Madràs is a place far away— a place that no longer exists on maps but the city’s name alone evokes strong memories (‘childhood innocence, railway stations, being in an auto rickshaw, wisdom from simple people’) for Jeevan and Mathew Antony. The two brothers were born Madràs, now known as Chennai, in southern India and much of their music under the name Madràs is a product of their nostalgia for the place. Last week they released their beautiful debut album thingscanchange, which you pick up at their bandcamp. I’ve spent the past few days entranced by the thirteen-track release. I was so impressed by the effort that got in touch with Jeevan to see if he’d answer a few questions about Madràs, the album and future of the project— he said yes. Check out his words below.
- Several of the tracks on the album deal with issues of time, its passage and a longing for a there and then (‘older,’ ‘thingscanchange,’ ‘will wait’)— could you describe not the time that you were writing about, but the time when you first started recording songs as Madràs? How did it all come about?
I had another band with my brother, and a friend, called Fou. We were busy recording Fou’s debut record, but I had these ideas that didnt feel Fou-ish. I had just graduated from university, and was still coming to terms with other personal changes in my life; it was a weird/difficult time for me- I guess I have trouble with letting go. I recorded “Older”, and showed it to my brother around May of last year. We’re usually hard to please when it comes to our own material, but he really connected with the song, and encouraged me to explore it further. With that, everything just came out very easy.
- So I know that things started as a solo project. With such personal music grounded in nostalgia, did another person’s input change things? How did your brother’s inclusion affect the recording process?
To be honest, writing music without my brother inevitably feels unnatural, and/or incomplete. We come from a very close-knit family; we all know each other inside out. I think having my brother help me write/finish songs made the whole process easier; he knew where I was coming from and what we were trying to express.
- What kind of moments or scenes do you think are most fitting for your music. Also, what sorts of images were you envisioning as you worked on the album?
Love, loss, water, rain, winter, fog, sincerity, humility, intimacy, passion, vulnerability, betrayal.
When working on the album I would often imagine walking through railway stations in India/travelling around India by train, or picture the backwaters of my father’s hometown.