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Skinny Alley

Band Lineup:

Jayashree Singh Amit Datta Gyan Singh Jeffrey Menezes Jeffrey Rikh

Skinny Alley is not just a band. The five musicians would like to think it’s a Sound. It’s a sound that has evolved through years of playing together in gigs, and doing covers of every genre of music imaginable — rock, pop, funk, R&B, country, jazz, reggae and the blues.

Gyan Singh is a bass guitarist, songwriter and Jayashree’s husband, Amyt Datta is the guitar player and songwriter, Jeffrey Menezes plays the keyboard and also doubles as a vocalist. Jeffrey Rikh is the drummer and vocalist.

“We were playing other people’s hits for several years, before we realised that our creativity was being stifled. So we decided to make our own music, write our own lyrics. We draw inspiration from life. Initially, our lyrics were an outpouring of sorts — the seedy hotel rooms we stayed at, the hours spent in bone-shaking bus journeys, the sudden disappearance of organisers after the show, bounced cheques and so on. Then we started writing about city life, bringing up children, finding jobs, working mothers, money and success,” says this mother of a 17-year-old. While the offspring isn’t a musician, he has designed the album cover and developed the Skinny Alley website. Incidentally, the name is a translation of patli galli, just a stray desi phrase!

But honestly, who wants to rock to mundane words? “You’ll be surprised how people identify with these songs — the words are as relevant to a teenager as to a middle-aged housewife,” says the lady. “And whatever the words, we never lose the musicality,” she adds.

There is a second album in the pipeline — low-tech, homespun, raw and real. “And we’ve no money left after producing the first. There is no money yet in Indian rock music,” confesses the 50-year-old vocalist.

The group has been happy performing in the relatively laidback Kolkata and touring the country as a top dance band. “We’ve been able to sustain ourselves because our needs seem to be simpler in Kolkata than in other big cities,” feels Jayashree. “For the rock scene to look up you need the corporate support, good audiences, radio, musicians who are willing to spend years trying to get their own sound. You need to be able to accept all the built-in prejudices against Indian rock and say I am going to do my thing and, of course, be true to that thing,” she adds.

All said and done you can never “Escape the Roar” when it comes to Skinney Alley.

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