The Fifths are new on Melbourne’s music scene. The six-member band – comprised of lead singers Rohan Raghavan and Aditya Vaddiparthi, Apurva Nargundkar on percussion, Sarang Mujumdar on keyboard, Harsha Sree as rhythm and Arnav Dayal as lead guitarist — formed in 2012, putting a Western twist on classic Hindi tracks and playing friends parties before being spotted and getting gigs.
Having released their first original track on April 26, The Indian Sun caught up with the group to find out about their ‘Hinglish’ sound and how it bridges the gap between ethnic and Western music.
What style of music do you make?
The lyrics are Indian but we’ve got a lot of English mixed into it as well so it’s called ‘Hinglish’ – Hindi and English mixed up together. The first song that we’re releasing is a very dancy track. The song’s called Bhoot, which literally translates to ghost… we wanted to keep it quite light, something very accessible.
You might find some bands are very consistent about the genre they operate in. But for us, within India you have so many different kinds of music, and then we’ve all lived in different parts of the world and moved here at different times so the kind of influences we bring are very, very varied.
Tell us about your ‘Hinglish’ sound; are there many bands blending Hindi and English in Australia?
In Australia and Melbourne as far we know we are the only proper band that performs as a band at gigs and is consistently doing it as The Fifths. And we’re probably the only band that’s putting out originals, or starting to.
There are a few independent artists who do things but there is a serious void of a band here. Which is why when we started playing about a year and a half ago people just really loved the idea. They don’t get to see bands doing the kind of music that they want to hear.
There’s a huge population out here that like the ethnic sound blended with Western presentations. And that’s really what we do, we sometimes take old songs and just totally change the format to give them a very modern flavour, and people just love listening to that. Because melodically with the classics people have memories associated with them but we just make it more relevant to them.
What’s the response to your music been like so far?
We played a 45-minute segment at the Diwali Festival in Fed Square last October, and it was amazing. Even though, being Diwali, there were a lot of Indians there, there was a huge 25 to 30 per cent segment which was just Australians. And to hear them and watch them groove to the music we were playing, it was really amazing. It was just the music which was connecting; they couldn’t understand all the words but they connected with the music.
How difficult has it been cracking the music scene?
We’ve been quite fortunate from one gig to the next, people watch us at one and they get us to play at others. We just grab every opportunity with open arms.
Lucky Ali [a seminal Indian artist who pioneered the indie movement in India] came down to Melbourne last October so we opened his show and we were actually backing band as well. And that was at the Hi-Fi, so that was a highlight in the year for us.
Are you planning on making a full album?
We’re starting off with a single… and we’re going to work our way to an album. The plan for us is, by the end of July we want to have released four singles. Then we’ll package them together and launch an EP and at that stage we’ll do a little launch party to kind of recap the whole thing.
We’ll release tracks on Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud and we’ve got an aggregator to get on Spotify, Nokia Music and other streaming channels.
You get to reach more people [releasing music online], there’s more bang for your buck that way.
Once we have the track we’ll be accessing radio stations like PBS and SBS and some of the other more mainstream Indian channels around here to get some airtime.
How did the group first get together?
We’ve all been active in the Melbourne music circle for the last four or five years. Some of us have lived here longer; some of us have lived here 10 years.
It’s been quite sporadic, quite ad-hoc, and then in the last two years we thought ‘We meet each other so often at all these other gigs why not form our own band because we have similar wavelengths’. Even though our influences are quite different, we enjoy listening to the same kind of music.
We’ve got a lot of ideas, it’s now just getting into the production mode.
We definitely want to hit some of the big festivals… and also do more events like the Fed Square Diwali and White Night festival where we can get access to the wider Australian public as well. Because we really think the music is more appealing than just to Indians. Obviously if we can get some gigs overseas, get to tour India, if our music becomes popular there then we’re not going to say no.
To hear a sample of The Fifths music and find out about upcoming gigs, head to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thefifthsmelbourne/
Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Music in Melbourne)