By Rituparna Sengupta Basu
He is a musician based in Mumbai, born on 27 June 1975 in Kerala, and also an actor worked in few television shows. He formed A Band of Boys along with Karan Oberoi, Sudhanshu Pandey, Siddharth Haldipur and Chaitnya Bhosale which is India ‘s First and only Boy Band. Yes, we are talking about the musician Sherrin Varghese. In a quick chat, he shares his love and passion for music.
Expresso: You were an engineer. What prompted you to get into the music industry or DJing? Did you always want to be a musician?
Sherrin: They say an engineer can build anything. A lot of what I do now is a great blend of engineering and art. Music is math & running a studio means you need to have an acute knowledge of sound which is physics & a lot of music production now is, additive, subtractive & modular synthesis with oscillators which is as engineering as engineering can get.
Music has always been there with me throughout my life in terms of school church, choir, rock bands etc., and moving up in life it was the most natural choice during my engineering days as the relief which I found in pursuing music compared to the terrible education system that our country had in terms of professional studies then was painful to me. I think education in our country now has gone miles ahead of what it was then. Don’t get me wrong I love engineering, just don’t think it is imparted or taught well in our country.
Also, I got really lucky with Movers & Shakers on Sony Entertainment Television falling into my lap during my third year of B.E. Mechanical, while pursuing amateur rock bands on the side, as that opportunity helped me quit Engineering as a career & look at music as a full-time profession.
Expresso: How would you describe your journey of music over the years?
Sherrin: My journey over the years has been a rollercoaster ride and I’m so glad it has not been any other way. I have been musically associated with albums, singles, films, television, theatre, voice-overs, jingles & curations in our country. I think the only thing that I’ve not done in music is teaching which I don’t think I have the patience for and I feel lucky to be part of a generation which has seen music evolving from cassettes, CDs, albums, singles, pen-drives, downloads and now streaming.
This is technically my 3rd innings and I feel lucky that I have got immense respect as a singer, performer, songwriter, musician, music producer and now as the owner of intellectual property. I take pride in the knowledge that I could be leaving a digital legacy for my children to benefit from.
Expresso: Tell us something about A Band of Boys? How did it change your life?
Sherrin: A Band of Boys changed the life of all the members in it. To be part of India’s 1st & only boy band has been a privilege, honour, & extremely gratifying and I feel that we were all very lucky to have got this opportunity during the 10-year golden era of India-pop in our country.
Prior to that, I had the history of Movers & Shakers as a singer and when that show got over I switched over to television as a lead actor in soap operas and when this opportunity came which would help me pursue music again & chisel myself as an extremely fine-tuned singer, performer, host, musician, dancer & actor, I grabbed it by its roots & have never looked back ever since!
Expresso: What made you think about creating bollytronica- a new genre of music, Electronica and original Indie music?
Sherrin: To be honest, the name Bollytronica was a marketing gimmick and was coined using two major genres of music in our country, Bollywood & Electronica. There is a clichéd, niche, Indie music segment in our country which is very happy with its own well and there is a mass hysteria towards Bollywood amongst the rest of the country. I wanted to capitalize on both the worlds, so decided to fuse the two and while at it decided to call it also my own genre. The fact that the material from this album was Raag based melodic hook lines on a bed of Electronic Dance Music seemed to make it sound nicely appropriate.
Expresso: What is your favourite song from your album?
Sherrin: Adipoli & Baadal. From 2008 to 2013 during the time when there was a slump in the market & Bollywood killed all India-pop artists, I took up to producing music on my own and started as a bedroom producer & as a laptop musician. Over the years of fine-tuning & learning how to do it solely from the internet, the odd ad film & the corporate anthem jobs fine-tuned my own brand of music, to such an extent that when the time came to release my solo debut, I pioneered a new sound “Mallu-dubstep” & genre “Bollytronica” for my solo-debut “Adipoli” in my native language Malayalam, which became a runaway success in the south.
Coming back from there, I released “Baadal” an organic -electronic piece of soul in Hindi which was a song that took 4 years to release as that project was my experimental playground for chiselling my music production skills. The learning that I did on this song for those years helped me to constantly evolve & crusade my own sonic signature.
