Bombay Royale – Q&A

Bombay Royale


The Bombay Royale  launch their debut album, ‘You Me Bullets Love’ at the Hi-Fi Bar on Saturday 19th of May with special guests The Bluebottles and DJ Manchild. Expect to be taken into a 1970’s movie house, with video artists Abracadabla and the Sapphire Dance Group.

The Bombay Royale consists of twelve talented musicians from diverse backgrounds, originally bringing together songs from Bollywood in the 1960’s and 70’s to Melbourne. They have since morphed into an eclectic sound that mixes a range of styles from classical Indian music, spaghetti western cinemascapes, bossa nova to lounge retro-cabaret theatrics, amongst many others.

Their launch at the Hi-Fi will sure to be an entertaining one, as they sing in Hindi, Bengali and English, dance with loud costumes and with a planned cinematic expectacular.

Andy Williamson of The Bombay Royale took time out of their busy schedule to answer the who, what and why.

‘You Me Bullets Love’ is out now on HopeStreet Recordings/Fuse, check out the website to listen, subscribe and download.

1. What and who are Bombay Royale? What was your initial approach to the band?

The Bombay Royale is a Melbourne based band that was originally conceived of as a vehicle for performing 1960’s-70’s Bollywood songs live. Those old tunes are off the hook!  Composers such as RD Burman and Anandji & Kalyanji produced cinematic soundtracks that were equal to anything produced in the West, mashing influences such as Spaghetti Western, Surf and funk with their own Indian musical heritage.  My initial approach was to simply score and arrange 20-25 tunes for an eleven piece band and then find the right musicians to capture the sound I was after.  As the band has evolved the whole creative process has become a lot more collaborative. Eight out of ten tracks on the new album are co-written originals and whilst we have used the old tunes as an inspiration, I think we have started to develop something of our own.

2. You recently played WOMAD – How was it? How were you received?

Womad is a pretty unique festival, particularly in Australia.  The calibre of the line-up is consistently high, something which I’m afraid is not true of many Australian festivals. The Bombay Royale was really well received there. In fact the band has been met with a lot of enthusiasm everywhere, I think in part due to the fact that it’s a bit different and also a bit left field.  As far as we’re aware there isn’t really anyone doing what we do, either here in Australia or overseas.

 3. You have a new record coming out soon. Could you talk a little about the writing process and collaborations that went with creating the record?

The band has always required collaboration, even in the early stages when we were only playing ‘covers’.  As western trained musicians we could recognize and replicate a fair bit of what was going on, but we were always going to need to work with musicians from an Indian background who could provide the other ‘pieces of the puzzle’.  The writing process has largely been an extension of this. Myself, Tom or Bob wrote instrumental themes which the singers used as springboards for writing vocal melodies. What is satisfying is that the result is not something that any one of us could have arrived at alone.

4. You are launching the record at the Hi-Fi on May the 19th. What can we expect?

Well, a party!  More specifically, for this particular gig we’re emphasising the cinematic aspect of the music and getting two large projector screens installed at the Hi-Fi.  We’re working with video artist Dean McInerney (aka Abracadabla) who will create a kaleidoscope of images splicing old Bollywood films and footage of the band. We’ve got surf-sational band the Bluebottles as a support and DJ Manchild on the decks all night.  We’ve got one or two other suprises in store so we’re really aiming to make a special night of it.

5. As you guys have been smashing the Australian scene, where do you go from here?

I still think Australia can be smashed a bit more!  But yep, I think we’d love to get overseas.  Continental Europe, India and the US/Canada would all be on the list. And tropical islands. You know, cocktails and palm trees.

6. What has been your favorite venue/festival to play so far?

Reunion Island. Its tropical and had cocktails, an active volcano, coral reefs and reggae bars. And French cheese and wine.

7. What’s your take on the Melbourne music scene? Particularly in relation to your style of music?

I think of Melbourne (or at least parts of it) as a diverse and vibrant place.  As a newer nation our cultural identity is also a little more fluid compared to many other countries.  These factors do influence the music scene and culturally collaborative projects such as ours are fairly common.  We’ve occasionally had overseas people ask us ‘why are you playing Bollywood music?’ and I remember the first time I heard this was genuinely quite taken back.  It really hadn’t occurred to me – if you hear some music that is fantastic why wouldn’t you want to have a go at playing it?

8. Top three Melbourne artists?

The first three that come off the top of my head? The Puta Madre Brothers, Flap and Clairy Brown and the Bangin’ Racquettes.

9. Last record you bought?

Palenque Palenque – it’s great compilation of 1970’s/80’s Afro-Colombian music.  Highly recommended.  Barely had anything else on the turntable since I bought it.