Coshish means “attempt” in Hindi language, and is also a name of the Indian progressive rock band with plenty of different influences, both musical and cultural. They released the debut album titled Firdous in 2013 on Universal Music India, and are receiving great feedback ever since then. Prog Sphere had a feature on the band on Progstravaganza XV: Ascension.
In the interview below, they talk about their attempts.
Let me know about your vision with Coshish.
Coshish: We think that the main goal for Coshish will always remain the same… That is to make music that will affect our audience positively. We believe that music is a very important tool for raising our society’s consciousness, and if used intelligently, can lead to making our race slightly more self-aware! That being said, we also want to be remembered as a band that has made a mark, not in terms of sales but in terms of quality music!
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced with during the creative and recording process of your debut “Firdous”?
The fact that “Firdous” was going to be a concept album meant that we’d have to put in double the effort and work in overdrive! However, we still underestimated the magnitude of the project and reality hit us hard! The initial four to five songs were written by Mangesh (Guitars/Vocals) without a concept in mind. We happened to realize that they all had a connecting theme and decided to write the remaining songs together to fit a story… And that was really hard! We wanted our music to be organic, layered with emotions and yet fit the bigger picture. Mangesh had to wait for months to get the right inspiration for the lyrics. These things can’t be forced. That’s why it took four years to write it! Recording was relatively easier. We had to fly Zorran Mendonsa (Producer/Recording & Mixing Engineer) down from New Zealand and at one point we were terrified as the date of his return was approaching and we hadn’t begun tracking vocals! But the man is a genius and he made us feel really comfortable. We finished everything on time and really enjoyed the process. The artwork, packaging and tracklist puzzle took really long to execute. We wanted our fans to spend time with the album, to keep discovering something new and to make it a collectible! It took almost two years to execute that but it paid off!
Singing in your native language definitely puts a veil of mystery over your music. What are some of the themes you cover in your lyrics?
Since it’s a concept album…a story of sorts, our songs are more about the emotions that the protagonist goes through on his journey. We’ve included photographs in the packaging that you can use along with a little bit of imagination to almost watch it like a movie!
Firdous (Paradise) – A young village man goes to a soothsayer or a fortune teller to find out about his destiny. He is told that he is meant for the greater things in life but he wishes to move to the city and make it big.
Raastey (Routes/Roads) – He sees the veins of a dried leaf and realizes that there are hundreds of routes that a person can take but the destination is eventually the same. This shows that he has a spiritual side but he doesn’t know it yet.
Rehne Do (Let us be) – His family is killed in communal riots and his dreams of moving to the city are destroyed. Now he just wants to live his life because eventually everyone will die. He wishes that people would stop fighting and just live in peace.
Hum Hai Yahin (I’m still here) – A few months pass in depression as he still remembers his family and is not able to cope with the loss. He sings that he’s still waiting for them to return.
Bhula Do Unhey (Try to forget them) – In this song he tries very hard to forget about them and put his past behind him. In the second half of the song, he decides that he will not give up on his dream. He takes his belongings and leaves for the city.
Coshish (Attempt) – He moves to the city with a positive outlook on life, very excited to live his dream. He thinks that he will do all it takes to achieve what he wants. (You can hear the sound of him boarding a train and reaching the city).
Woh Kho Gaye (He is lost) – After a few months of working in the city, he understands that he has lost his direction and he’s not who he was. He wants to go back to his childhood self.
Behti Boondein (Flowing droplets) – In this song he realizes that the soul treats a human as a vessel or a tool to satiate its needs. Flowing droplet is a metaphor for the human body. Only when you understand this, can you attain salvation.
Maya (Illusion) – He finally understands that this material world is just an illusion and that you will really start to live once you see beyond the mask. He gives up his belongings to rid himself of the things that bind him to this world.
Mukti (Salvation) – He attains salvation and finally finds “Firdous” or “Paradise”.
Was it a matter of choice to sing in Hindi? Do you have a clear image what impact singing in Indian has on your listeners coming from the rest of the world?
We don’t think Mangesh had ever thought about this fact when he started writing the initial songs. In India, we speak English as fluently as we speak Hindi and all the other regional languages. Singing in Hindi just happened naturally and he went along with the flow! We’re actually quite surprised with the positive reviews we’ve been getting from across the globe! Marcel Haster from Live Prog said he likes singing the songs but has absolutely no clue of what he’s singing. There’s an upside and a downside to that. The good thing is that progheads might find it “exotic” but it’s sad that they aren’t able to decipher the lyrics, which are critical in cracking the concept! We generally send the explanation across to reviewers and our international audience but it’s not the same as understanding it on your own! Oh well, such is life!
Provide some insight into the band’s chemistry that leads to what is to be a final product – an album.
We’re all about creative freedom! There isn’t one person directing the band and asking the members to play specific parts. One member will obviously take the lead and explain the “vibe” he’s looking for but that’s about it. The initial 4-5 songs were written and structured completely by Mangesh and the rest of the band wrote their own parts. The remaining songs on the album were even more organic. We’d bring in a riff or a drum groove and jam on it till we thought we had something. We’d go back and record that and try creating some parts to take it further. We’d come back and jam on it to see if it fits. There’s basically a lot of jamming and bouncing off of ideas. No idea is rejected without jamming on it first. There are tonnes of arguments and differences but it’s all for the music.
