While independent bands and musicians have been mushrooming all over the country due to the youngsters' renewed interest in non-Bollywood music and a growing awakening about the talent that exists in the country, Jammu and Kashmir-based music band, MoonDogs, is insistent that they are different from their peers.
"Everyone around us in college - talented or not - was interested in being in a band. But, most were directionless and not focused on their music. For them, it was just the 'in' thing to do," claim the members of the band, adding that they, on the other hand, are serious about their work. Syed Aaqib and and Syed Hamza - lyricists and vocalists - and Awais Yousf (bassist) and Shayaan Bhatt (drummer) comprise MoonDogs, which they formed in 2011. From amongst the four, only Aaqib and Hamza were present in the city on Sunday for an acoustic set.
Both Hamza, 23, and Aaqib, 24, are law students and say they had been influenced mostly by The Beatles. Growing up listening to their parents' old vinyl records, they say they learnt music on their own, without any formal training. "Writing music is hard work. This notion that artists get high and come out with a song is not true," clarifies Aaqib.
When asked if they face any restrictions in their home state, they say that they are Muslims living in a Muslim community but it has never been a problem for them as artists. "Athough Bollywood and popular artists rule the roost in Jammu, so our kind of genre isn't given the support it needs," says Hamza, adding, "When we came to Chandigarh for the first time two years back ago, it was like paradise for us. The scenario for bands is very conducive here and the crowd is receptive. Eventually, we will shift base from Jammu." Impressed by the Punjabi folk music, the two say it is heartening to see how much respect and admiration the artists garner in Punjab.
Through their music, Hamza and Aaqib say they aim at raising awareness regarding the state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir. Saying Kashmiris who claim to be non-Indians sadden them, the two, however, add that the Indian media also tends to exaggerate the situation. "We are in no way trying to be anti-establishment though, for we just want there to be basic awareness," they quickly add.
Apart from a couple of singles out on YouTube, they have performed in Delhi and Chandigarh and were also a part of the Red Bull Tour Bus at the famed NH7 festival in Delhi. Recently, they were featured on BalconyTVDelhi, a leading online viral music show aired daily that features bands, musicians and other variety acts on balconies around the world.