It’s not everyday that you meet your musical match. And when you do, you’ve got to make it count. So when Jalebee Cartel disbanded in 2012, two of its members decided to team up and form their own outfit. Ash Roy and Ashvin Mani Sharma, took off from where the Cartel, hailed as India’s most successful live underground act left off, under the banner of Soupherb Records (a record label) and now Bit of Both, their live electronica band. In the city to launch their debut album, Prequels and Sequels, the duo shares how their journey down the exhilarating road of music began.
“We have actually been working together since 2002-2003. We started by doing some Bollywood remix work. We enjoyed working together. One thing led to another and we formed the Cartel,” reveals Sharma, and casts his mind back to his trip to Germany last year, when he knew without a shadow of doubt that they were meant to be performing live. “Last year in Berlin, we did a five-hour long impromptu live set with our friends, and fellow musicians called Falling Cows and it made us realise how badly we missed performing live,” he says.
From collaborations with producers like Grain and Kohra to New York-based guitarist Bhrigu Sahni, and even Anushka Manchanda, the two have curated something they hope will resonate with the growing number of electronica fans in the country. “Over the years, since the Cartel’s breakup, Ash and I would jam and also invite other artistes. This led to a whole bunch of amazing tracks, which in turn led us to the album, as it is. The focus really is on writing memorable pieces of music that have repeat listening value, essentially songs,” he shares, adding, “This album is a collection of moods and moments over the years. We never really planned to release this as an album. We took our time with the tracks. There was no conscious effort to get here, we were just making music.”
Revealing that their set in Bengaluru will be a live audio visual experience, Roy is still waiting for that ‘breakthrough’ moment that will mark the highlight of his career. “There have been a lot of good moments with Jalebee Cartel and then the launch of our label Soupherb Records and now Bit of Both, but the ‘breakthrough moment’ is still yet to come,” says the young man, whose interests include cooking and running.
Talking about their performance here in Bengaluru, Roy says he enjoys performing here thanks to an open-minded audience, while Sharma is all praise for the incredible talent coming out of the city. “We’ve just signed a track by a 14-year-old from Bengaluru to our label. Incredible,” he says, to prove his point.