Expresso: You look so cool with your bald look & tattoo. Is there any special reason for choosing this particular look?
Sherrin: Thank you. In 2005 I had a job with Zee sports in Delhi as a sports jockey and the change in water, environment and food triggered my hair fall. To counter this in 2008 I underwent a hair transplant, where one takes hair from the back of your scalp and kneads it on the forehead and appropriate areas where it starts showing male pattern baldness. This look worked for me quite well for about 5-6 years and I trudged on with Minoxidil injections on my scalp, every fortnight in Bandra and careful medication & care to keep the hair intact.
Somewhere around 2012, I went into mild depression with A Band of Boys on the decline, gigs and everything else taking a hit which accelerated the hair loss and I also got reckless with the care. Along comes a show “MTV drive with Nano”, of which I did the first season & was part of a four-member crew “NanoEast” in a small dinky car travelling across the east of the country for 2 months, doing video bytes and generally exploring wanderlust. This was a period where we changed districts every two days, slept anywhere, ate anything, hardly drank any water as we were constantly on the road & this overall horrible combination of very poor hygiene, no rest & terrible nutrition affected my hair loss drastically. I took on the show to get away from everything and to figure out what I wanted to do in my second innings & that’s when I landed up at Deorali Monastery in Sikkim and saw a monk!
All of us had a drop-in tone and pitch as this place was very heavy on energy and for me personally a culminating point in my life where I tear shed all my inhibitions, fears, baggage and started a new by sacrificing my dishevelled look for a brand new clean bald look. From that catharsis point onwards I started carving & building towards this new “No fame-No shame” look, identity & image for myself. The tattoo came onwards as a natural extension to cover the huge scar that exists literally from one ear to another on the back of my scalp & in retrospect now, helps me feel like a king of sorts, given that it’s a Julius Ceaser wreath!
Expresso: What are your upcoming projects or gigs in line?
Sherrin: My upcoming projects would be 4 songs which are varied in tone and they are all part of the finale episodes of season one of “The Circuit’”. These are songs composed by me & produced by music producers who are better than me and I would be featuring them & all the artists involved in making the song in this property. Would be releasing these songs on YouTube with a live rendition video of the same and hedging them onto Bollywood. Hopefully, somebody will buy into it. If not then we can always have a cool album!
Expresso: What is the story behind “The Circuit”?
Sherrin: “The Circuit” is a brand new intellectual property of mine which has come into fruition after almost 1 year of R&D, trial & error, paid consultations and procurement. These are live interview cum performance-based episodes of noteworthy musicians with whom we speak about cause worthy issues and get them to perform for an online virtual audience. One of the USPs of the show is that it is live, in the truest sense, as these are Live streaming concerts of original compositions only and there is a direct & huge engagement between the fans and the artists then & there in the now, which we showcase and highlight with respect to the comments & we exploit this feedback system, very well on it.
This is hosted in my Mumbai studio and we’re supported & partnered by Harman Professional Solutions of which I am endorsee for our record, capture & playback, MusikShack as our instrument & gear partner, Sagar – The family treat as our food partner & Desi Tortillas as our snack partner. We are currently on YouTube every Thursday at 7 PM Indian Standard Time and as the name suggests it is literally my circuit of people & it puns off on pop-culture references like Indie circuit, Pop circuit, Rock circuit, Bolly Circuit etc.,
Future variants of the same would be a Wednesday “Celebrity Circuit” where I would have interviews with the who’s who of the Telly & the film world. Expanding further into Friday “Circuitry” would be a “Boiler room” version with eminent electronica artists in our country. Furthermore, a cultural vigilante point of view with “Short-Circuit” would also see the light of the day on Tuesdays.
We are currently almost at the finale of season one of the Thursday episodes of “The Circuit” and very excited & thrilled as this is a unique concept show and has garnered a lot of respect amongst the community. Plus the fact that this is manned by a small, fully hands-on team has me gloating on the supreme audio and video quality for a show of such nature. I hope to make this a way of life!