ARTIST INTERVIEW: Duality
What’s the name of your band? What’s the origin of that name? Have you changed the band’s name before?
Manoj: We are ‘DUALITY’. We are an Acoustic Rock Duo based in Chennai. Most folks think we call ourselves DUALITY because of the obvious: we are 2 guys, 2 guitars, 2 voices & 1 perspective-Music.
Mihir: We chose the name ‘DUALITY’ because we’re both very different people. I’m trying to remember if that was, in fact, the reason! This is the first name we picked and it clicked.
How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
Mihir: We’ve known each other for about 7 years. We met through a common friend and then got in touch on Facebook.
When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
Manoj: DUALITY was formed in 2011. When we started out, we were just having regular jamming sessions, playing our favourite songs. It’s only when we started writing our own songs that we realised that we were coming up with Music that worked with audiences all over. That realisation was cemented when people began asking us where they could buy & listen to our music. To date, we have released 2 albums-‘The First Born’ (2013) and ‘Keep the Change’ (2016).
What are your musical icons/influences?
Manoj: Deep Purple, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Rush, Alice in Chains are some of the bands that have had a huge influence on my music. Among icons- James Hetfield of Metallica. Ritchie Blackmore & Joe Satriani are my Guitar Heroes.
Mihir: There are too many to list here, but I think if I had to name an icon, I’d say Mike Patton from Faith No More. Then of course, as a rock/metal fan I’d have to say, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Mikael Akerfeldt, all the guys in Iron Maiden, Dave Mustaine, all the guys in Death, Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, Alice in Chains. See? The list just is long and doesn’t end here. I am inspired by music icons and influences outside rock too, like Bjork. Growing up I was a huge fan of the Bee Gees and spent hours in the shower singing their harmonies.
Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues?
Manoj: In 6 years, we’ve performed a total of 72 gigs across several popular venues in Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Kochi, Kumarakom, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Hyderabad & Mumbai. We are the only band that’s performed exclusively for ‘Comic Con India’ at Bangalore in 2012 & 2014. We’ve also performed for ’TEDxYouth@Chennai’ in 2011; several brand/store launches and have performed on ‘Music Mojo’ by Kappa TV as well. We’ve had so many memorable gigs in different cities- hard to pick one as a favourite.
Mihir: There are no least favourite venues. If you’re featuring us we love you already. Jokes apart, the one kind of gig I’d rather not do is a ‘Valentine’s day’ gig. Don’t like performing love songs.
Which songs do you perform most frequently?
Mihir: We have our favourites from our own set list. We usually open with our title track ‘Duality’. We love closing sets with our most popular track ‘Crusader’- a tribute to Batman, also a favourite among fans and friends.
Do you ever play any covers?
Manoj: Of course we do. But we do it our way.
Mihir: I personally enjoy myself a great deal when we cover Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledge Hammer’. We do that one at most of our gigs. I would love to do more covers of ‘Alice in Chains’ because of those fantastic vocal harmonies. Who doesn’t love paying tribute to their icons?
Who writes your songs?
Mihir: We both do. We work on the lyrics together and we add our own personal touch(es) to each of our songs.
What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?
DUALITY has covered themes like superheroes, icons and stories from popular culture. We have also done songs about personal stuff like love and loss. The themes are bound to change. We hope they do. That’s a sign that we are not stuck in a rut conceptually.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Mihir: We try to keep it as natural as possible. More often than not it starts with a catchy riff! The riff sets a mood or even a story without words, a few jams later we usually have the structure and vocal melodies figured out. The lyrics fall in place after a little brainstorming. That’s usually the how it works for us.
Manoj: Yeah, that’s how it’s been. Most of our songs have been the result of several jamming sessions, throwing musical ideas around. Some songs have been written individually entirely and most others have been written together. Some songs fell into place very quick and some have taken over a year to get it right.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
Mihir: I’d like to think our music has evolved. We understand the challenges of being an acoustic duo with every gig and every new song. Over time, I feel our songwriting process has matured. The songs are a little shorter and punchier than when we first started out.
Manoj: I like the way our music has progressed and I guess it’ll only go further from here. The musical direction & progress can be felt when you listen to our albums.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Mihir: The biggest challenge is convincing people that as an acoustic duo, we can hold our own on stage without drums and bass. Once we’re done with our set, the audience is convinced and even pleasantly surprised.
Manoj: Very true! And that’s why we’ve ended up playing at the same venues, more than once.
What is your favourite song to perform?
(Together) – Crusader!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard from a fan at a concert?
Manoj: There was this guy at one of our gigs in Bangalore who came to us and handed over a scale down model of a Bike as a token of appreciation. When asked why, he said that he enjoyed our ‘Batman’ song very much and he wanted to offer the bike model to us. It was a surprisingly strange moment for me.
Mihir: This guy at a gig was hell bent on wanting to ‘Shake my hand’ while I was playing a Guitar solo!
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
Mihir: Enjoy what you’re doing.
Manoj: Do your own thing.
How do you feel about the internet in the music business?
Mihir: It is a blessing of course. The kind of reach you can get through social media platforms is phenomenal.
Manoj: Thank you internet. DUALITY exists because of you!
How did you get involved with the Comic Book Culture?
Manoj: Both of us have been fans of comics, graphic novels & comic art. Pop culture & art has been significant to Duality’s music. Our song for Batman- ‘Crusader’ is what got us noticed in the first place and landed us our gigs for Comic Con India. We continued that trend with ‘Mastermind’- a tribute to Sherlock Holmes. Both of our albums feature graphic artwork by Mihir who is also a designer by profession. While I collect comics & have a good collection of them by several publishers, Mihir is more into graphic novels, sci-fi books and manga. He is also a die-hard fan of anime. Mihir has also illustrated a 4-page comic which was included in ‘The Obliterary Journal Vol.2′ by Blaft Publications’.
Any new music artist/ song you guys like?
Mihir: Rather than new music I’d say a discovery. I’ve been really into this Norwegian Rock band named ‘Motorpsycho’.
How does the 2017 calendar look for Duality?
Manoj: We just completed 6 years of performing ‘Live Music’ on March 5th and recently performed back to back gigs in Pondicherry. We perform next on March 24th in Bangalore at the ‘Rewind Restobar’. After a gap of 3 years, we’re back in Bangalore to perform for the 7th time and we’ve planned quite an interesting bunch of songs and are pretty excited about the gig. More gigs in the pipeline and will be announced, all in good time.
Can we expect an album themed around comics?
Manoj: That sounds interesting. I don’t think we’ve thought about something like that yet and can’t say if something like that will ever happen. But you never know. If it does, rest assured, you guys will definitely hear about it first!
Any artist out there you would love to collaborate with?
Manoj: Our second album ‘Keep the Change’ had two collaborations. On one track, we collaborated with our good friend Marti Bharat of the leading electronic act ‘Sapta’ to produce an instrumental titled ‘Achilles’- based on the Greek Mythological Hero.
On another track titled ‘Shut Up!’– An anger anthem of sorts, we collaborated with ace comic artist Abhijeet Kini, who gladly agreed to commission an exclusive artwork of ‘Angry Maushi’ which featured in the song’s music video. Shot by our good friend Srinath R.S, the music video was put together by filmmaker Nandhini J.S , who is the creator of the graphic novel ‘The Girl with the Red Nose Ring’ and had also directed our previous music video ‘The First Born’. The song also featured several vocal & video contributions from many of our friends, families and fans. A huge thank you to everybody! We are open to future collaborations and we’ll have to see with who or what that might turn out to be!
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