• Sat, Oct 31, 2020
Features

Aaryan Banthia Takes It Way Back To Simpler Times

interviews Sep 01, 04:30pm

His new single ‘Hey Betty’ has no pretensions about its ease and innocence

Here’s a combination of words you don’t hear as often as you used to: country-pop love song. The new single from Mumbai-based guitarist and singer-songwriter Aaryan Banthia, ‘Hey Betty’, is that. Considering the countless twists and turns music has gone through since the 80s and early 90s, some elements of these genres, especially treated in this way, sound unfamiliar. Sure, Bollywood has kept old-school romantic forms alive somewhat through its never-ending barrage of love songs, but the whole tender and slow-paced music thing? The careful and sparse use of instrumentation, the extremely simple subject matter and the drawn out tearjerker solos? Well, Aaryan has made the call to write in that vein (and act in the song’s music video while he’s at it), and he’s good at it. ‘Hey Betty’ is quite the interesting listen.

Aaryan is a talented guitarist and writes with it, so ‘Hey Betty’ is all about the chords and the solos and the old-school vibe. His vocals are relatively sweet and solid, the production on the track is squeaky clean, and the track is structurally simple. But even if the track is great at what it does (and whether you like it or not), its existence and acknowledgement of its genre is what is most interesting. In these times (and rightly so) music has become so many things; a call to action, a commentary medium far better at conveying opinions than youtube comments, a means to show rage towards the system, a way to brag and countless other things. It’s an odd and surprisingly sweet experience to hear a song like ‘Hey Betty’ and remember a time long past; a time when you had simple guitars and a nice solo; when young love and just giving simple words to feelings was a thing. That’s where the song really lives.

We spoke to Aaryan about his musical journey and the present time.

 

 

Growing up and attending school in different places in the 2000s, what was everyone around you listening to and what influences did you get from your age group at the time?

School days are where it all starts. You tend to develop a certain taste of music. I have been to three different schools, one being The Lawrence School, Lovedale, Ooty. It was in Lawrence (a boarding s

School) that I started playing the guitar and picking up songs I loved. I used to listen to a lot of Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, Metallica, Linkin Park and guitarists like Paul Gilbert and Joe Satriani to name a few. In school even though I'd won a competition or two for singing, I was pretty much a self-proclaimed ‘guitarist only’. I loved picking up solos and the first song I composed (not professionally released) was a guitar instrumental. I still have a bias towards it.

 

Mark Knopfler was an influence for you in terms of taking up the guitar. Are there any other notable guitarists that have influenced you technically and emotionally? How important do you consider the guitar as a song writing tool for you?

Mark Knopfler is the reason I picked up the guitar. I watched Dire Straits' greatest live concert ever ‘On The Night’ and was infatuated with the instrument almost immediately. At the time, a few guitarists that really moved me and influenced me were Richie Sambora, Slash, Eric Clapton and Paul Gilbert. My bias towards the guitar is audible in all of my music. It's my primary instrument when I sit down to compose. I don't think there is a better instrument to write songs.  

 

“My bias towards the guitar is audible in all of my music. It's my primary instrument when I sit down to compose. I don't think there is a better instrument to write songs. ”
-Aaryan

 

How did performing in the pub and venue circuit help you as a live musician?

My career started from the stage and live music for which I'm grateful. It taught me a lot about live sound and mixing a live band. Most importantly the stage gave me experience and exposure.

 

Considering 'Hey Betty' has come out in the middle of COVID, have you been finding it difficult to get music made and write during this time?

Yes, times are tough. However, I am glad that I have found some time to make music for my fans. Although I miss the stage a lot now, one has to live with it till things come back to normal. During lockdown, I have also found my passion for film scoring and have scored for a few films as well. In fact, I have really started to feel at home with it. 

 

You are in the video and are involved in every facet of the song's creative side; do you find having control over all these choices liberating or is it more of a challenge when all of it is on you?

I feel that having control is a good thing and I love being involved in everything. In fact, during the process you learn various aspects of it; also at the end of the day, it's your song and your responsibility. That being said, having a good video production team definitely helps a lot. You need to brainstorm with like-minded people to get the best product out for your song.

 

 

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