Catch Up With When Chai Met Toast, The Band Capturing The Spirit of Happiness

Think When Chai Met Toast, think feel-good music. This Kerala-based indie folk/alternative rock band has been giving us music that has consistently been upbeat and just overall fun. The band consists of vocalist Ashwin Gopakumar, guitarist Achyuth Jaigopal, keyboard player Palee Francis and drummer Pai Sailesh. Their songs may sound effortless, but bringing together different languages and hitting the right kind of emotion is no mean feat. This niche gives them a contemporary edge in the independent music scene.

Like many of us here, we’re excited to watch them perform live at IndieGaga in Kochi on the 21st of January. We chatted quickly with When Chai Met Toast, and you might want to check this conversation out.

You have produced predominantly ‘happy music,’ as people would tag it. Was it a coincidence, or is this a strategic decision, i.e., to build a niche and grow your work in this happy zone? 

We think that music reflects the kind of people we are! If you’ve ever interacted with us, you’ll know this is true. We always believe in expressing ourselves in the most honest way possible, and it turns out we are a bunch of happy-go-lucky human beings who believe in the little things in life, like love, heartbreak, family, relationships, and more. 

Many indie bands, such as Avial and Indian Ocean, have occasionally forayed into music direction for mainstream films. Is that something you are looking forward to? 

Yes, – probably not music direction for a whole film but as individual songs – most definitely. We are working on 2-3 songs for mainstream films/ series. As long as the song falls under the palette of our sound and we retain a lot of the creative freedom, it is something we aren’t averse to taking up. That being said, our priority remains writing and to produce our singles, EPs, and albums. 

Has the pandemic created a change in the way you perceive your art? 

The pandemic did bring about contrasting situations in our lives, and these experiences have impacted us as individuals and have contributed to the music we write. The two years also gave us plenty of time for introspection, exploring new ideas, learning, and dabbling into other fields that interest us. 

The way audiences perceive music also changed during the pandemic, with a notable rise in the consumption of independent music in India and many concerts after live shows resumed. 

What’s the best thing about performing a live set?

The sheer energy, adrenaline, and happiness that overflows during a live set are unmatchable to any other feeling we experience. We started as a live act rather than a bedroom project, so everything ended with us being on stage singing to 1000s of people and them singing back to us. To know what we are talking about – try coming for a gig of ours, and you’ll know… Better experienced than said! 

What music do you all like to listen to?

We have quite contrasting tastes in the music we listen to. In common, lately we’ve been listening to the new The 1975 and Taylor Swift albums. We also love Coldplay and were lucky to experience their gig live when we were in London earlier this year! 

Since you started, how have you evolved as a band? While it’s important to keep your root consistent, we’re sure you’ve had to keep up with your evolving audience. How have you kept your core element intact while raising the bar with each drop?

We’ve grown gracefully, is what we’d like to believe, Each day is a learning curve for us, and we accept that with both hands out wide. Let it be songwriting, audio production, visual content, or the Live element of the band, we’ve been learning with each song we write, each song we produce, each song we shoot, or each show we pull off live. The best part is all of us are not stopping until we have the whole world listening to us and dancing to our tunes, so that drive keeps us going, wanting to learn new aspects as a band but still not forgetting where we came from. 

Lyrically, since you cover various languages, how do you decide which language a song should be written in? Does that call to get taken after composing?

This varies. Usually, it happens in the initial songwriting process, where we start writing in a certain language or have an intuition that a section might sound best in a certain language. At other times, we write the complete song in one language (usually English) and then feel that the melody might sound nicer in a different language, so we try that out. Ultimately, the decision is just about what language best conveys the song’s emotion.  

How excited are you to perform at IndieGaga? What are you looking forward to at the event? And which band/musicians are you excited to strike up a conversation over there?

Very, very excited. Kochi is where it all started for us, and it’s very special to come back after a long gap to perform at the hometown of 3/4th of WCMT. We’re very stoked about the lineup, and it is very different from the previous editions of IndieGaga, so I’m sure it’ll be a new experience for everyone attending.

We’re looking forward to everyone’s set – not picking names. A lot of the other performing acts are also friends, and we’re sure it will be one fun night. Our family, friends and the larger music community will be there, making it all the more special. 

How’s 2023 looking for you all?

2022 was a great year, and we are very grateful for that. We did our first UK tour, represented India at the F1 Singapore Grand Prix, and a lot more. 

This New year looks promising, with a new set of songs coming out in early 2023, 2-3 Bollywood songs that are yet to release, and also planning to travel to play live in different countries with our music and a lot more in-store. ‘Fingers crossed’! 

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Aishwarya Gopinath
A foodie at heart, an aspiring novelist, and an enthusiastic writer by nature, I love to dig deep into culture and lifestyle of the place and people around me. I hope to make people cry, laugh, smile, angry, and satisfied with my writing.

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