The Journey of ‘Gehraiyaan’ Composer


On 3 December, 2023, 34-year-old composer and producer Kabeer Kathpalia fulfilled a dream he had since faculty of performing on the NH7 Weekender music pageant in Pune. Accompanied by his pal and longtime collaborator Savera Mehta and different artists on stage, Kabeer, who goes by the moniker ‘OAFF’, had his “full circle second”.

“The NH7 Weekender expertise was insane. Going to varsity in Pune, I attended a few of the earliest Weekender festivals as a fan. Again then, I bear in mind telling my pals that in the future, I might play on this type of a stage. For some time, it didn’t occur and I began doing different issues together with producing music. In 2022, Savera and I began performing dwell, after which, earlier this yr, the Weekender organisers invited us to play,” says Kabeer, talking to The Higher India.

Kabeer Kathpalia (aka OAFF) performing at the NH7 Weekender music festival
Kabeer Kathpalia (aka OAFF) performing on the NH7 Weekender music pageant

Whereas on stage, Savera and OAFF carried out their newest launch ‘Hone Do Jo Hota Hai’ from the upcoming Netflix movie ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ with fellow composer Ankur Tewari and actors Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Pandey and Adarsh Gaurav who characteristic in it.

“It was a complete get together on stage! And, all the things had come full circle,” he recollects.

Kabeer went from composing advert jingles for a couple of years to releasing his debut single in 2018 with Savera. Finally, OAFF and Savera made a breakthrough in 2022 by composing the background rating and soundtrack for the movie ‘Gehraiyaan’ (starring Deepika Padukone).

Earlier than delving additional into Kabeer’s life and music, nevertheless, we requested him why he goes by the moniker ‘OAFF’. “The English phrase ‘oaff’ means a silly, awkward and foolish particular person. And once I began placing out music, I didn’t need to do it below my actual title; I wished an inventive title. Arising with OAFF, nevertheless, was extra of an inside joke between my pals and me. And I simply associated to that form of an individual, stored that as my stage title and it form of caught,” he says.

‘Music as a strategy to specific issues I can’t say with phrases’

Born and raised in Ahmedabad in a half-Punjabi and half-Gujarati household, Kabeer remembers rising up in a family stuffed with avid music listeners.

“My grandfather was an enormous music buff by way of listening to Indian and Western classical music. In the meantime, my father listened to plenty of Pink Floyd and The Beatles,” he recollects.

Kabeer recollects his mother and father placing him into totally different experimental faculties. In reality, for 2 years (in Lessons 6 and seven), he attended one such boarding faculty in Andhra Pradesh. Right here, he recollects one in all his core recollections of moving into music.

“One in all my core recollections of moving into music got here throughout my transient stint at this boarding faculty. Within the evenings, I do not forget that whereas everybody was out taking part in totally different sports activities, I used to be indoors listening to the Pulse album by Pink Floyd and studying books. That’s such an abiding reminiscence as a result of someplace down the road I began realising that music was a method for me to precise issues that I couldn’t say with phrases,” he recollects.

Following his two-year stint there, he went again to Ahmedabad and enrolled in a world faculty the place he met Savera for the primary time. Regardless that he didn’t understand it then, this encounter and their subsequent friendship would change Kabeer’s life most remarkably.

“In school, Savera had an electrical guitar, and in the future, he allowed me to take it dwelling and check out my hand at it. We quickly fashioned a punk rock band in highschool taking part in cowl songs. As soon as I began taking part in, I slowly began to immerse myself in finding out music concept and making an attempt to know how issues work,” he says.

OAFF Savera Bollywood
Kabeer Kathpalia, aka OAFF

Transferring between science and music

Following highschool, Kabeer attended FLAME College, a non-public varsity in Pune, the place he was finding out arithmetic and physics.

“Initially, I wished to turn out to be a theoretical physicist. My years in faculty had been principally about science, significantly physics and arithmetic. In addition to these pursuits, the one different factor that actually me in faculty was taking part in the guitar. Happily, I additionally met a bunch of pals in faculty who had been actually experimenting with music,” he says.

Nonetheless, there was one pal particularly from Nagaland, who actually helped Kabeer immerse himself additional in music and experiment with totally different sounds.

“Kuzo (his pal) and I might jam and give you all types of loopy concepts about music concept. However even at that time, music was one thing I did for enjoyable. As soon as I bought finished with faculty, I advised my mother and father that I wished to take a yr off to make my very own music. Fortunately, they had been cool with this resolution. Kuzo and I quickly began making music at a studio we had arrange in Ahmedabad and began placing out our work on Fb, SoundCloud, and so forth,” he says.

A turning level got here when in the future a model approached Kabeer and his pal to make music for them for which they might obtain remuneration.

“Finally, this led to extra such tasks. Then I made a decision to make the transfer to Mumbai and see what the scene is like there. So, I made my strategy to Mumbai someday round 2014–15. Even at this level, I didn’t consider myself as a musician or a composer. I used to be simply glad that I used to be getting paid to make music. It was solely a few years later down the road that I started to just accept the truth that I’m a music composer and that that is what I do,” he notes.

In Mumbai, Kabeer as soon as once more discovered Savera, they usually started by making advert jingles for manufacturers.

“Actually, I didn’t know the way folks made cash via music however quickly came upon that individuals pay composers good cash for advert jingles. As soon as a director gave me an advert to work on, and issues simply picked up. Earlier than we knew it, Savera and I had composed lots of of jingles,” he says.

Regardless of common jam classes and composing songs of their free time, it was solely in 2018 when Kabeer (below the OAFF moniker) and Savera launched their first unbiased track ‘For A Whereas’.

