Between Wascally Wabbit’s début single and Mali’s latest release, the city’s musicians are getting more comfortable trying out fresh sounds
It all began with an Elmer Fudd cartoon. “I was watching Looney Tunes on YouTube,” recalls Vikram Vivekanand of Wascally Wabbit, who is also the guitarist for Grey Shack and Indosoul with Karthick Iyer.
He adds, “And I realised it went with the whole idea of us being quite outrageous and not holding back [with our music].”
Vikram, Vinay Ramakrishnan and Aravind Murali’s first single ‘Who Ate The Wabbit?’, released earlier this month, lives up to this claim with its smooth yet raw, no-holds-barred energy. And their band name, Wascally Wabbit, lives up to the sense of abandon that they want to instil in future numbers, too. “We decided we didn’t want to conform to any particular songwriter structures,” says Vikram.
Formed in January, Wascally Wabbit managed to get together for just one jam session before lockdown hit. “After that, we would mostly just jam online,” says drummer Vinay, adding, “This song was put together entirely from our separate homes.”
‘Who Ate The Wabbit’ extends for well over five minutes and is entirely instrumental, with occasional hints of the laid-back vibe reminiscent of sunlit Western films, and some roller-coaster spikes and dips in energy.
According to Vikram, however, there is no saying if the band’s other songs will follow suit. All he can guarantee is that it will be created off the reins.
Maalavika Manoj, too, is in favour of trying out different kinds of sounds as an artiste, which is why her latest track, released last week, sounds different from her recent ‘Absolute’ and ‘Age of Limbo’, with fewer challenges for her softly powerful voice and a more straightforward, gentle composition. Mali admits as much: “It’s not a super-ambitious performance song. I feel this is going to have more longevity, instead of being an instant hit. It’s a good driving song, a good ‘playlist-able’ song.”
The shift, she says, is deliberate: “My music is largely described as pop. But pop is such a wide genre; it borrows from everything. You can have rock-sounding, classical-sounding, synth-sounding songs that are all pop. And, if I wrote the same kind of song over and over again, I might just give up music and turn to gardening instead, like an actual mali (gardener),” she says with a laugh.
Incidentally, ‘Mundane’ is about her decision to take up music as a career in the first place. She penned the lyrics years ago, right after graduation when her friends were solidifying their career paths. “I kept asking them, how are you so sure?” she recalls, adding that her choice was between pursuing what she loved and earning less money in the bargain, or “choosing the more mundane lifestyle with a steady pay”.
The soft song with its mellow bridges addresses this dilemma, and also hints at something Mali spells out in this interview: “People think of being in a state of indecisiveness as failure. It is not.”