Ask the Mumbai-based indie rock band The Koniac Net about what got them interested in music, and they'll say it was because they wanted to sound like the musicians they listened to growing up. A polished mix of melodies and meandering, the six-member band has found a harmony that reflects their varied tastes and styles. On their most recent release, They Finally Herd Us, they've mined their influences for the pleasing essentials and put together a solid anodyne for 90s nerds."We're a predominantly indie band, but we've got all these other elements from hard rock, shoegaze, whatever. You don't listen to just one band, so your own music will also inadvertently incorporate these different elements," says lead vocalist David Abraham.
We caught up with them on a sweltering summer afternoon to discuss the ways in which they've found middle ground over the years - between inspiration and creation, between practicing and performing, between learning and teaching. Apart from their work with The Koniac Net, three of the band's musicians are associated with the True School of Music. While several members learned their craft from teachers and online tutorials, the experiences often left them wanting.
"I love to play the drums, but my first love is teaching it because of what it did for my life," believes drummer Karun Kannampilly. "When you're having a bad day, there's no better feeling than getting to your drum kit so you can smash it out. It works on good days too, and it's just so important to have that emotional connection with your instrument." His understanding is that one vocation flows freely into the other, supporting their development as artists rather than hindering it. He thinks that you can learn a lot about who you are as a musician, from helping someone else. "While I was studying, I began assisting with teaching and now I'm part of the vocal faculty. It comes naturally on some level," adds vocalist and keyboardist Mallika Barot. "When you're learning to sing, you want to know what it's like to sing with an instrument. It's much easier to explain different concepts when it's accompanied by an instrument. I started playing keys as a way to give my students a reference. It's the next step." Kannampilly also teaches drums at a workshop series called The Drumhouse with musicians like Darshan Doshi and Jai Row Kavi.
In many ways, teaching has changed the way the band members experience music. It's an outlet that allows them to explore and be inspired, while still performing across the country. "It's a hard job and takes a long time to get to the point where you can make a living, but if you stick with it, there's money to be made. There's a lot of potential work," says bassist Adil Kurwa.
Words and Images by Jessica Kilbane.