Interview with Lifafa
Peter Cat Recording Co have a longstanding history of not giving a fuck. The New Delhi hemp jazz outfit is perhaps the most experimental band in the country, but they do what they do so well, they get away with it. In tradition with the Peter Cat way of doing what everyone least expects you to, frontman Suryakanth Sawhney recently unveiled a solo electronic project titled Lifafa. I called him up to investigate.
What is Lifafa?
I’ve done a bunch of shit last year and then just decided to select some of the stuff I liked and that’s it, really. There’s no…, it’s not a concept album or anything like that.
Where were these tracks produced?
All over the place I guess; home, some one tour, some outside, some in cafes. There’s no strict regiment. At this point I was so inexperienced… It was more of a learning album, it was not like… I’ve listened to so little electronic in my life, I could literally just give you like five, six artists and that’s all I’ve listened to while making this album. It just happened to mix up with a lot of other stuff I was listening to; other types of music, classical music, shit like that. I guess I just wanted to see what I could make out of it.
And it’s really hot in Delhi so I guess I should have made angrier music… Thing is electronic music is really easy to make in Delhi. When it gets hot, you can turn the AC on and you can just fucking sit down on the computer and work on music, you can’t record anything in summer in Delhi. You’re gonna be drenched in sweat in fifteen seconds.
While composing, is there any non-musical influence that permeates into your work?
Yeah, that happens plenty of times. I watch a movie, I hear maybe ten seconds of something interesting and I’ll feel like making a track.
Can you give me an example?
I was watching Agneepath and I just stopped the movie ten minutes in because I heard a cool piece of music and I just started working on something. It’s kind of.. There’s no strict methodology to doing any of this. It’s a lot of trial and error. I do electronic music because you can translate what’s in your head much easier.
Do you have a plan for Lifafa?
All these songs, I guess, kind of… I just needed to get these out of my system because I’m still looking for some sort of direction in my electronic music. A lot of it hardly sounds like… they don’t have any cohesion, it’s just a lot of messing around in different genres so at this point, I don’t know in which direction I am headed but I’m definitely not just gonna fuck around or sidetrack it. I want to take it live at least so whatever I make should have the fucking ability to be played live.
Have you conceptualized a rough live set-up for Lifafa?
I do have a rough set-up in mind. It may or may not include a… I think it will include a computer. I like this very simple method of having a drum machine and a synth, I guess a two piece, maximum. And my idea is to figure out how to do it alone, basically, that’ll be really fun for me. I just don’t want to be on stage rolling a joint while music’s playing. I’m still figuring out duties in this. It’s such a bizarre thing to do, goddamn electronic music, figuring out how not to look like an idiot.
Did you consider DJing?
Actually I did, but the problem is I don’t listen to enough music. I don’t sit my ass down and go, ‘I’m gonna find 100,000 progressive house artists’ or shit like that. I just don’t. I don’t give a fuck. I listen to maybe like, ten people in a year and I usually try and keep them far from the type of music I make just so I don’t end up mixing up much but… I can’t DJ for the simple reason that I don’t have enough of a… I don’t give a fuck. I guess there’s a lot of effort being a DJ in its own way. I just don’t know if I want to spend my time going through the Internet looking for more music ‘cause that eats up a lot of time.
Did anything in particular spark the conception of Lifafa?
Most of the time people make the music… I think because mostly they just want to hear whatever they’ve made in terms of… I go to a club and I don’t like what’s played in most clubs… That kind of would influence me to make club music, which I’d like to listen to. So at the very least, I could go to a fucking club, put this music on, listen to it, enjoy myself and… I guess in Lifafa, although let’s see. In Lifafa it was both… There was a lot of stuff I liked from before and I was trying to mix that up with stuff I like now and stuff, which I might like in the future. I don’t know. It was interesting. It was a technique-forming album, you know what I mean? I needed to figure this shit out, because I’ve only recorded live music all my life.
Will Lifafa ever have anything to do with Peter Cat?
I think Lifafa will eventually be a part of a long Peter Cat evening, you know what I mean? Starting at… What I really fucking hate is playing a nice one-hour, two-hour set and then a goddamn DJ comes and everyone’s just dancing and enjoying the fuck outta themselves and you’re just sitting there and drinking. That’s depressing as fuck. The solution for that for me is to actually take over the guy’s job as well. So I think the endgame would be to create a six to eight hour entertainment thing, you know what I mean? Out of that we have Peter Cat till now, and hopefully Lifafa, and my bandmates are doing their own thing. So we’re just trying to create a long evening with the four of us, we’ll just keep playing nonstop.
written by Ritwik Deshpande