B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Auyon Mukharji: Our band’s mascot is The Unicorn of Friendship. It’s like an ox, except with one horn instead of two, and less muscular. Built for comfort, not for yoking.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Mukharji: Music was always something I did — my mother, an iron-willed individual, forced me to play the violin from a young age — but the joy of making music wasn’t something I appreciated until I started songwriting with the other guys.
B&L: How did Darlingside come together? Why did Darlingside come together?
Mukharji: I can’t speak for the band at large, but I personally ended up in music mostly because of my friendship with the other guys in college. We all sang together in a singing group in school, and then we just kept going afterwards.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show? What do you look or hope for as you step foot on that stage?
Mukharji: A solid rapport with the audience is one of the most important ingredients. We like to employ our not-so-secret weapon, the slightly overwhelming enthusiasm of our cellist Harris, early in the set to let people know that we are happy to be there and we hope they are too.
I also am fond of disco balls. Usually one per venue, but it felt weird to write it in the singular.
B&L: Is it weird to set foot onstage and prop up to play in front of a room full of strangers? Or does that add some excitement to the engagement?
Mukharji: After spending years playing show after show in front of small and random assortments of family members, friends, and indebted acquaintances, it is really satisfying to now not know all of the people in the audience. We remain grateful that people who don’t know us personally are willing to spend an evening hanging out with us.
B&L: Let’s talk about your latest album, “Extralife.” What were the goals surrounding this record? What have you learned from past recording experiences that might have helped shape this current effort?
Mukharji: The primary goal was to make an album, which I’m happy to say we did successfully. All four of us write, arrange, and record together, and rather than discuss overarching goals beforehand, we like to throw our heads together and see what happens to come out of our four-way group consciousness without any premeditated constraints.
All of these processes (writing, recording, and arranging) evolve from project to project, and I’d say one of the most fun bits of this last album involved bringing in friends (shout outs to Caitlin Canty, Jon Dely, and Alec Spiegelman!) to help fill out the vision.
B&L: What do you appreciate about using voice as an instrument? Were vocal harmonies part of the strategic plan out of the gate, or did it evolve into that sort of thing?
Mukharji: As mentioned earlier, we met singing together in college, so continuing to do so was pretty natural. One thing we’ve grown to appreciate is how much the timbre of any member’s voice changes depending on what register he’s in. Harris, for example, has a comforting fireplace of a bass range, but his falsetto up high is a foghorn.
B&L: Who or what inspired your exploration of utilizing vocal harmonies as the driving force of Darlingside’s music?
Mukharji: I think it’s merely just the enjoyment we get out of singing together and figuring out organically where we can take things as a collective unit. Rather than assigning any one person to always sing low or high, we like to change things up depending on who sounds best where within a given chord. Inspiration is in the exploration itself.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Mukharji: “Boys” by Henry Jamison.
B&L: If you had one song left to sing (ever), what might it be? Something you’ve written, something you have yet to write, or something somebody else wrote?
Mukharji: “Happy Birthday” seems like it would be the most useful.
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform at the Exeter Town Hall on May 18th?
Mukharji: Songs that we have written, performed live! Also, Lyle Brewer, a spectacular guitarist based in Boston, will be opening up the show. This will be our first time sharing the stage with him and we are excited.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Darlingside will be taking the stage at the historic Exeter Town Hall on Saturday, May 18th. Tickets and more information can be found here.