Vinayak Karthikayan's Comeback Album Invites You To Release Your Inner Monkey

Andar Bandar
Andar BandarVinayak Karthikayan

It was way back in 2013 that Chennai-based electronic music producer, Vinayak Karthikayan, released his last track. It was a dance music EP called Set Her Free, remixed by Martin Buttrich and licensed by John Digweed’s renowned recording label Bedrock, which promotes mixes and remixes from the world’s best producers. After its release, it seemed that Vinayak had dropped from the face of Earth.

However that was not the case. Even though Vinayak had not released anything for years, he spent that time honing his craft. He practiced in his home studio, recording over 300 songs without thinking about releasing or promoting them. During that time he had also been playing several gigs in clubs across Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Guwahati to earn a livelihood. In the span of ten years, he was constantly experimenting to find new and unique ways to produce. The fruits of the labor of the last decade have all culminated in his recently released album — Andar Bandar.

With his latest release, Vinayak, after a decade of hibernation, has once again burst into the limelight with renewed gusto, perspective, and new approaches to his artistry. In a candid interview with Homegrown, the talented veteran electronica producer shared details about his new album, his inspirations, and much more.

What genre would you classify your album Andar Bandar?

There are so many genres nowadays and I do not want to box my work into any particular genre. While listening to the album, one can find elements of electronica, ambient, and drum n bass all coming together. But if I had to pick one genre, I would call it an electronic album.

The album’s cover art thoroughly intrigued me. Could you share the story behind its conception?

The artist behind Andar Bandar’s cover art is none other than professional graphic designer and close friend, Steve Mukunthan. Like me, he is also a Chennai-based artist. I told him that the cover art should reflect the idea that inside (andar) all of us, there are bandars (monkeys). It is all about releasing that inner monkey. For ten years, I was inside my house and recording studio, monkeying around. That’s where the album name comes from and that’s what I wanted the cover art to portray. I do not like to give too many instructions to a visual artist. I just shared two or three lines about the album’s idea with Steve and let him work his magic.

Is it a concept album?

That’s an interesting question. I have never really put much thought into that. But yes, I definitely think that the album is like a storybook. Just like each chapter leads onto the next one, each song is a continuation, building up to the next one.

What audio tools did you use to create this album?

The idea from the very beginning was to keep it simple. Simplicity is underrated and that’s what I’ve tried to emulate. To delve into the technicalities, I have used the Minimoog Voyager XL synthesizer and the Midas M32 Digital Console, which are the centerpieces of my recording studio.

Each title of the song is quite unique and different from each other. Could you tell us more about that?

I believe in giving freedom to the listener. What they make of the title or the track is up to them. But let me tell you a little bit about the track Tagore Said It. As we are from Jamshedpur, where my parents still reside, growing up, Tagore’s poetry and literature greatly influenced me. I love Rabindra Sangeet. As I went into my teen years, I moved away from all that and wanted to venture into “cooler” rock music. But now that I am older, I realize that life circles back and I have renewed appreciation for Rabindra Sangeet. Tagore Said It is a homage to that.

Who are some of your inspirations?

Ah! There are so many but if I had to name a few, it’d be Pink Floyd, Trentemøller, and Solar Fields.

Is there a project are you currently working on or have a project in mind for the near future?

In 1996-97, when I was in school, I heard the album OK by the legendary percussionist from the UK, Talvin Singh. I have always been inspired by his artistry. In 2016, when we met for the first time, it felt like two long-lost brothers reuniting. I consider it a blessing to be working with him currently. We are in no rush and are letting the creative process follow its own pace. I can say that our current project is aging like fine wine and when the listeners finally taste it, they are sure to be happy.

You can listen to the album Andar Bandar below.

The album is also streaming on TIDAL, Spotify and for the first time ever, Vinayak has released his work on Bandcamp, as well.

Find out more about Vinayak Karthikayan here.