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Interviews |  07 Dec 2016 16:44 |  By Suhas Thobbi and Mallika Deb

What is the Fuzz all about?

MUMBAI: When the Delhi-based duo FuzzCulture performs at the upcoming New Wave Asia Festival at home turf, it’d officially become its third appearance at the DIY event (3 out of 3). However, 2016 would be remembered for reasons dominated by two important phases for an act that features Srijan Mahajan and Arsh Sharma - a Malaysian tour and the launch of a new EP ‘Twins’.

A quick listen to FuzzCulture’s earlier releases would suggest the growing emphasis on vocals and the natural evolution of songwriting. For an act with 2 EPs and 1 album, not a major surprise there, but for two musicians whose first collective project was a metal band a few years ago, the journey of FuzzCulture is surely a refreshing affair. In the act’s case, Arsh Sharma, the vocalist/guitarist equally credits their associates for the growth in an upward trajectory. The rise in popularity received a sincere boost with the launch of ‘No’, and the music videos effectively helped the outreach further.

In 2016, the rock-influenced electronica outfit released its concept EP, interestingly titled ‘Twins’. The EP revolved around the subject of dealing with opposite natures. Strictly speaking in terms of sonic perception, Mahajan and Sharma had more similarities than differences, but the nature of creating the sound differs. “I am hyper-active,” says Sharma, who can be seen belting out vocals for ‘Gemini’ off the EP ‘Twins’ with singer/songwriter Heather Andrews. “Srijan is a bit organised and composed. He’s quite the opposite,” adds Sharma.

The vocal participation in ‘Gemini’ led to a possibility of extensively repeating the feat in upcoming efforts. “It could take a year or more. But, I have at least thirty compositions ready with me. I am a spontaneous writer, I have worked on 9-10 songs simultaneously too” asserted the hyper-active half of the duo. These compositions underwent the initial phases of creation and early touches during the production of ‘Twins’, however, the duo rightly felt that Twins can be followed with a full-fledged album.

Dates have not been finalised yet, and when there is a record label involved, one needs to execute the plans at the right time. Universal Music India represents the act, and as one of the biggest labels in the country, precise execution of whatever an emerging act produces adds to the responsibilities. With thirty compositions prepared, Sharma is understandably restless. “Also, I cannot just release these compositions under another project or solo project. There’s a commitment and I am extremely professional about it.” More than that, it feels Sharma’s admiration towards this project is too encouraging to ignore. “FuzzCulture is not a side project for us,” adds The Circus’ frontman, speaking on behalf of Mahajan, also Parikrama’s drummer.

The Malaysian tour, Sharma informs, ended with positive reviews and acknowledging the fact that FuzzCulture has outgrown its image of ‘yet-another-Delhi-based-band-experimenting-with-sounds’ and evolved into a band often discussed upon. “A lot of interest still pours from overseas for FuzzCulture, and that is what the next year seems to be heading to,” hopes Sharma. The recent development also explains the need for a management agency in Asia in the form of ‘Undergroundhk’.

With an upcoming performance for its Indian management agency ennui.Bomb’s annual festival ‘New Wave’, FuzzCulture would look forward to conclude a rather eventful year on a high note, and the festival could provide an ideal platform for the same. With more and more Indian acts attracting overseas promoters’ attention, FuzzCulture is preparing itself at the right time to dive into yet another arena of live music scene; an experiment that would justify the outreach of the band in terms of quality. Sharma hopes that one day he’d love to perform in an arena one day.

Excerpts from the interview:

What makes you come back to New Wave Asia festival year after year?

The agency and Rishu Singh’s passion for indie music is unmatchable; one of the reasons why we keep coming back to the festival.

Are you happy and hopeful about the future of the ‘indie’ scene as electronic-rock outfit producer?

Honestly I thought the scene was becoming a lot more intellectually stimulating a couple of years ago and as of right now there again seems to be a stagnation and saturation. For sure tickets are being sold but the content and intent of a lot of musicians today seems to be focussed on something entirely other than music. I've always had a general sense of hope and belief in the music we make but happiness has always been kind of a wicked mistress to me.

‘Twins’ proved you can sing and sing well. Would you say there was a more emphasis on vocals in the new EP?

I was never confident about vocals at first (when the two started the project), the emphasis back then was clearly on the production, and that’s where I had invested most of my focus on.

Any upcoming projects you want to talk about? 

We are working on a massive album right now which hopefully will completely change the perception of what FuzzCulture is about, but let's talk about that when we cross the bridge. We are excited about the two videos and they will be up on both our YouTube and VEVO accounts as well as vh1.

What’s your take on the youths who are inclined to electronic music? Do you think people are growing their musical knowledge over time?

I think they love to dance and are generally kind of the new flower generation who know that something absolutely new is on the horizon, now it's up to nihilists like us to come and disrupt their peace and hopefully make them think a little. We want to be the electronic music-makers who took it away from just being about dance, production, peace and drugs and hopefully get a sex pistols type vibe into our brand of electronica. We are still in a state of flux and transition so where this goes we will only know with time.

Bollywood music takes the biggest piece of the pie and then comes regional music. How difficult does it become for a music producer who incorporates sound for his originals to succeed in this market?

I know I'm a part of a minuscule minority and I'm fine with it. I just want our music to reach out to enough markets so we can find more people like us. For me, our music is about finding kinship and a sense of community for all the people who feel they don't belong anywhere, and that community is more important to me than survival or to think about a market. We want to create a place where the disenchanted can party with us.

You have performed throughout the nation, and in abroad too. Any favourite venue and how would you differentiate the music enthusiasts across these regions?

I would say Hong Kong was a lot of fun. U.K. Was a great experience. Malaysia is always fun and playing music festivals and packed venues are always the best. I feel people outside of the country possibly feel the ‘need’ of music in their lives more than most Indians do as we are a very community ‘mummy-papa’ based culture so they get really passionate when they like something. Though I think some of the most fun shows I've played and the most liberated people I've met are Indians.

FuzzCulture will perform at antiSocial Delhi on 18 December.