“Songs we wrote years ago fit into a recent discovery of ours – that the escape is within and the only way out is the only way in.”
Pratyush Pillai [vocals and guitar], Jackson John [guitar], Saahas Saritha Bala [sound] and Chris D’mello [bass and melody] who make up the band Blue Reverie – walk into PORT bright and early wearing vibrant kurtas and warm smiles. A complex set-up with a multitude of instruments follows – which proves to be worth the wait. As soon as their rich and familiar sounds flood the space, we sit back and lose ourselves in the music.
A post-grunge, alternative and power groove rock band based in Mumbai, Blue Reverie’s songs often revolve around the concept of ‘escapism’. Their extremely diverse influences range from Pantera, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and more.
After a riveting performance, they settle down for a chat. We asked them to bring along their lucky items, so we start by discussing those – their two favourite books by Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now and A New Earth. “They’re not lucky as much as inspirational”, Pratyush explains. “When we started Blue Reverie it was all about escaping from this place to a better one. But after reading these books, and following Tolle’s videos to make some sense of the insanity around us, it made us introspect and realise that the escape is actually within and not without.” This has made a huge shift in the music, songs and lyrics they’ve been writing. Back in the day, the band was writing about running away to an unknown place. But now, impacted by the simplicity of Tolle’s writing and oration, the same songs they wrote years ago all fit into their new discovery – and words they wrote in 2013, that are finally making sense to them.
Though a place of peace and joy is still a long way off for them. “There’s a lot of insanity in all our lives, in the world around us. It troubles us more at some times and less at others. But we hope to get to a peaceful state of being and move the world towards that, eventually.”
While inspiration is necessary and exposure to music only helps, when people start comparing their songs with those they’re inspired by, what happens?, Jackson says, “There are some similarities, but I think that will happen to any musician – anything you listen to will reflect in your music, but never in a very disturbing way.” Pratyush agrees, “Eddie Vedder has been a big influence. In fact I was never supposed to sing. I started singing only because in a lot of bands I was in, the vocalist I was with would get up and say “yaar feel nahi aa raha.” *Adds as an aside* Being in a band is like a marriage – if somebody leaves it’s heartbreaking.”
A huge fan of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Creed – Pratyush tells us how most song-writing starts with being very close to one’s influence and eventually gets taken forward in one’s own way. “When we first started, I’ve been asked whether I’m copying Eddie and that’s when I noticed we were slightly similar but I think the sound has evolved in the last five years. And it’s moved into a different space so we’re happy.”
Musicians often say they need to be in ‘the zone’ to make music together or jam together. For Blue Reverie, that zone often involves everyone in the room being in the same state of mind. “It can’t be just you alone, while everyone else is doing something else. If everyone’s state of mind is the same, that helps achieve that trance. It usually happens in all our jams. We’ll be playing the same song for half an hour and won’t realise,” mentions Chris. Saahas and Jackson agree that being in the zone is like being ecstatic and becoming one with music. “It’s like the cosmos is flowing through you. When we create music, we can easily go into a meditative and hypnotic state and for me that is the ‘zone’. You can continue playing and not even realise when you’ve played 27 bars,” says Saahas, who usually recommends new bands, songs and videos to the rest of the band.
They all agree that it’s all about chemistry with audiences for a successful gig because musicians need to ensure that the audience is having a good time. “That’s one of the main aspects of a live performance, because in the end you’re just displaying what you’re made of and you’re only satisfied when people can connect. We recently played an act where people were vibing with us – they were generous and open minded and were a great audience” says Chris.
Pratyush speaks enthusiastically about the first time they heard themselves play together in the set-up they’re currently in, as part of LIVE at PORT Season 1. “We would really like to thank PORT because this is where it all began. We actually stood there [points to the terrace] and got goosebumps remembering that day. I can’t describe it in words, it was unreal. We’re looking forward to more gigs like that.”
Blue Reverie’s upcoming work includes an EP called Audio Monastery.
Words by Shaista Vaishnav