As they shuttled between piano lessons and Hindustani vocal training in the suburbs of Chicago, brother and sister Anand and Arthi Meera Subramanian developed a love of Top 40 music and Brit bands like The Smiths and The Sundays. Once grown– and after nearly a decade of pursuing solo careers – the two decided to join forces and become Fair and Kind. They self-released their lush and dreamy pop debut album, A Little Past Twilight, in late 2008, and old-school shoegazers rejoiced. Now, with one living in Chicago and the other in Los Angeles, Anand discusses the duo’s methods in slowly crafting their upcoming sophomore album.
What motivated you two to make music together?
We were making music independently of one another for a lot of years and in 2005 we had the opportunity to play together. Arthi supported a couple of dates I played, and she’d just released an amazing, acoustic solo. I realized we had a great musical relationship in addition to our great sibling relationship.
What was your relationship with music as kids?
We grew up surrounded by different types of Indian music. Devotional music was a huge influence in our lives, and we both took Indian classical vocal lessons. We were listening to a lot of Top 40 and other radio and around junior high I got into Brit Pop – The Smiths, The Cure and The Sundays – in the early nineties. My sister would pretty much listen to whatever I was listening to because of course I would power-trip being the big brother (laughs).
Does your intimate knowledge of Indian music come through in the music of Fair and Kind?
I’m not sure if there’s an identifiable marriage of the Indian influences…but it contributed to our knowledge of music and without a doubt, our ears for music were enhanced by listening to and participating in Indian music.
It’s evolved. They started off being concerned about us taking a path focused on a fantasy where maybe we couldn’t support ourselves, but by the time we started Fair and Kind, they saw how much we loved it and could appreciate the style of music we were making…as much as their tastes would allow (laughs).
Tell me about the writing process for A Little Past Twilight.
We’ll e-mail our sketches of songs to the other and come up with our songs that way. I think we have to be a lot more methodical and disciplined with writing living apart.
Three years later, is there anything about your debut LP you’d change?
I enjoy that album a lot and Arthi and I are both very proud of it. As a perfectionist, there’s always little thing you want to change. The bass line on Channel Onefor example, there are a couple notes I wish I could’ve done differently but it’s just minor things like that.Do you have a favorite song on the album?
I have a bunch of favorites; I kind of love every song for a different reason, you know? I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant (laughs).
And you’re working on a new album now?
It’s tentatively called Light Music Program and each song will is inspired by eighties and nineties Tamil songs. Tamil is the language our parents spoke.
Is this your homage to your childhood?
I don’t know…The specific songs we chose evoke nostalgia and a sort of melancholy; there’s a twinkly, pretty vibe to the songs we’re referencing and I think they marry really well with the kind of music we make.Will there be a shift in your sound?
There’s a fine line between wanting to evolve and not push away the people who like our sound. We don’t want to be stale, but we like what we do and don’t want the next record to be shockingly different. It definitely won’t be fusion-y and the casual listener might not even realize those influences are there.
*Originally published under ‘Interviews’ on MyTelus.com.