Jamming with Masala Coffee

An EDM version of ‘Kantha’, new members and an upcoming EP will feature in Indie folk band Masala Coffee’s concert on February 15


If you’ve been to a Masala Coffee show, you know it isn’t over till a deafening encore coaxes the band into performing ‘Kantha’. At their concert on February 15, the Indie band is back with an EDM version of the hit song. Composed by founder Varun Sunil, it was first performed on Kappa TV’s show, Music Mojo, in 2015, and has since garnered over 15 million views on YouTube. “You will also find it in our first album of 2020, to be launched next month, featuring folk rock numbers in English, Hindi, Tamil and Punjabi,” says Sunil.

City of favourites

Back in Chennai for the eighth time, they are clearly fans of the city. “We simply love the people here and their spirit. The way they accept the music is amazing,” says Sunil. The nine-member band — with Daya Sankar on drums, Preeth PS and David Crimson on guitar, Pauly on bass, and Krishna Raj on the violin — will be joined by renowned veena player and composer, Rajesh Vaidhya. “He will perform our originals along with a few AR Rahman hits,” says Sunil, adding that their compositions will also be heard in Dulquer Salmaan’s upcoming Tamil film, Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal and Bougain Villa in Telugu.

And, of course, there is the food. “We enjoy sampling local cuisine. Chennai’s kothu parotta and jigarthanda are my favourites,” says Sunil.

Surprisingly, filter coffee doesn’t make it to the list. But the band, like its name, likes to be different. “When we were brainstorming for ideas, I took a break and went outside the studio to our regular chai waala.” Inspired by the menu, their sound engineer suggested ‘masala chai’. “I thought it was too common and replaced chai with coffee. Back then, even a Google search did not throw up any results for Masala Coffee, and the name just stayed.”
Varun Sunil   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Coming up

There is a lot more brewing for the band apart from the new album. They’ve just launched their EP, Kimaya, named after their guitarist Crimson’s daughter, and added three new members to their lineup. “Aslam and Crishna are the new vocalists, and Steve Kottur joins us on the keyboard,” says Mumbai-based Sunil, explaining that the band wants to cater to a pan-India crowd and is now gearing up to perform at the Goa Carnival 2020 later this month. “We are not a Kerala-based band, but an Indian band. With the new members, we now have eight languages on board, including Arabic. Our folk flavour will always be present in our music,” says Sunil, who recently turned an independent musician after signing a contract with Sony. “I will be working on six music videos and eight lyric videos in the ‘tam pop’ genre.” His work will also feature in the upcoming Tamil film, Poda Mundam, and two Malayalam films: Cheruvadi Phanto, and another for Friday Filmhouse.

Masala Coffee will perform live at Forum Vijaya Mall on February 15 at 7 pm. Entry is free.