Two years ago, Harish and yours truly were inspired by someone whose every utterance enriches the creative commons of Indian culture. We decided to call ourselves Parodesy Noise, which to Tamil ears sounds like an American way of saying “Canines from across the ocean” and also suggests, at the same time, a focus on parody while musically remixing things many people consider must not be remixed.
Now, for the first time, I am going to take you through the creative process behind our latest single. For me, Parodesy Noise is what comes out of a heartfelt joy I experience when losing myself in the creative process. It’s not the relevance, popularity or artistic class of the output that matters as much as how much fun I had while combining humour and music.
The band is a three-man duo, with Harish, yours truly and T Rajendar (a.k.a TR) in spirit.
TR is a manly man’s man. He is a Renaissance man. He can act, sing, compose, dance, direct, edit and be the spot boy all at the same time. With his hair, he could have been the fifth Beatle. Heck, with his talent, he could have been the entire Beatles. And with his girth, he could have been the car as well. He can mime and he can rhyme. He can drop beats like B52s drop bunker busters . He is the only man other than Eminem to have successfully rhymed with “Orange”.
“Hey my flower girl in orange-u,
I am the right man for your range-u”.
He can also rhyme with “angst”.
“I am feeling full of angst,
my tailor has badly stitched my panst”.
He has a degree, not in mass communication, but the communication of his mass to a mass audience via televangelistic mass. When he preaches from his pulpit, the world pauses and reflects on its own lifeless mediocrity. He puts the BA and MA in Bombast. He is the fifth estate, the sixth sense, seventh heaven, eighth wizard and the ninth planet.
When TR is angry, he makes enough API calls to the Creative Commons repository to bring Amazon’s US-east-1 cloud down. He is cross-cultural, pan-dimensional, post-modern and anti-establishment.
But more than anything else, he is a self-aware target of his fans’ jokes, a model self-deprecatory and self-sustaining cultural chain reaction that is at once critical, fantastic and explosive. When we laugh at him, we are laughing at ourselves. While religious figures die on the cross for our sins, TR lives at the crossroads, a prophet helping us atone for the sin of having no sense of humour. We laugh at him because we are too stuck up to express ourselves and too proud to laugh at ourselves.
So when TR unleashed this I felt that it was time to recreate the Indian equivalent of the East-coast, West-coast rap battle in the US, except that this would be about the schism between the english speaking elite of this country and, in the words of the prophet, those who do not want to put bombastic words in front of the downtrodden people.
This wasn’t the first time TR spoke about how unique the Indian constitution was, so in the interest of constructing a rap song that built up in intensity, we combined both these speeches into a single cohesive flow.
What we needed now is something within these speeches that would serve as a chorus and we picked this
Why we did that will become clear soon.
The next thing we needed is a looped beat. The hallmark of good hip hop is the single looped bassline and beat that repeats pretty much all through the song. The idea is that it needs to get out of TR’s way while paving his path with flowers, if you will. Harish came up with this.
If you can picture TR strutting down the street to that beat with his homies while imperceptibly nodding his head to its cadence, Harish would have done his job well.
Then came the keyboard layer and we thought long and hard about going with something synthesized, like the epic Clavinet loop that makes up Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, but with TR comes mass and with mass comes gravity and with that, gravitas, which left us with only that most magnificent of keyboard instruments, a grand piano. Having heard enough Snoop and Dre songs for inspiration, the keyboard loop we settled on was this
Now, let’s hear the beat and the keyboards together.
Yeah, now we are cookin’. But you see, music, like painting is about the manipulation of space. Just as a painter fills up canvas space with paint, a composer fills up sonic space with sound. When the piano plays that sustained C note at the start before that descending chord, there is space that can be filled with another instrument, and the indubitable Harish picked the Celesta because it goes with the celestial nature of our prophet.
And now most importantly, the bassline. We needed a bassline that put the kind of funk that allows you to picture the prophet closing his eyes, biting his lips and exercising his pelvic region to the rhythm of this beat in a low amplitude chilled out frequency kind of way.
So, let’s layer that vocal phrase we picked as the chorus over this keyboard + bassline + beat
Now do you see why we picked that phrase up? With just a little bit of time stretching, it fits in perfectly with the beat.
So like Yama needs Chitragupta, a TR song needs a guitar solo, and we took inspiration from a TR of the past – TyagaRaja.
And finally, the cover artwork. TR’s commanding knowledge of constitutions meant that the only visual that could do him justice was the signing of the American constitution
But why need so many people when TR could handle it all by himself. So we have
Well, in the words of Kamal Hassan, we added a few Maaneys, Theneys and Ponmaneys (their rap equivalents) and got the brilliant Navneeth Balachander to mix and master the song and here it is, for your thoughtful consideration
Categories: Auspicious Ganesha Squiggly