In Conversation With The Yellow Diary On Their Latest Release Mann, Their Upcoming Tour & More

The Yellow Diary

Although I was aware of their popularity, I actively began listening to songs by Indie-alt rock band The Yellow Diary after watching them perform live at Lollapalooza India earlier this year. I only got the chance to catch the last song Roz Roz from their set. And yet, I can never forget that short but impactful experience. You wouldn’t expect a 3:30 p.m. show to have so many people gathered at the stage. But even in the scorching heat, ardent fans stood for 45 minutes straight, enjoying the band’s heartfelt songs, which also pulled a lot of first-time listeners (including me) towards them. It was a special moment for the band as well. “Although we had an afternoon slot, we were quite sceptical about what the crowd was going to be like. But it got packed and the synergy between us and the audience was so special; it’s certainly one for the books,” shares the band’s drummer Sahil Shah. He along with his other band mates–Rajan Batra (lyricist and lead vocalist), Himonshu Parikh (music producer, keyboardist, and backing vocalist) and Harshvardhan Gadhvi (guitarist)–got on a Zoom call with me on a Tuesday afternoon. 

The band’s fifth member, Stuart DaCosta (base) was missing as he was unwell. But as soon as the four members joined, they had their little chatter going on. I tried gathering what they were laughing about but my perplexed and awkward expression caught Himonshu’s attention. So he broke the ice by apologising. “Sorry, Isha. This is just how we get.” I assured them that I was absolutely okay being the side character in this conversation where I merely observed their shenanigans and took my notes. What ensued was a rather pleasant and candid chat with The Yellow Diary where we spoke about their latest release Mann, the band’s formation, their creative process and future plans. 

The Yellow Diary

Becoming One

Right after Lollapalooza, The Yellow Diary’s Roz Roz was on loop on my playlist for the longest time, until I heard Marz, the band’s debut song that catapulted them to fame and one that gave me literal goosebumps with its power-packed vocals and music. So how did they all come together to create this banger? “It started in 2015 when Rajan and I first met through a mutual friend,” shares Himonshu. “We started working on the song, Marz and there was some magic in the room. That’s when the thought of doing this full-time came about. Sahil, who has been my friend for a long time, came on board as the drummer and he brought along Stu (Stuart).” Vaibhav Pani also joined the band that time but parted ways from it 2 years ago, so then came along Harsh. But he didn’t come alone; he came with his black shades. “You break those shades and you will find Harsh’s DNA,” Rajan adds humorously. 

After capturing a large fan base with Marz, the band went on to make other soulful tracks like Tere Jeya Hor Disda, Buniyaad, Dheere Se and Rab Raakha, among others. Their music is best described as ‘Poetry with Rock’ and the name The Yellow Diary refers to the way their songs are written. “There are things you go through in life that you want to jot down in a personal diary. And the colour yellow is often synonymous with happiness but it has a very large expanse of meanings. Just as the colour yellow goes from dark to bright, our songs emotionally also span from dark to bright and every page in the diary is a different song,” Himonshu explains. 

Their Latest EP

The Yellow Diary recently released their album, Mann which takes its listeners through an emotional rollercoaster with three heart-stirring tracks Mann, Kaun Mera and Sada. All the songs are tied with a thin thread of emotions that you go through in a relationship. 

“Mann is a special track as it’s the first song we wrote with Harsh. The song is about how in those first moments of falling in love with somebody or having a crush on someone, you have those butterflies in your stomach, and we all have gone through that at some point in our lives. Sada talks about how love becomes your guiding light and the leader in the relationship, guiding you towards your next steps. It was also one of the first songs that we wrote as a band back in 2016, and it took all these years for us to create a studio version of the song. Lastly, Kaun Mera (which was written for a project back in 2018) talks about not just the happy moments in relationships but also the moments that bring doubts and questions. So the EP feels like a good culmination of all these emotions together. In another way, it also shows the past, future and present coming together,” Rajan shares. 

Fostering Collaborations

Have you noticed how The Yellow Diary’s music videos often blend in some form of art? For instance, Roz Roz’s video tells the story of the song with the help of two contemporary dancers; Mujhe Mere Naam Se involves animation in its video and Mann ropes in Moses Koul and Tarini Shah to showcase how a lost diary of illustrations can unite strangers in a touching friendship. So I wondered if this is something that is intentional. 

“Music is art, essentially and it’s our strongest way of expressing ourselves. But what we like to do with our videos is keep the core emotion intact while getting another person’s perspective on it. So when another person comes, for example with Mann, the director’s perspective on the song in the video is really interesting, but it still retains the song’s actual emotions. That’s been a process across the board for other videos. It’s refreshing to see how another person interprets our music and how they absorb it. More than art, it’s a collaborative aspect of allowing more people’s vision to align with your image and see what it finally turns into,” Himonshu tells me. 

“We believe in artistic freedom and the freedom of expression. If that becomes something that is very relevant to our style of artistry, so be it. We don’t want to limit anybody who works with us,” Rajan adds. 

What It Takes To Be A Successful Artist

“Frankly, we are trying to figure out the meaning of success but at the same time, I believe that having a good work ethic, being professional, conducting yourself in the right way and just showing up can take you a long way,” Sahil says. 

Advice To Budding Artists

“Be consistent and stay aware of the evolution that the scene is going through so that you don’t lag behind. But when I say that, I don’t mean that you start making music from the perspective of sounding new, fresh, the coolest or the hippest. But staying in touch with the evolution that allows you to sonically improve the quality that you can bring to the music you’re making. That along with being persistent with what you’re writing with how you want to portray your art and be consistent,” shares Rajan. 

“And be super original, honestly,” Himonshu adds. That’s very important because I believe that we all go through the same emotions, but how you deal with it is what actually makes you unique and who you are as an individual. And you should try to get that reflection in your art because no one is going to have that same thing. That’s what really sets you apart from the rest.”

On Stage

What keeps the band going while performing live? They admit that it’s the people that play a part. For Harsh though, a bar of chocolate and an energy drink do it. But largely, it’s the crowd. “We could be as exhausted as possible, touring a few cities in a row, barely getting sleep on flights but when we hear the crowd singing our songs back to us, the energy’s back and it gets us pumped,” Himonshu says. That’s what made their performance during Lollapalooza so special but they also admit their next performance will be their favourite one. “We’ve not performed in the last couple of months because we’ve been busy writing. The next performance that comes through will be a really special one because we’ve been missing being on the road.”

Talking about being on the road, The Yellow Diary is all set to go on tour in November. They’ll be performing in Chandigarh, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Pune. While I’m keen on catching the full act from start to finish, I would also love to be a part of their jamming sessions, which are “only fun” as Rajan describes it. I believe him as my 20-minute conversation with the band m gave me a peek into their banters and I enjoyed being the audience. When a five-member band sits in a room to play their songs, it’s probably madness with ideas being bounced off each other, but with The Yellow Diary, it’s that coupled with joyous moments and fun that becomes the catalyst for their soulful music, which their listeners connect with. The recipe of a good song doesn’t just include relatable lyrics and catchy music but the emotion that each member imparts. And that’s what The Yellow Diary has nailed, making them a band you’ll want to have at the top of your playlist. 

- Lifestyle Editor


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