Record. Release. Repeat.

|Viewing Party Unplugged II|

Not too long ago, I wrote about a rising Karama-based band and the band’s potential to pierce the global stage with its unmatched synchronisation. I could not have been more right about this — On March 20, 2021, Viewing Party signed up with TuneCore and went live globally on all streaming platforms with a new release.

Only, this time, it wasn’t a music cover; it was something even better — it was a composition of their own — Let Me Be.

“Let Me Be” wasn’t recorded in a studio with engineered hardwood flooring; furthermore, there was no “live room” filled with microphone stands, and no “control room” with sound engineers — it was produced in their very own households. Vocals were DIY — Believe it or not, they used living room curtains as a make-shift vocal booth.

You can find the 4 minute YouTube music video here. The music video is essentially a compilation of the band’s journey over the past 2 years. It’s worth a listen/watch. March 20, 2021 is in fact the second anniversary of the date of their very first gig as a group in 2019.

Figure 1: Viewing Party: Kasha Fernandes (Singer), Nathan Rodrigues (Guitar), Bentic Sebastian (Synths), Tesson Joe (Bass guitar), Darren Aranha (Drums)

The Journey to Release Date

The group’s music release on all streaming platforms highlights one of the advantages of the ever so expanding “Subscription Economy” which places its focus on usership rather than ownership — in this case, businesses like Spotify, YouTube and TuneCore have democratised music publishing, empowering artists/bands like Viewing Party with control over the music they compose, record, release. Thus, bringing them closer to their fans and audience by eliminating the role of the “middle-man” — making the entire process pocket-friendly and faster.

While the process of releasing music was somewhat simplified for the group, composing the song was not exactly “pocket-friendly and faster”. The released song may be just 4 and a half minutes long, but it does not reveal to us the countless hours that went into its creation. Amidst the 10-hour workdays, job changes, and house relocations, the group faced a myriad of challenges including never ending duels with Nathan’s frustratingly slow laptop, nerve wrecking problems with unresponsive equipment, and “dealing with the obsession with perfectionism” when producing recordings and overlays.

Everything was “painstakingly recorded, produced, arranged, edited, mixed, and mastered” in a single laptop. The DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of choice was Reaper (for all the young artists out there — it’s free to use). All vocals, guitars, and bass were recorded through a Scarlett 2i2 audio interface. As one member of the group says, “One audio interface can do a lot more than you think. You don’t need a lot of resources to create amazing music. A songwriter can go a long way with just a laptop, instrument, a mic, an audio interface, and determination”.

Figure 2: Viewing Party dealing with an obsession with pefectionism
Figure 3: Using Reaper as a DAW of choice

The Message Underlying The Lyrics

The rhythm and melody seem to comprise an Indie/Folk vibe of an odd-time signature, padded with Asian flavour. I might not be too far off — Nathan, one of the band members, grew up listening to Coke Studio performances, and would have wanted to fuse facets of Asian rhythm and melody into the song. The opening riff of “Let Me Be” has its origins in Folk music (Take Raging Fire by Phillip Phillip’s for example), and this “folk-sounding melody defined the song”. On the night they were trying to bounce ideas for an original, Nathan picked up his acoustic guitar and “out of nowhere”, played the folk sounding guitar melody you hear right after the opening riff of the song — 20 minutes later, the chords, chorus and “meat of the instrumental” was ready — a serendipitous moment for the group.

The song seems to be inspired by Coldplay’s Every Teardrop is A Waterfall — well, the vibes I get are the same — the song’s laudatory rhythm and lyrics evoke feelings of pure bliss and the desire to celebrate the little things in life no matter how small they may be. Viewing Party has always expressed their desire to write songs with “upbeat instrumentals” that boost positive emotions and energise their listeners — positive thoughts and feelings “which aren’t just the façade but are triggered from deep inside into the outside world. As one member of the band puts it, “there are too many local artists writing sad, depressing songs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but the saturation does tend to become tedious”.

To me, the song seems to be about one’s desire to escape repression, restrictions and stress we experience in our daily lives, and feel emancipated even if it is just for a few moments in the day.

Figure 4: (From left) Tesson, Nathan, Kasha, Bentic

Viewing Party wanted a title that defined the song, “whilst being sonically pleasing, succinct and not cliché”. Kasha then suggested using the lyric she came up with in the chorus, ‘Let Me Be’ minus the ‘Free’.

Viewing Party also provided their own context to the song — Kasha highlighted that, “COVID negatively impacted all of us through various degrees and our individual struggles dealing with the pandemic served as a bedrock for Let Me Be’s lyrical content. That’s why it felt so instinctive to start the song off by singing, ‘take me to some place unspoken’. Though, we didn’t solely want to express a desire to escape; but rather focus on facing whatever difficulties personally lie ahead. Over the course of the song, we describe combating the perilous battle between you and your thoughts when feelings of confusion, anxiety, and depression invade your headspace. But the key message here is that ultimately, there is a way out — and you have the power to make that switch”.

Nathan added his perspective by saying it was about “proactively moving on from an uncertain, dark, liminal mental space and consciously deciding to embrace whatever is yet to come. In a way, it’s also about feeling the empowering freedom an optimistic nihilist faces when he/she accepts that there is no predetermined meaning to life. Because by accepting that there is no innate meaning to life, we are free to create our own purpose and in turn, discover what makes us happy”.

The music video is essentially a compilation of performances since the group started in February 2019, and as the group says, “highlights the patience and perseverance” they’ve encompassed to come up with great musical content, riveting live shows, and captivating musical arrangements. As one member of the band puts it, “Patience taught us a lot and prepared us to have the tenacity to create a professional track that we could be 100% proud of. That’s why it’s extremely gratifying to see all the hard work being paid off through clips of us enjoying the process, having a great time as friends, and partying it up.”

Figure 5: (From Left) Nathan, Bentic, Kasha, Tesson

Let Me Be (Lyrics)

Take me to someplace unspoken

’Cause all my thoughts keep overflowing

I pull myself together again

’Cause this time I don’t want to give in

Where do I go? Where to begin?

Lost myself in all that’s changing

I pull my thoughts together again

So take me to someplace unspoken

Let me be

Free

This time I won’t fall over again

This space of mind I’ve always been in

All that’s lost is not forgotten

From this state of self-reflection

Let me be

Free

Let me be

Free

Feel free to follow them on Instagram at:

@bentic.js
@lazyeyedone
@nathan.f.rodrigues
@kashafernandes
@darrencaranha

Photo Credits @lazyeyedone (Tesson), @kinaneisaac26 (Kinane)

This article is purely my opinion and does not represent the opinions of any person, group, website or firm