Karan Oberoi on remixes: Have a healthy balance between originals and tributes to older songs

Arushi Jain
karan oberoi new song

Karan Oberoi believes original expression is very difficult in comparison to just taking somebody's composition and tweaking it a bit. (Photo: Karan Oberoi/Instagram)

Music group A Band of Boys, comprising of Karan Oberoi, Siddharth Haldipur, Sherrin Varghese, Chintoo Bhosle and Sudhanshu Pande, left music lovers in awe with their album Yeh Bhi Woh Bhi in 2002. At the peak of their careers, they drew comparisons with the Backstreet Boys and Boyzone.

While the band has been missing in action, they recently reunited for McDowell's No1 Yaari Jam Pad in Mumbai. We got to talk to band member Karan Oberoi who confirmed that A Band of Boys will soon be coming out with a new album. He also spoke about the band's long hiatus and discussed what they were up to in all these years.

Excerpts from the conversation:

How was it performing at the No1 Yaari Jam Pad?

It is not that we left music. We were always pursuing it. Unfortunately, because of the advent of remixes, and a lot of those older songs being recreated, original music was getting lost. We were happy when Hungama came up with this idea of creating content with original writing. So, we got the perfect platform to bring back the old golden era of pop which was there in the late 90s, and early 2000s.

Did performing together after so long bring back memories of old times?

Actually, we never stopped performing. This is a bit of a misnomer here. We were writing music but were not getting a platform to showcase it. We never dissolved the band. In fact, we have great chemistry. Whenever we get back together, it's a lot of fun. So it was a great and fulfilling experience.

band of boys

A Band of Boys comprises of Karan Oberoi, Siddharth Haldipur, Sherrin Varghese, Chintoo Bhosle and Sudhanshu Pande.

What took the band so long to come back together?

If you look at it, every music company is just creating their old songs. Where does it leave any scope for any Indie musicians to be able to express themselves? I have made songs in the past. I wrote a political-social satire in 2014 called the Ungli song which is basically to galvanize young people to go and vote but because it didn't get a platform, it just got lost. Original expression is very difficult in comparison to just taking somebody's composition and tweaking it a bit. We were waiting for the right time.

Do you think, now more than ever, the Indian audience needs to be exposed to band music as the music of films is mostly about recreations?

Absolutely. Even after 20 years, the songs we wrote, the five or six of our biggest hits, are still fresh in people's minds. Maybe 20 years down the line, someone will feed off our songs. We should have a healthy balance between original and odes and tributes to older songs. But we should never stop the process of writing original music.

With Bollywood's influence on people's taste in music, is it difficult to bring back indie-pop music?

Yes, for two reasons. Not for the quality of music but it's more about the expenditure of money they do on promoting the songs across all platforms. They have tie-ups with TV, radio and all broadcasters, so you can't match the might of the broadcasters. Even the digital media, which was easy to consume earlier, has now become a paid medium. Now, you put a song on YouTube, you won't get the views unless you put money on it or Facebook for that matter. So, it's a tough fight.

So, is the popular opinion that YouTube has provided a platform to singers, not true?

To be honest, initially when YouTube needed the content, it did invite people to put out their songs. But, the algorithms have consistently changed and eventually, it's all about the business. So, now they say you put money, which is how TV used to run. They used to say you put money in advertising and we'll take your song, which is very sad. Hopefully, someday, the public is going to wake up to this and say 'Enough of Bollywood. Enough of the remixes and recreations. Let's have some original music'. Hopefully, this will pave the way for other people to come forward too.

"Meri Neend Udd Gayi" is still popular among music lovers. How does it feel?

It is unreal because there are places where we've gone to perform our new songs and I can't escape the stage till the time I sing "Meri Neend", "Gori" and "Nain Kataari". I feel so blessed because it's almost like a legacy you have created.

Would you ever want to recreate "Meri neend udd gayi hai" or would you ever give it to somebody to recreate?

Every time I have performed that song, it is accepted so holistically the way it is, that you feel you don't want to dilute it because it still seems relevant. So, I am not very sure about this.

What is your thought on recreating older melodies?

I have mixed feelings about that. A child born in 2000 would have never heard of a song which was created in the 1960s. But my humble suggestion is, have a healthy balance of what you create from the old and it should be almost like an 80-20 mix. 80% should be original and 20% should be recreation. But don't have the balance completely lopsided because you don't want to work hard.

How has your equation been with band members? Have you had any creative differences?

It's like any family. It's like any marriage where we get married for the utopian idea of being able to coexist but that doesn't really happen. You have your point of view. You have your creative differences, even our taste in music is varied. I am more influenced by ghazal and poetry. Sherrin Varghese is more into hard rock, so we bring in all those influences. What we all agree on is that every creation has to pass a litmus test between us as a band before we put it out to the public. So that's a good exercise that we have within the band.

a band of boys

A Band of Boys reunited for McDowell's No. 1 Yaari jam pad in Mumbai.

What were you up to in these years when you were not creating music?

We were performing gigs, corporate shows and stuff like that. When we didn't have a show, we would all get together and jam, which is beautiful.

You have been a part of many tv shows. Why is that the audience gets to see so less of you now?

That's the complaint I get from people who are very kind to me. I took a sabbatical from television purely because the content went for a toss. And for me, I am a passionate human being. I can't be a part of anything that I don't believe in. I have to be inspired by the situation. TV did not allow me that space. There were flies, mosquitoes, crocodile, whole jungle Safari was happening on TV. I can't be doing this because I have to make money. A lot of my senior actor friends like Ronit, Rohit, and Sudhanshu told me you're being extremely stupid about this and just try being there. I tried so often to do that but I have not been able to get there. So, right now I'm doing something that I enjoy. I am acting in a web series and I'm also creatively producing a couple of shows on the web platform.