UPDATE: After a massive 3 and a half hours of playing and talking about his life, his work, and a hundred other things, Siddhartha Khosla’s gig is over. But thanks to the magic of Internet, you can still watch the concert online at the link provided below!
Whenever someone questions how I’m able to fall in love with and obsess about something as abstract as music, I toss them a Goldspot song; it tends to shut them up quite quickly.
Goldspot has remained a critical darling since their public introduction by New York’s DJ Nic Hardcourt in 2005; since then, their music has featured in countess “Top Ten” lists. Siddhartha Khosla and his constantly-changing line-up of musicians have done everything from touring India and the US to singing at the White House Diwali celebrations to crooning to a flock of geese, and won countless hearts at their live shows on both sides of the Atlantic.
Siddhartha Khosla’s ability to mine his past to use as an influence for his current music endeavours makes his music incredibly relevant and accessible to a wide audience. His lyrics speak of the positives and the negatives of his life, and translate them in a way that makes them relatable to his listeners. It’s the sort of work that reminds you why music is considered art.
It’s been 2 years since Goldspot last came to India, and though it may be a while yet before they’re back in corporeal form, Siddhartha is bringing us the next best thing:
At approximately 5 PM Indian time (GMT + 5:30) today (23rd April, 2014) Siddhartha will be playing a live gig from his desk, to be broadcast live thanks to Pepsi MTV Indies. Siddhartha’s charisma and talent makes for a compelling argument as to why you should tune in, but in case you need reminding, we’ve provided 5 more songs to showcase why you need to watch this gig:
If The Hudson Overflows
“What’s the use in worrying about the ways in which the world might come to an end? When all along, there’s been a book on the side of the bed that you’ve never read instead?”
“If The Hudson Overflows” was featured on Season 8 of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother in what I would argue is the single best musical moment on the show (rivaled possibly only by Season 5’s “Rewind,” again by Goldspot).
The song has a simple, clear message: Don’t worry and don’t wait. The way this message is presented, however, is anything but that.
Over the course of four minutes, Siddhartha Khosla’s time-displaced, reassuring voice sends us on a beautiful journey to bring us face to face with our own mortality; upon doing so, however, he calmly reassures us that everything’s going to be okay, and for these four minutes it’s almost believable.
Backed by a barely-noticeable repetitive harmonium, softly picked guitars and a constantly present booming percussive drum that hides within itself, “If The Hudson Overflows” is perfect for those late night moments of panic about where life is heading.
“If the Hudson Overflows” was also downloadable as a single on iTunes with all proceeds going to help in the post-Hurricane Sandy reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, because Goldspot is just that wonderfully nice a band.
2. The Border Line
It’s hard to pick which aspect of “The Border Line” is more appealing: the song itself, or the accompanying video. “The Border Line,” another song off Aerogramme, follows the theme of most of the other songs in the album in talking about the dichotomy of being born in one place and raised in another, and the mix-and-match of cultures that this results in. Siddhartha Khosla’s sense of being split down the middle comes through strongly in the song:
“Atoms escape in the middle of the night when my heart and head collide.”
All of this is done against a jangly, foot-stomping, hand-clapping rhythm and melody that takes the best of modern indie sensibilities and steeps it in ‘60s pop from both the East and West, making a musical tea that leaves you warm and glowing hours after the last foot-stomps fade away. The Border Line works brilliantly as a song, but works even better when heard while watching the gorgeous, gorgeous video by long-time collaborator Nick Collett. The video features a montage of clips of people from all over the world engaged in that common unifying factor: dance. Nick Collett’s video brings people together across time and distance with a sincerity and earnestness that no Coca Cola advertisement could. Also watch out for the interspersed shots of Khosla jamming while channeling his finest ‘60s Rajesh Khanna!
“I hear there’s a wind that takes these plans and runs, but don’t worry; don’t worry, we’ll make new ones.”
Goldspot is often compared to the Beatles for their musical sensibilities and their ability to elevate what should be a straightforward pop song into something that is sublime and deep.
It’s not a talent that’s held by a lot of people, and it’s what makes listening to Siddhartha Khosla’s live sets so enriching: his ability to strip down, layer, mix, chop up and altogether rework the basic elements of his music in countless different ways and still present something fresh and attractive.
“Foundation,” which was written for the indie film Today’s Special, continues the jangle-pop mélange of styles and sounds that Goldspot espouses, only this time in the form of a love song. Siddhartha Khosla captures your heart with both his voice and his bouzouki, backed by a full and rich mix of rattling drums and guitars.
And continuing in his tradition of being an all-around stand-up guy watch this video of Siddhartha and his bouzouki singing for Aidan, a young boy with cancer:
Goldspot’s second album, And the Elephant is Dancing deals with some very complex and sometimes dark themes in the guise of sugar-coated indie pop, and “Emily” is a great example of this.
Lurking beneath the surface of the song, which features the same ever-present booming-drum backbone found in “If The Hudson Overflows” mixed with classic RD Burman string flourishes and a magically velvet keyboard, lies a story of profound loss. It’s impossible not to empathize with the protagonist’s attempts to reconnect with his lost love:
“See, I tried to kiss you through the pillow on my right; and oh, Emily, will you marry me again?”
“Friday” represents the perfect case for the argument that Goldspot is what the Beatles would sound like today. Despite being more than 8 years old now, “Friday” is as timeless and fresh as it was in 2005. It was played in heavy rotation both in India and in the US back then, and deserves to have the same attention now.
The song starts with swishy strings straight from ‘70s Bollywood that segues into a catchy rhythm guitar that is altogether transformed by Khosla’s voice. “Friday” is straightforward, but earnest; simple but sincere. It’s impossible not to like it, because it does absolutely everything right. The conviction and clarity with which Khosla implores “give me a sign” is unrivalled, and the Kishore Kumar strings that reappear during the breakdown and in the outro is goosebump-inducing, for all the right reasons.
“Friday” also comes in a Hindi acoustic version sung to a rapt audience of ducks and geese in Regents Park, because sometimes life really is just that awesome:
Take a break from exams. Skip a class. Sneak in a break from work (or better yet, call your boss over! They may give you a raise in the process). Grab a friend, a lover, a loved one, a pet. Watch this gig! And maybe make some noise online to try and get Siddhartha and co. to come back to India soon!
Gig Link: http://www.youtube.com/PepsiMTVIndies
Unfortunately, it’s incredibly tough to find CD issues of Goldspot’s music in India, but their latest album Aerogramme is available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/in/album/aerogramme/id722046205