Ainthinai is the latest addition to the growing tribe of indie bands from Kerala. The five-member acoustic band recently launched their debut single, ‘Vaasam pesum’, a Tamil number.
‘Ainthinai’ is the concept of five geographical landscapes mentioned in Sangam literature – kurinji (hills), mullai (forests), paalai (desert or dry regions), marudam (crop land) and neithal (coastal terrain). “Our songs are about people, environment, flora and fauna, soil, culture…. We wanted a name connected with that. Also, it had to be a title that would make people think. That is how we zeroed in on Ainthinai,” explains Athul Subrahmanyan, lead vocalist, bass guitarist and lyricist of the band.
Other members of the band are Cebe Babu (lead guitar), Rahul R Shenoy (cajon), Sarath M (violin) and Thomas Poulose (rhythm guitar).
Opting for Tamil
The band sings in Tamil. “We agree that the language is poetic and that aspect resonates with the themes of our songs. We are confident that listeners will be able to understand the content because the lyrics are simple,” says Athul.
Nine more songs are ready for release. ‘Vaasam pesum’ is about love. ‘Sirikkanam’ is on smiles, ‘Thaaye’ is dedicated to motherhood, ‘Manithan’ exhorts humans to break free from oppression and ‘Ooru’ is a travel song. ‘Vazhkai’ celebrates the beauty of earth. ‘Vidu’ is a call for freedom.
Thomas adds: “The output is better when we have Tamil lyrics. Also, we needed a folkish sound for our music and that comes across in Tamil. Original content is getting more acceptance these days, especially with social media giving a platform for artists to promote their work.”
The fivesome had met in music circles of Kochi. They started jamming together and performed at cafes in and around Kochi. The dream was to form an acoustic band and do independent productions. “We played both original songs and covers. We were surprised by the appreciation we got for the originals,” says Rahul. The group makes special note of Shiyas MM, who supported them by letting them play at his dine-in place at Aluva, which they still do. “We started working more on our own songs. After a gig at a cafe at Kakkanad, our confidence was on a high. We realised that we were on the right track,” says Sarath.
The pandemic and lockdown brought everything to a standstill, including their practice sessions at Aluva, where most of the members hail from. However, once the restrictions were lifted they regrouped with a plan.
“We knew that nobody was going to reach out to us in that scenario. So we decided to approach cafes in and around Kochi looking for opportunities to perform. Being an acoustic band, we just had to walk in with our instruments,” says Rahul. “We had confidence in our music, but did not know how to go about promoting it. The only option was looking for a space to present our work,” adds Cebe.
That decision struck gold. At Edam Art Café they had a chance meeting with singer Sithara Krishnakumar, one of the partners of the café. The same evening, she introduced them to artist/event management team of Wonderwall Media, which manages her and other leading bands/musicians such as Thaikkudam Bridge, Agam/Harish Sivaramakrishnan, Karthik and Sachin Warrier, among others. “They listened to our songs and took us on board. Our life turned upside down that day,” says Cebe. They did two shows at Bolgatty, Kochi and one at Kovalam in Thiruvanathapuram.
The group is also looking at promoting a new music culture. Before every important gig, they plant a sapling at the venue. They plan to hold music workshops. “There are areas where people have not seen music instruments at all. So we intend to interact with them and show the musical instruments or teach them how to play. We also want to take something from their music culture,” says Athul.
On what keeps them together, Cebe says, “We have personal preferences when it comes to music and creative differences when we sit down to compose. But, after a point, we always reach a consensus. There is something special that binds us, like a family.”
Listen to ‘Vaasam pesum’ on YouTube and Spotify.