A thriving corporate career relinquished to pursue a passion project. You may have heard this trajectory a dime a dozen, however, it is rare that the passion seeks the man rather than the man seeking his passion. And the former is exactly what transpired when Rahul Misra, a financial consultant, left the busy offices of London for his quaint music studio in Delhi. Now, a year later he’s set to charm the capital with his first album through his experimental rock n roll music project, the Rahul Misra Enquiry Commission (RMEC).
Titled Conflict of Interest, the album is slated to go live on July 12 with RMEC’s debut gig and will be featured on online platforms next month. “This album is very personal. For me music is a prism, a frame of reference through which I can explore different themes of life. Using this medium to express myself and bring my music to audiences is the genesis for RMEC,” says Rahul. RMEC may have been established only last year, but music had always been a part of Misra’s life, “I always knew I could sing and would do so occasionally, but somehow never got a chance to hone my talent. It was when I joined Sri Venkateswara college (University of Delhi) that I took up music seriously and dedicated most of my time to the college’s Western Music Society, playing with bands, and being a member of Artists Unlimited,” he shares. While music became a way of life for Misra those three years, he preferred to learn through his own interactions and experiences over formal training in music as, “It keeps you from expressing yourself just the way you are, it puts a filter.” Yet, a pragmatic approach to life led the economics graduate to a Master’s in Economics at University of Warwick, and a consequent climb up the corporate ladder in finance.
“Interestingly for the first year of work life I didn’t even buy a guitar. I thought I’ve left that part of me and should now focus on minting cash – I had these delusions about myself!” he quips. But for all that, music still knew how to attach its strings with Misra. His friends introduced him to two fellow music enthusiasts and in no time the trio had a band taking over London’s gig scene by 2011. “It was godsend because I was going down the route of narrowing down my life and focussing only on my career, but this band opened up so many things,” Rahul says about the erstwhile band, Slow Motion Frenzy, which was prominent in the London and Camden music scene for four years. By 2015, Rahul was convinced that he wanted to switch over to music completely, “I was growing lyrically and musically. The lyrics and the music were coming together naturally instead of me writing lyrics and then searching for music to match with it, it was a spontaneous expression,” he tells us. And so, with music flowing through him, Rahul transitioned back to India and got strumming with RMEC.
Like the majority of up & coming artists today, he too has stepped away from being a genre-purist and followed the experimental path. On what led to that decision, Rahul explains his two-fold basis, “Firstly, the influences that our generation has are very diverse. With the introduction of digital music, you can stream everything from rock to psychedelic, to jazz to hip hop simultaneously. So while your core may be one genre, you can’t escape from the other influences. Secondly, it’s more interesting if you grow from the genre. Say, for rock n roll Elvis Presley’s version isn’t the only one, I can have my own version. If you really want to explore your music space, just go in the direction you feel is right.”
In a time where hit singles make up playlists, releasing an album is a breath of fresh air. Rahul tells us what prompted this decision, “It kind of expressed itself, after a while I noticed that there was definitely a common thread among all the songs! It’s a good time to bring back themed albums, the online forums are getting very scattered and I think people will like coming back to having a focussed experience.”
Lyrics, composing, recording – RMEC and Conflict of Interest is a one man army, with Rahul at the helm of things. However, the pragmatic life view hadn’t left him and he recognised the importance of collaborating with musicians to achieve his vision of the project. Enter RMEC’s live line-up: Anirudh Subramaniam (backing vocals, guitar, and sound design), Harshit Misra (bass), and Avaleon Giles (drums). “Anirudh is an old friend, initially he came on as a producer and later we both felt it right for him to be a part of the live line-up as well. As for Harshit and Avaleon, I had become a regular on the vibrant music scene in Delhi and thought it’s a good space to scout talent, and hence found them to be the fit for RMEC,” he shares.
Ready to rock n roll with the first outing of their album at The Piano Man Jazz Club, the four men have us happily devoid of any conflict of interest as to what our Wednesday evening looks like next week. As RMEC craftily blends together the old and new, we clink our glasses to another feather in Delhi’s musical cap.
Be a part of RMEC’s launch here: 9 pm onwards, July 12, at The Piano Man Jazz Club, 7/22, Ground Floor, B-6, Safdarjung Enclave Market, New Delhi.
Image Credits: Shibani Dutta, Viveka Chauhan