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Interviews |  07 Jun 2017 14:42 |  By Kavita Yadav

It is a very fulfilling experience to feel the energy of a stadium full of fans: Sanam

MUMBAI: 'Success' is definitely not a rocket science or it would have had an exact formula. But, making a way to the audiences’ hearts definitely, leads one to the path of success. Indian pop-rock band Sanam managed to make their way to a million hearts a while ago and now that’s even reflecting on their YouTube channel – The band has two million subscribers.

The Mumbai-based band consisting of Sanam Puri (Lead Vocals), Samar Puri (Lead Guitar and Vocals), Venky S (Bass Guitar and Vocals) and Keshav Dhanraj (Drums and Vocals) has come a long way from where they began. Today, they are not just another band that achieved fame through YouTube, but they are out there on the roads to showcase their talent. The band has been travelling for concerts and these include some international tours.

In a candid conversation with, Sanam took us through their fame filled journey. Excerpts.

Tell a bit about La Bamba. It's catching up with your fans. 

Venky S: La Bamba is a Mexican folk song. It’s a dance anthem that can never go out of fashion - a cultural favourite dating back to 1830’s. Our version of this classic falls in a more peppy pop genre rather than a Rock ‘n’ Roll one, while retaining the original flavour of primary instruments-bass, drums and guitar yet adding more synth to add a dancy-modern vibe. 

Samar Puri: Also unique about this release is the teasing Chuck Berry-Inspired rap portions sung by Venky. For the very first time, we shot a Green Screen music video for this song. The video also features an old couple, a young couple, and a pre-adolescent couple. Since our fan base belongs to diverse age groups and it was our attempt at creating dance number that connects to one and all.

Ben Thomas (Band’s Business Manager): Two reasons we chose to cover La Bamba. Firstly, that it’s a song that will never ever grow old and secondly it will help us reach out to more geography - Spanish, being the language sung in the song is the second most widely spoken language in the world.

Sanam Puri: We also attempted to do rock and roll steps called monkey, twist, sticks and the soul clap. They are easy steps. We had a lot of fun doing them. We saw a lot of our fans emulating the steps in our South America, Europe and Mauritius concerts.

Are you'll happy with all that you have achieved in these years?

Samar Puri: We are really lucky and honoured to have so many wonderful people following us on YouTube and other social media. When we were growing up, the accepted truth was that to make it in the music industry, you need to either work in the Bollywood film industry or be signed to a big music label. Those were the only options. However, in this digital age, things are different. Many of the biggest artists in the world today were discovered on YouTube by uploading simple videos made in the comfort of their own homes. Money, contacts and influence are not important factors on YouTube. If your product is good and if people like it, you will find your video spreading on its own. It’s been four years since the band’s formation and we are getting a lot of love and following.

Keshav Dhanraj: Out of billions of videos being uploaded on YouTube, it is really overwhelming to know that more than two million people have subscribed to our channel and enjoy listening to the music we put out. While we are the first music artist in India to cross a million subscribers on YouTube, we see it as the start. We are hoping to see many more talented independent artists come up in India real soon. 

Whom would you like to attribute the success of increased YouTube subscribers?

Keshav Dhanraj: We started our YouTube channel when our manager (fifth member of our band) Ben Thomas suggested we upload a few videos online so he could showcase our work to the industry. In that process, we learnt a lot by doing everything on our own. This gave us the confidence to continue to put out more music that we wanted to share with the rest of the world.

The bands moved from making covers to originals. Are you'll enjoying the creative change and the song making process?

Sanam Puri: Unlike what some people think, we actually started with originals. We started off with two studio albums with Times Music and they had all original compositions. We started making covers later for two primary reasons- One for the love of old classics, and secondly to build an audience. Every music legend that you know from The Beatles to Michael Jackson, to every recent success like Ed Sheeran or Justin Bieber; every artist has done covers. People in India don't understand this evolution correctly. Some of our recent releases are songs we made as kids.

Samar Puri: Growing up as kids, me and Sanam wrote, composed and recorded a lot of songs together. For Example ‘Agar Tum Suno’ was written about 11 years ago. We have a lot of such songs that over time you may see us release.

What are the five things that make ‘Sanam’ a successful band?

Sanam Puri: The very first is to consistently work towards new music and releasing the same regularly to stay connected to our audience. Second, is that in our togetherness we stand strong and are able to achieve a lot more than we individually would have. It gives us our freedom, yet keeps us accountable to each other. Thirdly, we constantly strive to make our live quotient strong. So, that our fans have a great time when they see us live. This is important to us because performing live gives us that small pocket to be able to impress our audience in person and we love being on stage. It is a very fulfilling experience to feel the energy of a stadium full of fans that travel distances just to watch us. Fourth, constantly assessing what went right and wrong after every release and every show. Last but not the least and in fact, the most important factor for a band/ artist’s growth is representation and imaging. Our Manager Ben Thomas holds the key to this aspect and the world knows that he has done a great job at positioning us correctly. Having managed Sonu Nigam and the likes, he understands the pulse of the industry and safeguards our interests and strategises our way forward.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Venky S: Our strengths are definitely working in patterns that are familiar; whether it's the music or the style of shooting/presenting videos. However, as artists it's important to innovate. And that takes time and patience. Even spending time in improving our live performances is a key for our existence as a band. So, that can sometimes affect our consistency in releases. This can be looked as an area of weakness.

What are the things that still remain untouched for you as a band?

Venky S: Musically we're still reaching out to newer sounds as a band. We want to make a lot more songs, explore more genres, more musical instruments. Reaching out to more regional audiences and introducing the band sound to them.

Justin Bieber was recently in India and he lip syncing. This made a lot of fans unhappy. What should ideally be a big 'no' during a live concert?

Sanam Puri: Lip Syncing is not our thing. I can’t comment whether it’s wrong or right. A lot of International artists follow this format. But it’s usually acceptable when the performance is very dance oriented as it is practically difficult to sing, dance and breathe together. But unless that’s the case, I can't fathom why an artist should Lip Sync through the whole concert.

When one reaches a certain stature, things do get stagnant. What is it that you do to stay motivated as a band?

Keshav Dhanraj: Well as of now we don't understand stagnant. Life is full of action and there is no time to breathe. We spend all our time together, making music, playing video games, travelling/exploring new places. We are all foodies so we keep trying out new cuisines and local food of different countries while on tour. So every moment spent together is new and special for us all.

Is there a venue that you’re eagerly waiting to perform at?

Venky S: We've watched live recordings of legendary artists and bands perform at many iconic international venues like The O2 Arena, Wembley, Royal Albert Hall, in UK, Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall (New York), Staples Centre (LA) etc. We strive to step up the level of our presentation and our performance along with our musicians and tech crew in our live shows so that any venue can be elevated to one of grandeur.

When do you plan to release your next single? 

 Keshav Dhanraj: Within a fortnight. You will more or less always get the same answer to this question as we target to lease a new video every fortnight.