“My goal is to survive as an artist, doing what I am doing and not give up, which a lot of people do when the lights dim out.”
Piyush Kapoor, popularly known as the front man and vocalist of Mumbai-based alternative/hard rock band Daira, is a writer, singer, poet, thorough entertainer and an obsessive Instagram story collector. He is commonly known for his witty sense of humor, his amazing vocal range, his ability to write deep, mind-bending lyrics, his superpower to sing retro Bollywood songs in his unique reggae/jazz/blues/funk styles, his eccentric face paint and his captivating tattoos. If you think harder, you will also remember him from some sensational performances on Sony TV’s X Factor India in 2011.
Piyush is a vocal powerhouse and the official clown of the band. I’m not kidding, he literally is the clown in the band owing to the face paint he chooses to wear on stage! I struck a conversation with him about the complete look the band carries on stage to understand the ideology to which he replied, “There is no ideology; it’s just our need to express ourselves in our performance. We are clowns and we are here to entertain people. People want to experience music and I totally believe in that. For now, Daira is growing in expression and we want to reach out to as many people as possible, sometimes by being ridiculous. Once you paint your face, people see you for who you are and it’s a collaboration of so many humans who come and paint us the way they want to look at us. I think that’s amazing.”
The first time I saw Daira live, I was absolutely jolted! I couldn’t believe how seamlessly Piyush floated across those extremely tough high notes, holding his breath effortlessly while not missing a single beat. I kept wondering where had I seen him before and why did his face look so familiar. I had seen him on YouTube perhaps! I kept wondering and trying to place him throughout the show. By the end of the show, I had a vivid recollection of seeing his face on an old cover video by Malayali rockers, Thaikkudam Bridge on Kappa TV (Music Mojo Season 3). Piyush sang a very cool fusion version of Roadhouse Blues (The Doors) and Inteha Ho Gayi (Kishore Kumar) and that is actually how I also got introduced to Thaikkudam Bridge as a band.
He was a part of the band from the beginning to 2015, providing guitars and vocals for the band. The band has released a series of interesting versions of popular rock and Bollywood songs on Kappa TV which Piyush was a part of. He decided to move on from the band in 2015 and focus more on his band, i.e. Daira and make more original music. “My experience with Thaikkudam Bridge has been incredible. I learnt a bunch of things during my tenure with the band. I learnt dedication and team work by working with so many musicians, working with different skill sets, how they work together as a group and to be able to focus on a single point of origin with various minds. It has been a very fulfilling experience over all.” he says when asked to comment on his experience with Thaikkudam Bridge.
With Daira, Piyush writes songs of freedom, love and nothingness. ‘Daira’ in Urdu means ‘boundaries’. The band has featured on Maed In India (Podcast by IMV Podcasts), Music Mojo on Kappa TV (Season 3 & 4), Balcony TV and the Muse Room. The band has also been ranked among the top 5 bands by Sennheiser in 2016, and Rolling Stone India listed the debut album as the second best album in 2015. “The debut album was quick, the 8 songs on the album were formed within 6 months of the inception of the band. Daira is our mother and we are the fathers of this unique coalition of creators and creation. We are in the process of showcasing our new material now. ‘Overtones’ by Benchmark Studios, Mumbai recently recorded our songs ‘Sahafi’ from the upcoming album. We are in the pre-production phase for our next child to be born.” grinned Piyush as he commented on the band’s current projects.
Talking about his tattoos, he has 3 tattoos from artist Rajeev Lama from Kathmandu, Nepal. His first ever tattoo was from his home town, Lucknow by an artist named Fahad. He got a phoenix on his throat and when asked why, he chuckled saying, “I was young and had the money”. The phoenix is now covered up with a massive winged human skull tattoo, beautifully extending to his chest, which is currently an ongoing piece. People have cited references to the Mumbai-based Doom Metal band, Dirge’s logo in the tattoo which he just laughed about and said, “No, there is no reference to Dirge”. He continues, “We (the band) were in Manali and went to see this artist named Anirban a.k.a Ronin Ban for a touch up on my throat tattoo. While talking to me he said that he would like to design something for me. The very next day when I met him, he had this fascinating skull design ready and I really liked it. It’s not yet complete and is going to take some time to finish. Ronin Ban is an amazing bass player, unfortunately he lost his hearing and he stopped playing the bass after that but his passion in the field of creativity is unchanged and I like working with such people. They are inspiring. Hence, I am his canvas for now.”
Piyush also has an animated singing microphone tattoo on his left forearm, a cartoon figure of a bull on his right leg and a tribal scorpion tattoo on his right forearm. He got the singing microphone for obvious reasons. The bull symbolizes his Zodiac sign, i.e. Taurus and the tribal scorpion tattoo was influenced by the movie The Scorpion King. And just in case you’re wondering, nope, he’s not related to Anil Kapoor!
I asked him if he has ever faced any discrimination or challenges for being a part of the inked community to which he rapidly replied with, “Apart from a recent break up (after the throat tattoo cover up and extension), I haven’t really faced any challenges or discrimination really. Why would I face it? I’ve made a conscious decision to get these tattoos, so I’m gonna have to accept whatever consequences come my way.” Ladies, take notes, the man said he’s single!!!!
Piyush’s music sensibilities are heavily influenced by Rammstein, Avial, System Of A Down, Omar Sharif (Pakistani theatre artist), Peter Griffin (cartoon character from Family Guy), George Carlin (comedian), Salvador Dali (painter), Jagjit Singh and Jaun Elia (poets). He has been a part of some iconic grunge tribute shows in the recent past in Pune & Mumbai and owing to the rising controversy on tribute gigs I asked him what he thought of them (just for kicks! Hahaha!). He replied, “I think people should stop wasting their time hating on tribute gigs and concentrate more on their own material. We don’t need that kinda negativity. Just enjoy a good show and maybe appreciate the craftsmanship of musicians since their passion while performing on stage for a tribute show is no different from their passion when they are performing their original music.”
He intends on learning to play the trumpet soon. He would also like to try his hand at theatre performances at some point. He likes to think of himself as a novice and a seeker. His skill stems from his obsessive need to express himself in how he sees things inside his head, irrespective of whether it is on stage or on an instagram story. “Everything excites me, from politics to human stupidity, the whole spectrum needs to be absorbed to excite you as a human being.” he says. Hipster at heart, in his trademark pyjamas and a basic t-shirt, Piyush Kapoor wins your heart over with his simplicity when he is off stage. He is the life of the party and there’s never a dull moment when he’s around. If you ever get the opportunity to meet the man, remember that he is going to charm you with his infectious energy and there is not a thing you can do about it!