Features

The Soul – on touring India, the ‘Our Neighbours’ initiative, and new music

By Dimithri Wijesinghe 

Things have been quiet on the home front, but The Soul has been making some moves behind the scenes. Coming off of the second leg of their tour in India, unfortunately forced to cancel the third due to the pandemic, the band has made some changes – including the addition of a new drummer.

Speaking about what they’ve been up to, guitarist Khazim Miskin shared that with the new drummer, they can promise some new sounds, and since the curfew has lifted, they’ve largely kept things on the down-low playing smaller gigs and such. However, they hope to organise a concert soon enough but until then, he said that all that they can do is compose music.

The Soul were recently featured in a popular Indian podcast called “Made in India” where they carried out an initiative titled “Our Neighbours”; the show would feature artists from neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, and of course representing Sri Lanka was The Soul. Miskin shared that the host who does the show happens to be a fan of their music and had reached out requesting the rights to play a couple of their songs on her show.

The Soul’s tour in India – a one-and-a-half months-long stint which started in late October 2019 – included them playing in a number of music festivals which featured independent artistes such as themselves, including the NH7 Weekender and Goa Sunsplash. During this first leg of the tour, Miskin said that they managed to cover about six to seven states in India and played around 25 concerts.

Miskin mentioned that NH7 was actually where they were introduced to May, who was the host who initiated the “Our Neighbours” project via her podcast and radio show. She’s an indie music enthusiast who took a liking to their music and extended an invitation.

He shared that playing in India was a new experience, in that they were given the opportunity to test out their music on an audience that is rooted in a deep and rich culture. India is a country that has a colourful culture and playing amidst that was daunting, but they are glad they went ahead with it. Miskin said: “It is so easy to get booed off of stage if the audience is not vibing to your stuff, but we thought we’ll go ahead and give it a try.”

He shared that there are many occasions when you have to take chances sometimes, adding that even in Sri Lanka, there is a prejudgment people make when you are a new act; a judgment made based on your look and name, and right up until you play your first set, there is an air where you are expected to prove yourself. He said that they were able to face challenges like that and play their music to a wider and diverse audience.

They returned to India once again in early January, where they played in Goa and Bangalore for a duration of two weeks, and they were scheduled to return once again to play in Delhi, Pondicherry, and Mumbai. However, that didn’t happen as Covid-19 took over. When asked if they would continue on and complete the tour now that air travel is soon to be allowed, he said that it is unlikely they would, as there are financial concerns with tours such as this, and so for now they hope to focus on composing new music.