In a land where Bollywood rules, all-girl four-piece The Vinyl Records (TVR) are making a whole lot of noise all their own, exciting the ears of India’s Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire magazine editors (who have featured TVR on their pages) in the process. Taking cues from musical inspirations such as CSS and the B-52’s TVR love to put on a show! I’ve been corresponding with drummer Mithy Tatak a little and had her answer some questions for me about TVR, the music scene in India, feminism and more.
Tell us about the music scene/community in India.
THE VINYL RECORDS: Talking about the Indian music scene, for the past decade it has been evolving to a space where musicians are experimenting with different styles and genres. Alternative indie music is still underground & inspiration has mostly come from west but, some groups have already started to find their own voices sticking to their roots of Indian folk & classical music. No price for guessing Bollywood is still the king here and is also one of the reasons why many of the amazing bands are left unheard by the billions of people here.
How did you first come to playing music? Is it something that came naturally to you?
TVR: We were in high school back in those days, and starting or having an all-girl band was something different. Some of us were taking music lessons in the school, and we never actually took it seriously back then to start a band in a professional manner. What started as a fun experiment gradually picked up pace and we got overwhelming response from people out there, and thus, The Vinyl Records were born!
How did you all first meet?
TVR: Three of us were in the same school back in our home town and we met Cherry (vocalist) after we moved to Delhi.
What does music mean to you?
TVR: When we play music we are in our own wonderland. Music is a medium of self-expression to us it’s our food!
In a previous interview TVR have commented “An all-girl band comes with a lot of ups and downs” can you elaborate on this and give us examples of some of ups and downs you’ve experienced?
TVR: Yes, entirely. There’s that notion first that if there’s a rock band then it’s usually guys, and if it’s all girls will they live up to the expectation, so lot of people are actually curious since you don’t really come across too many girls that play the guitar and play the drums! It’s hard to beat the gender stereotype of women coming out and doing things within our society that has traditionally been relegated to men. However, things are changing slowly and gradually as the music scene in India is going through a phase where musicians are experimenting with different styles and genres. Keeping the present scenario in mind, we are taking advantage of our artistic freedom and people are now getting quite used to the idea of having bands with female musicians in them!
Who are your female heroes? What is it about them that you love?
TVR: We look up to girl bands like CSS for their avant-garde element. Sahara Hotnights and The Donnas are the modern Riot Grrrls to us & Joan Jett is simply sexy! Women like Irom Sharmila (Iron lady of Manipur), Aung San Suu Kyi, Tongam Rina (reporter Arunachal Times) because they are fearless and they have the guts to stand for what they believe in.
Do you consider yourselves feminists? What does feminism mean to TVR?
TVR: Yes, we do. Feminism for us would be standing on our own, not taking shit from others.
What are some things that are important to TVR?
TVR: We love performing on stage every time as a band and we wouldn’t like to be labelled as any stereotyped band either. TVR Our spirit of sisterhood binds us together and we love to spread that through our music!
What projects are TVR currently focused on?
TVR: We are recording our OCs and we will be playing the Ziro festival of music this September. This will be our debut gig in our own state, Arunachal Pradesh.
What are your songs inspired by? Do you find reoccurring themes filter through into your songs?
TVR: Umm…It’s about anything that comes to us in a day’s experience or whatever comes across as interesting. At the end of the day, we derive inspiration from anything from movies, characters from books, a visit to a new place, or any incident or issue that grabs our attention…just random things, even aliens and cows that sit on the road side pavements!
What are your favourite songs to play live?
TVR: Currently we love one of our new OC Apocryphal.
Tell us about your favourite TVR show you’ve ever played.
TVR: It will be difficult for us to make a particular choice on this but guess we loved the Mumbai audience last year at the Stuppidities launch.
How would you describe the clothes you wear on stage? Is it important to you?
TVR: We don’t follow any fancy trend while choosing our outfits, each one of us has a different style, and when we come together as a band our style amalgates appealing to the people…which kind of compliments our music too. We all love playing dress up!
What is ‘beauty’ to you?
TVR: Beauty means a pure and happy soul.
What’s something you would really like to do one day?
TVR: Coming up with an awesome album and playing with our favourite band CSS.
For more The Vinyl Records.
Photos: 1 – Amaan Ali Khan / 3 – Sujay Das