There is a breakdown video for the title track off the album, where you guys explain the structure of the song. Overall, there are many time signatures and rhythmic changes threaded through the Coshish music. How do you go about determining the duration of certain parts before a change is required?
Coshish: This is probably one of the best researched interview we’ve done Anyway, that’s a tricky question. Since we’re so inspired by Prog bands, we want our songs to be never ending haha! But we take a musical approach towards structuring. Every part we write needs to have a reason for being there. It should be a small building block that adds to something bigger. The key to structuring is jamming a lot. You’ll know naturally when you want to move into another part…very similar to the changing of gears while driving a car!
You released a video for Raastey, a second track from the album. What is the story behind this particular song?
Since “Raastey” was going to be the first video, we thought of using it as a tool to explain the “photo finding” concept of the album. In the story scenes of the video, you can see a young boy, a traveler or adventurer, entering an old abandoned house. While snooping around, he stumbles upon a treasure chest with 10 photographs in an envelope. These are the same photographs that are in the CD packaging which also have hand written lyrics behind them. So basically he finds that somebody’s spiritual journey has been documented and kept in the treasure chest for people to discover. The song’s title means “Roads/Routes” which can be interpreted in many ways for example, you can jumble the photos to create your own story or try different routes and realize that they take you to the same goal!
Tell me about the setup you used for recording Firdous.
The drums were recorded in Empire Studio, one of the best studios in India. Hamza used his Mapex Drums and Paiste Cymbals that can be seen here. We had ace engineers, Chinmaya Harshe and Ninad Lad help us capture the best drum sound possible. The rest of the album was recorded by Zorran in our Jam Room. He’d lugged his equipment all the way from New Zealand and we setup a portable recording studio here. We were all really comfortable recording in our own jam room. Zorran’s personality makes you feel at ease and recording with him was amazing fun. Here are some of our recording antics. We used Blade Guitars, Taylor Acoustic Guitars and Greg Bennett Basses going into an Axe FX 2.0! However, the sound we’ve achieved has more to do with the engineer than the equipment J The Cinematic Sound Effects were recorded by Ninad and Adwait at Rattlehead Studio.
The album received great reviews and has been nominated for several awards. Are you satisfied with its reception so far?
We honestly hadn’t expected the album to do so well. All we wanted to do was to create something that would put India on the Global Prog Rock Map. We just wanted to feel worthy of being inspired by Tool, Porcupine Tree, Meshuggah, etc. We managed to get to #8 on iTunes, #28 on Nokia Music and we set a record number of pre-orders on 3 websites! We owe that to our fans, friends, family and the label. It was a collaborative effort with loads of hard work and luck! We couldn’t have asked for more!
Though you classify as progressive rock, your music appeal to out-of-prog circles. Especially those close to classic rock. Is it something you determine as one of your main goals back when starting out with the band?
We actually don’t believe in classification but in today’s age you need a tag to describe your music. The closest genre we come to is progressive rock though we’ve got some post rock, alternative metal and classic rock elements as well. We love being super technical but not at the cost of losing the melodic aspect of music! We want everyone to enjoy our songs and musicians to figure out the technicalities
What is your relationship with Universal Music India like?
It’s a common fact that Rock Music is very niche in India. You can imagine what it must be like for a Prog Rock band. [laughs] That being said, Universal was kind enough to believe in our music. They did a fantastic job of pressing the CDs to the perfection we’d wanted. Our packaging was quite unique and the guys at Universal were very supportive. They made sure that the album was dispatched to all the vendors and websites and even created a Vevo account for our videos! We’re super lucky to have the MD dig our music! How many MDs wear a band’s tee and post it all over Facebook? It’s been awesome working with them and we’re looking forward to a lasting relationship
How does the cultural heritage of your country influence your music?
This is a tough one. Talking about what influences music is always difficult as there are some obvious and some underlying factors. On the instrumental front, we’re clearly influenced by the prog giants while on the thematic front, we’ve got a lot of Indian-ness in us! Even the story of “Firdous” is something that any Indian will be able to relate to especially because of the rural and urban divide! As far as the lyrics are concerned, Mangesh took a lot of inspiration from real events which we weaved into a story. So in a way, a huge part of what Coshish does, is subconsciously influenced by our culture!
How do you see your music evolving in the future?
We’ve currently got a couple of rough drafts down and from the looks of it, it seems like we’re getting proggier and heavier. We’ll find a way to mask that to appear simple on the outside haha! Even though we’re heading more towards the technical side, we’ll always keep in mind that it’s about the music and melody first! It’s definitely a tough job but if bands like Tool and Porcupine Tree can do it, we’re willing to try! We’re in touch with Sylvia Massy (passing out with excitement) and she’s interested in working with us. We’re really hoping something comes out of that!
Thanks for taking the effort in doing so much research on us! It was great talking to you Nick!