeing the world in your dreams,
What about The Monkey in Me…
Nischay Parekh, the lead vocalist and guitarist of city-based band The Monkey in Me, has struck the right chords. The band, which also has Rohit Kapoor on bass and backing vocals and Shoumik Biswas on drums and percussion, is fairly new but it already has a strong presence on SoundCloud, an online audio distribution platform. All of 19, Nischay is studying at the Berklee College of Music, Boston. t2 caught up with the Rising Rocker to find out what makes him tick.
How did music happen?
When I was really small, my mother took me to the Calcutta School of Music for classical guitar lessons. I absolutely hated it. In fact I hated music, couldn’t understand it all. I struggled with my lessons for about half-a-year, then quit. Sometime in 2007, she introduced me to Taj Junaid, a guitarist and teacher in the city, who kindled an interest in me for the guitar and introduced me to music that I actually liked and could relate to....
When did you think of taking up music professionally?
When I was in Class X (at La Martiniere for Boys), I realised how much I enjoyed making music. This was also the time I came across the Berklee College of Music. I thought, here is a school where students take music seriously and pursue it with the same level of professionalism, hard work and discipline as any other field. That’s when I saw music as a viable career.
The Monkey in Me, was it a school band?
No. Rohit, Shoumik and I are close friends. We would play lots of computer games together so one day we thought why not play music too. So we got together, made some music and it worked. All of us are in different cities now, Shoumik is studying design at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, while Rohit is in St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta. The next step for us is to record the seven-eight numbers we have composed.
Why the name Monkey in Me?
We had to send in a name for the audition tape for the Kolkata Autumn Music Festival at the American Center in 2010. We just decided to call ourselves The Monkey in Me. There was no particular reason, just a weird personal fascination with monkeys. At the festival, we performed one of our first originals, Philosophise. It turned out to be the winning number.
What kind of music do you make?
We want to write good pop songs, which will also have influence of jazz, R&B, hip-hop....
How has Berklee contributed to your learning?
It’s like a splash of cold water that leaves you refreshed. There are students younger than me who have already toured the world and played with music legends. So, when everyone around is so talented and gifted, you can’t help but be inspired. I have learnt that music is first a discipline, which one needs to study, practise and cultivate.
How was it working with Neel Adhikari and the Lightbulbs?
With Neel and the Lightbulbs, it’s always a nice experience — great hangout zone and brilliant discussions.... I enjoyed playing in Calcutta. The music scenario here is also changing. It’s no longer just Pink Floyd or Metallica, but originals are also being appreciated and it is quite encouraging.
Have you worked with any other band?
I have a band in Berklee with my fellow students. It’s called Orange, The Panda. It’s very different from The Monkey in Me.
The next step?
Since I am studying contemporary writing and production, I would like to write my own music and, of course, for others too. I am also fascinated by the sound engineering aspect of the music industry.
Favourite singer: Louis Armstrong
Favourite band: Broken Social Scene, a Canadian indie rock band
Favourite song: Blackbird by The Beatles, So Sorry by Feist, and Rehna Tu by A.R. Rahman
Inspirations: Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, The Beatles... Skinny Alley and Neel Adhikari closer home
Star motto: Be honest to yourself in all aspect, especially work
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