Bangalore is no stranger to Doom Metal, as those who remain involved with the South Asian scene may know. Djinn & Miskatonic are one of Bangalore’s premier exporters of riffy Doom Metal – despite the fact that they started as a bass-and-drums Drone style act. Despite the success of that style, they added another guitarist and released their debut album “Forever in the Realm” on Transcending Obscurity India, which was much appreciated by Doom-mongers in India and beyond. With the band working on a split with Black Metal band Solar Deity as well as another full length, I figured it would be an interesting time to catch up with founder and bass player Jayaprakash – who apart swinging the hammer of doom, is also a published author and runs an animal shelter. Read on.
– Hey there, JP. Hope all’s going smoothly.
It’s okay. I live in interesting times, as the ancient Chinese curse stipulates.
– In terms of creative output, how was 2014 for you?
It was quite a good year. We got Djinn back together after a short-lived disbandment, did a couple of gigs and now have a second album coming together. My first chapbook of short stories, ‘Weird Tales Of A Bangalorean’ was published and sold out. My stories appeared in a few good anthologies and magazines.
– Aditya from Solar Deity mentioned he would be doing a split with D&M. How’d that come across, and when can we expect new material?
More or less at random. Sriram, our guitarist, and I talk about doing splits with all kinds of bands and we liked the idea of going outside genre lines and doing a split with Solar Deity, whose music we like quite a bit. I’ve always liked the more, well, depressive kind of black metal. Aditya liked the idea too and I think he will be recording soon. I am not sure exactly when we will put this out, we need to re-learn and re-arrange an older song of ours called ‘Flight Of Sand’ for this split.
– On the previous record, the band’s sound was generally of a free-flowing structure, plodding along at standard doom tempos but not afraid to kick up the speed here and there, with some unexpected nods to Death and Black Metal apart from the usual 70s proto-metal and doom fare. To what do you credit the curious songwriting style?
Gautham Khandige, our singer, says I have an ‘anything goes’ approach to songwriting. Personally, I just get a bit bored playing one mood and style straight through a song. While I enjoy consciously retro bands, I don’t see any point in pretending the 80s and 90s didn’t happen, and it’s fun seeing how you can branch into thrash, or death, or black influenced passages and still keep it doomy. On the new album, though, there’s a general increase in baseline tempos and more 80s metal and epic metal influences. So I think the key to Djinn is a doomy core with other metallic textures thrown in. Really, it all goes back to Iommi who pioneered the turn-on-a-dime style of songwriting.
– You’re also a published author. What are your main writing influences – apart from H.P. Lovecraft, of course.
Peter Ackroyd, in novels like the amazing Hawkmoor and The House Of Doctor Dee plays on the idea of old cities being palimpsests, where sometimes older times peep through the cracks and become part of their own future. That’s been hugely inspirational for my series of Bangalore tales. Robert Aickman is a writer I struggle with – I am probably immensely influenced by his beautifully written, haunting and subtle tales of unease, yet I feel there is something dry, sterile in his style that I want to rebel against. But is there, or is it just the urge to ‘kill the father’? I don’t know. Other important influences are Vilas Sarang, Naiyer Masud, Thomas Ligotti, Italo Calvino, JL Borges, Angela Carter and many more.
– Do you feel that your interests in writing stories and making music converge, or do you prefer to keep them seperate?
There is a parallel. I favour dark themes and moods in both music and fiction. I write gloomy weird fiction and I play doom metal. HP Lovecraft is beloved by weird fiction fans and metalheads alike. I think it dovetails quite well. I may even base a song on one of my stories some day, and in fact some of my stories allude directly to music.
– Tell us about your animal shelter that you run with your wife. When did you initiate it, and how has it fared thus far? Is there much of a scope for animal rights activism in India?
It’s been a series of ups and downs. Currently more downs than ups. But we will keep at it.
India has a vast need for everything. I focus on animal welfare, but there’s poverty, environmental destruction, a host of social evils…you could spend a lifetime listing what’s wrong. I choose to focus on one cause, because you can’t do everything, and the plight of stray and abandoned animals in our cities strikes a repsonsive chord. My work is more in practical rescue and rehabilitiation than activism per se, though I do try to spread awareness. I think it’s the urban middle class who are the biggest problem. They are divorced from nature, high on consumerism, and want to live in a sanitised, branded and shrink-wrapped world. The joke is that they’re living in a bubble and it isn’t going to last forever.
– Back to your band. You started it as a drum-and-bass only sound, adding guitarist Sriram a year later. Do you foresee any more lineup additions?
I was really content with the drums and bass sound, it sounded way heavy as it was if I may say so. But it’s hard getting that kind of amplification going on the bass out here unless you have some seriously large cabs to go through. It also limited our appeal a lot – people who would have objectively enjoyed our riffs and arrangements tended to be unable to see beyond the ‘lack’ of a guitar. But I can’t say this worried us a lot. However, I was starting to want to draft a guitarist just to have more sonic options and Sriram happened at the right time. We’ve currently added a second live guitarist, Mushaf Nazeer, to replicate some of the dual guitar layers Sriram put down during the sessions for our upcoming second album. I’d like to add a cellist some time, or failing that a keyboard player.
– Barring the upcoming split, what’s in store for the future?
We’ve almost wrapped up our second album, which will be called ‘Even Gods Must Die’ I hope to have it out by March/April. We are planning another split with Dormant Inferno and a few other Indian doom bands.
– Thanks for your time. Hope you have a good year.
Thanks for asking! And a great year to you too.