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News |  04 Sep 2016 20:47 |  By RnMTeam

3 - Sifar's darkest effort so far

Hindi rock bands have come a long way. From being overlooked by an ambitious music listener craving for something 'more western' and 'lesser raags' to setting up self-organised multi-city tours promoting DIY albums, these bands have had their fair share of challenges. And one such band would soon release its third studio album - '3' - this month.

The teaser for the upcoming music video

'Sifar' witnessed several changes in the scene and within its own ideologies and arrangement since the release of debut album '1'. Unavoidable replacements in the line-up to shifting base from home and relocating in "the city where music industry exists", Sifar adapted to requirements. The eight-year-long journey provided three album releases, association with a major music label, awards nominations and a soon-to-be released first music video. 'Sifar' - arabic for zero - started as founder Amit Yadav's project in 2008, then gained some serious momentum with former investment banker Anshul Bansal's contribution as songwriter/lyricist and support from an IIT professor's son Nikhil, the guitarist. The inception and the journey has every possible element for the story-line of a mainstream Hindi cinema revolving around the lives of rockstars- dejection, rejection, failure, no funds, bittersweet experience with a corporate label, international tour and a suicide attempt.

Amit Yadav has a lot to tell. He isn't the finest sounding vocalist or the guitarist out there. And Yadav would be the first one to acknowledge that. However, the imperfections create a key luring factor that potentially attracts a Euphoria fan to its sound with the same intensity as it does to a Dream Theater follower. Quitting a safe job is only the tip of the several factors that suggests the vocalist's desperate desire to seek of whatever that led to the project's birth in 2008. IIT days led to few depressing moments for Yadav, and a dissatisfying job, but the young vocalist managed to turn things around for himself. A music video revolving around his composition eight years later is another example of how rewarding patience could be.

With a new bassist (Smit Hajare) joining the Sifar journey, Yadav pointed out other elements that would steer the band in a new direction. "For the first time, we would be releasing a proper music video. The new album would also have English lyrics. It's a collection of songs, and not a concept album. In a way, the album would feature the same character in all the songs, from beginning to end." Revolving around the Yin-Yang idea, Yadav informed he wanted to end the album in the darkest possible manner. But on the other hand, he did not want the listeners to leave the album on a pessimistic note. "The first four songs are as pessimistic as they come, while the album's last four songs would end with an optimistic tone," explained Yadav, who added that next year, the band will release its first concept album.

The band's sound could be related to early works of Nirvana, Depeche Mode's last album 'Delta Mode' and if frontman Yadav is to be believed, the third album and the future projects would only keep sounding darker. That factor helps Sifar perform its songs to a niche crowd that would appreciate the sound. "No corporate gigs or pub gigs excite us," said Yadav, one of the two existing members of the original line-up. The band largely focuses on college gigs for a more relatable audience that acknowledges its intent and lyrical magnitude. The songs talk about coming to terms with loss, cheating on loved ones, guilt, and lately the evolution has reflected on the lyrical front too. "The second album moved our senses towards naturalism, religion, climate change, so our lyrics are more dynamic. The upcoming album would be closest to a solo effort," explained Yadav. "The songs would, to a larger extent, be a reflection of my thoughts and ideas. Expect it to be darker than the previous efforts."

Sifar finds itself in the fortunate league of Hindi rock bands - for example Parvaaz, Lagori, Faridkot, The Local Train - where the members did not have to 'woo' the audience in its early days through the covers of popular Bollywood songs. In fact, the more emphasis on originals have further driven newer faces to their gigs and the 'fandom' has even extended to fan-made YouTube videos of Sifar's originals. "If the band's motive is to only entertain the audience, then I can understand if the artist performs 'Char bottle vodka' and similar songs, which are primarily composed to only entertain. But do not expect such songs from bands like Sifar, who want to emote something serious through the compositions," elaborated Yadav on the nature of Sifar's content. Point well made. One cannot expect Steven Wilson to write a song about drinking tequilas and resultant hangovers from a bachelor's party. As they say, leave it to the experts.

The band started at 'sifar' (zero), and the album names '1', '2' and '3' act as its journey from 'nothing' to a growing force. The band never adopted mainstream methods to promote its albums or singles. In fact, for its first album '1', the band proudly boasts of executing the idea of exchanging free music for email subscriptions. "We did this back in 2010. I do not know if we started it, as it's a trend now, but we surely were one of the firsts to do so." And the idea led to an interview with Digit Magazine, a studio album with Universal Music India (2013) - that reached iTunes' top spot in its first week - and exemplified the classic 'one-thing-leads-to-another' phenomenon as the band performed few shows abroad, including two gigs in Bhutan last year.

'Yahi Zindagi Hai' will be the band's first release off the upcoming album '3', and also the first official music video. The video will be out on 06 September, and the 8-track album is expected to release on 16 September. With '3', Yadav hopes to change the perception towards Sifar from a 'Hindi rock band' to purely just a 'rock band', but the band's last release - single featuring Shivnagi Bhayani - perhaps is an indication of the band's attempt to continue experimenting with sounds and jump occasionally beyond the 'rock' spectrum.

Sifar is -

Amit Yadav (vocals, guitar)
Deepak Singh (drums)
Sachin Mittra (guitar)
Smit Hajare (bass)