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What took him so lengthy to place out his first track on-line?

“As most musicians who put out their music for the primary time, you by no means really feel it’s utterly prepared. There’s at all times that feeling that you are able to do extra. I had been desirous about placing out music for therefore a few years and in the future determined to not overthink it. So, I simply dropped ‘For A Whereas’ on-line and left it alone,” recollects Kabeer.

After releasing it, he forgot concerning the track. A few weeks later, a pal of his advised him that the track had blown up on Spotify producing a very good variety of streams. Suffice to say, he was sceptical concerning the claims his pal had made. “As soon as I went on Spotify and checked the streaming numbers, it gave me larger confidence to place out extra music,” he provides.

OAFF with Savera making music for Bollywood
Mates and longtime collaborators Savera & OAFF


A few years earlier, Kabeer recollects having watched director Shakun Batra’s movie Kapoor & Sons on the theatre and coming away from it pondering that in the future he would like to compose music for his movies.

“I got here out of the theatre pondering he has such good style [in music]. Quick ahead to 2020 and I had launched ‘Perpetuate’, an instrumental monitor. A yr later, I bought this direct message (DM) from Shakun Batra on Instagram asking me if I might meet him for this new venture (Gehraiyaan) he was engaged on. I jumped on the probability to fulfill him,” he recollects.

“Shakun wished Savera and me to do the background rating for the movie as a result of he noticed that the instrumental monitor [I had put out] fitted nicely into the sonic and emotional palette of music he was trying to probe for this movie. In fact, he requested us for demos and did his due diligence on us to see whether or not we might deal with a venture of this magnitude,” he provides.

They bought the background rating gig, which was huge for them. However as Savera and Kabeer had been doing the background rating, they started questioning who was composing the songs.

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“We requested him how Savera and I might compose songs for the movie. He advised us that composing songs was slightly totally different proposition as a result of it requires approval from the producer and that there have been massive composers pitching songs for the movie too. However Shakun advised us that if Savera and I might ship songs whereas having the time and bandwidth to the rating work as nicely, we should always go for it. Savera and I made a decision that we should always ship him a track no less than,” he says.

After arising with a bunch of concepts, they despatched a tough demo for what finally grew to become ‘Doobey’ — the standout monitor from the Gehraiyaan album — and it bought permitted. Shakun had additionally heard a track of Kabeer’s referred to as ‘Frontline’, which afterward grew to become the title monitor ‘Gehraiyaan’.

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“After sending in two songs, we requested if we might ship in one other one. Shakun responded by saying that we should always do the entire album,” he provides.

Course of of creating music

“Basically, we begin off with a vibe we are attempting to discover. We’ll fiddle with our devices and attain a degree the place we really feel that that is an attention-grabbing vibe to discover. After which we’ll put down the melody, which might normally be in English,” he explains.

“Initially, we’ll type of write an English pop track as a result of that’s the form of music we grew up listening to and it’s simpler for us to phrase it in that [language]. Now we have this manufacturing with an English melody after which we current it to the director/producer. As soon as it will get permitted, the lyricist is available in after which begins writing Hindi lyrics to the identical English melody. This can be a course of in itself as a result of each language has its personal nuances,” he provides.

For a film like Gehraiyaan, Kabeer explains that the background rating and songs primarily serve the story and the characters. Given the truth that the film doesn’t have a standard song-and-dance routine with actors dancing or lip-syncing to songs, the target of creating music right here is about taking the story forward. For the reason that background rating has no lyrics, it’s about creating the stress a scene requires. A track, in the meantime, supplies a unique contact.

OAFF Savera Music Bollywood

Two years since Gehraiyaan, nevertheless, their course of of creating music has modified slightly bit.

“The best way during which we’ve got barely altered our strategy to creating music is that now we’ve got form of understood the construction of [song] writing slightly higher. We’re additionally actively making an attempt to be taught Hindi slightly higher in order that we don’t have to do that English-to-Hindi factor each time. The opposite massive distinction is that Savera and I aren’t in the identical metropolis anymore. That means of sitting on the identical laptop computer and doing issues collectively doesn’t occur on a regular basis,” he says.

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Atmospheric Pop

Like most artists, Kabeer doesn’t just like the notion that his music might be pigeonholed right into a sure style. But when we had been to explain his music sensibility, he prefers the time period ‘atmospheric pop’.

“On the one hand, I take heed to plenty of instrumental music whether or not it’s simply guitars or digital music. I like that form of music due to the introspective feeling it provides me. However, I additionally love pop music, understanding its dynamics, how you can write a very good hook and preserve the viewers engaged, and so forth. Initially, the objective was to mix each these parts into my music. Tracks like Gehraiyaan, Doobey and Bahaane have this electronica music sensibility within the manufacturing nevertheless it’s bought pop song-writing as nicely. For the Netflix movie ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ slated for launch on 26 December, we’ve gone for a extra indie rock vibe,” he explains.

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“That’s not purely electronica music anymore, it’s one thing else now. It’s a part of our evolution as artists. The concept is to do one thing new which hasn’t been explored sonically in Bollywood. We need to work with sounds that aren’t usually explored in Bollywood,” he provides.

In the meantime, Kabeer’s current success has given him the possibility to collaborate with totally different artists together with the likes of Arijit Singh and Javed Akhtar.

“The work I’ve finished to date has now given me entry to extra folks I need to collaborate with. However the holy grail is AR Rahman. Overlook collaborating, I simply need to meet him, see him work, and be taught from him. I might love to know his course of of creating music,” he says.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat; Photos courtesy Instagram/oaffmusic)


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