Interview: Indie Pop Duo Parekh & Singh on Their Sophomore Album, Science City
What do you get when you cross indie pop music with an impeccable sense of taste? Do enough searching and you might come across the dapper Indian dream pop duo, Parekh & Singh.
Hailing from Kolkata, India (formerly known as Calcutta), the pair produces music that falls somewhere between indie folk and indie pop, which was clearly showcased on their debut album Ocean back in 2016. While the album was well-received in their home country, the release of the singles “I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll” and “Ghost” allowed them to reach a new breadth of listeners worldwide. Adding to the duo’s success are their captivating music videos, which draw heavily from American film director Wes Anderson’s unique style. But instead of using folklorish Americana as a backdrop, Parekh & Singh repurposed Anderson’s style to showcase the beauty of Kolkata. It’s a move that has won over countless viewers and listeners, particularly in their home country.
Another interesting aspect to their music is their simple, yet charming lyricism. In “I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll,” vocalist and guitarist Parekh tells a simple story about loving someone (“I used to shine deep bright red when I was with you / Then everything changed only I stayed the same / All my blue skies turned to grey and all my flowers turned away”). In “Ghost,” he laments the loss of his pet when he pens, “Jump into the ocean learn to swim / Come to summer, winter, all and the seasons / I guess that might be the reason / That I’m a ghost.” Parekh’s voice is bright and nostalgic, one that takes you on a trip down memory lane and reminds you of the good old times with your loved ones. Alongside him, percussionist Singh’s whimsical beats will make you sway your body from side to side. Together, the duo are at the forefront of India’s new wave of independent musicians.
But if you thought that their production on their debut album was brilliant, Parekh & Singh take it to a whole new level on their upcoming release, Science City. Their two new singles, “Summer Skin” and “Hello” explore a different side of their musical abilities. They delve further into their dream-pop world, incorporating sounds more mature and complex compared to their successful debut album. “Crystalline,” the third and final single before the album’s release date, is altogether another beast, subbing in a groovy bassline that wouldn’t be out of place in a smoky jazz club.
A closer listen to the lyrics also show that Parekh has taken the leap from his comfort zone of childhood innocence in favor of ones entrenched in adolescent melancholy. Singh also seems to have expanded his reach as a percussionist by incorporating more synths into the album’s mix. With added modern pop culture references and intricate synthpop, the duo are coming back with a renewed sense of musical identity.
Keep a lookout for their new album, Science City, out April 26th– it will take your breath away.
While you’re counting down the days until the new album, take a moment to read our brief interview with Parekh & Singh, which was conducted via email in February. Here are some of the amazing things they had to say:
Why did you choose to name your new album Science City?
“Science City” is the name of an old quirky science themed amusement park in our hometown of Calcutta, India. We both visited it as children. It’s a spot that anyone who’s grown up in Calcutta will instantly connect to, so on that sense it’s a tribute to the city where it all started for us.
“Hello” and “Summer Skin”, the two lead singles, are songs that branch out into synthpop and more layered instrumentation. Are you experimenting with new sounds and textures for the next album?
Yes – experimentation has been the name of the game for this new record. Synthesizers are a shared passion for us and we have delved deep into the sonic explorations for the new music.
What was the creative process like behind this album, as opposed to Ocean? Was there anything that you did differently?
The process was more collaborative this time around. On Ocean, we worked more in stages – all the other music was written first and then drums were added. On the new album, we have worked on each song together from the ground up. Writing, editing, re-editing and recording.
One of the things that make you two stand out so much as musicians are your highly stylized music videos. How does a P&S music video get made? What is that process like?
A P&S music video usually starts with a written concept note. This could be a few sentences or a few pages depending on what the intention for the film is. This concept is then circulated amongst our key collaborators such as Misha Ghose, who has directed all our videos so far. After that it’s purely shared experience between a whole bunch of people – producers, technicians, artists, etc that all work tirelessly to realise the original vision.
How have people in your hometown reacted to your music? Have things changed since you released Ocean?
Funnily enough, Calcutta is not a huge base in terms of fandom or streaming numbers for us yet. We have much larger fanbases in other cities of India and the world. I think it has been hard for the people of our hometown to identify us as true residents of the city and modern music is difficult to propagate in Calcutta. It’s almost as if we have to work the hardest to really win over our hometown which is a fun challenge.
What is Kolkata’s indie music scene like? Are there any local bands that the rest of the world ought to be paying attention to?
Who/What inspired you two to become musicians?
Honestly the ability to play music was enough to inspire us to do this. Music itself is the biggest inspiration in all its forms and variations.
Who would you like to work with on a song in the future?
Greg Kurstin, a fantastic musician & producer from Los Angeles is at the top of our list.
Any chance that you will be going on tour in the U.S?
Yes – plans are in the works! Hopefully they will materialise into something this year.
More than anything, the two of you are very snazzy dressers! What are your favorite suit and tie color combinations?
Nothing beats a well cut navy or black suit with a white shirt. The tie should usually be a contrasting colour that pops against the suit and shirt in our opinions. The tie should express the person’s character and quirks.
Parekh & Singh’s sophomore album, Science City, will be released April 26th on Peacefrog Records.
Edited by Li-Wei Chu.