CultureMad Lifestyle Magazine – The Winter Gypsy – Interview with Tushar Singh
Adelaide indie folk six piece The Winter Gypsy are about to embark on an East Coast tour on August the 28th to celebrate the release of the bands debut EP entitled “Page I”.
In the wake of the release, Mark Moray of Wicked Rock Photography chats with frontman Tushar Singh about the inception, inspiration and aspirations of The Winter Gypsy.
Mark Moray – Hi Tush, lets start with the name of the band ‘The Winter Gypsy’ where did that name derive from?
Tushar Singh – I actually had that name in my head since 2014 when Zac, myself and the keyboard player Dave, would play a lot of backyard shows. Also the way we dressed, people would say we looked like Gypsies. We just played random instruments, harmonised with each other and had heaps of fun. The word “Gypsy” was kind of stuck in my head for a while, and I thought how cool it would be to have gypsy incorporated into a band name. One rainy day I was thinking about the word gypsy and then I thought, ‘what is my favourite season of the year’, and it was winter, so that’s where the name came from. People would also tell me that they really like listening to my songs when it was winter. It’s a calming sort of sound, so I have been told. I pieced everything together and I thought it was a good name, which seems to go with the type of music we play.
MM – In the band name, the letter ‘ß’ in Gypsy appears on your Facebook page but not elsewhere where the bands name appears. This is an unusual text replacement, so how did you decide on using this German letter called an Eszett, which actually represents a double S?
TS – I am glad you asked me that as I always forget to tell people. The word Gypsy is actually banned on Facebook, so on Facebook we have that German letter ‘ß’, but on every other social media outlet we have the letter ‘S’. The word Gypsy only recently became a banned word, as it is a bad term that is used in some parts of Europe so Facebook had to ban it. I had no idea when it happened so we had to have an alternate route, and therefore put the German ‘ß’ in. We are actually called Gypsy with the single ‘S’.
MM – There are six members of the band, yourself, Max Lambert, Dave Thompson, Issac Kerr, Jonny Knotts & Sean Helps, How did you all meet and are you all from Adelaide?
TS – All of us are from Adelaide except for Dave. Dave is originally from Canberra, and he moved here I think in 2012, and that’s when we met. We all kind of knew each other some how. I knew Max through a friend of mine, and Issac and I went to school together. Sean is the newest member of the band. He joined us this year, but Dave we actually met through a few people whom he played music with. We had a chat with him afterwards, and asked if he wanted to play with us, and he said yes, where we haven’t looked back ever since. It’s all these connections and Adelaide connections, which is great.
MM – I gather that the promotional photos were done prior to Sean joining the band, as that is why there are five members instead of six?
TS – Yes, that is why there are five instead of six in the photo.
MM – Your band is described as an Indie/Folk band, which is a relatively new genre (early 90’s, I believe) and you would have been quite young I would imagine at that time, so how did come across Indie Folk music, and who were your influences?
TS – I actually started off in a high school Punk band when I was 16. I wasn’t so much into the punk scene, I just wanted to hang out with my mates, jam and have a bit of fun, but I was always listening to Indie music and was very much into that scene. That is when I decided to pick up the guitar and teach myself how to play. It wasn’t until I was 17 or 18 that I started playing more acoustic guitar and I really loved the sound of it. I started searching out more acoustic artists. Like The Bombay Bicycle Club, Elliot Smith, and then Jack Johnson, John Butler Trio, and all of a sudden I was hooked on Bon Iver, Bon Iver is probably my biggest influence. I then started to have a great love for Indie Folk music.
MM – Before you took up guitar you were a singer. Did you ever see yourself as a singer in a band?
TS – That’s what I started off doing when I was in a punk band, but no not really. I really started singing when I was 16. I did it for fun and I guess and my love in playing guitar grew on me, and then I started to sing along, trying to match my vocals to other artists and realised that I wasn’t too bad singing for the genre that I was hoping for. I kept at it and really started to love it.
MM – Your new EP “Page 1” which is also the title of the first song, I found to be beautifully composed both lyrically and musically. I wondered if you ever had considered it being just an instrumental introduction to the EP by not having the lyrics?
TS – No, I never thought of that. Actually the instrumental came in after the song was finished, but speaking of that, during our live performances, we do have a long instrumental that we work on with ‘Page 1’, but we didn’t record that way. ‘Page 1’ actually goes for another three and a half minutes, which is all instrumental. We thought that it sounds really cool jamming it, so we said lets put it into our live performances. The piano actually at the end of that song was actually improvised by Dave, which sounds really nice.
MM – You chose “Took Me By” to be the first single off the EP which is accompanied by an amazing film clip, can you tell me how you came to write such a deep and emotional song?
TS – That song was actually about my mum when she was suffering from cancer. I wrote that song about three years after she got better because I only started to play guitar and write songs at a later stage. It was a song more about how I felt and what emotions I was going through at that time. I chose words and short sentences rather than making it long song lyrically. It probably sounds a bit cryptic.
MM – The video clip “Took By Me” is quite artistically filmed and directed by Gerard Wood. Where was it filmed, and how did that relationship come about?
TS – I am so happy about the way the video turned out; it’s beyond words for me to describe it. I am a very close friend with Gerard’s younger brother as we were at school together. Gerard knew I always played music, and I knew Gerard made films with his mate, and that they have their own company. He is very much into the type of music that I play, and it wasn’t until quite recently that he came to a gig of ours, and after the show, he pulled me aside and asked if I ever needed someone to film, like a live recording of a show, to contact him and let him know. A month later, I sent Gerard a message advising him that I was ready to film. I then sent him the recording of ‘Took Me By’, which he loved and said, “Let’s work on this”. I had a few ideas planned. We caught up for a coffee to organise a time for filming, and as he was very busy, we could only book in a one-day slot, which was available. So the video was done in one take. We actually practiced it four times before it was filmed, and that one take we did was just perfect. The setting was really easy to find as Gerard had been there before. It’s an abandoned railway line that is actually up in Mt Barker, which is close to us. So Dave, Max and I went to check it out, and went “wow this is amazing.” It was picture perfect. We wouldn’t need to do anything to it. All the ideas for the video clip came as we were there, and so that night, I started to write down all the things I wanted people to do, and tried to organise it in such a way that it would make it an easy day for everyone.
MM – The EP was released on August 5th earlier this month, how has the response been so far?
TS – Really good. We have received lots of messages from friends and other musicians from Adelaide. We also managed to sell a few Cd’s especially at our gigs where people really love it. The best part about the EP is that they all have their individual preferred songs. What I like about the EP is that each track has it’s own individual sound.
MM – Where to now for ‘The Winter Gypsy’ after the release of your first EP ‘Page1’?
TS – We have been planning a tour of the East Coast; probably more like a holiday, where we can explore the places rather than play a gig one night and leave the next day or even the very same night. We want to enjoy it a little bit more. Should be fun as it is our very first official tour as a band. A lot of us haven’t really toured before. I think Max is the only one that has toured before from the band. We are very excited and can’t wait to experience it all out there.
MM – Finally, have you considered playing at WOMADelaide since you are local to the area and what I believe is that your band would be perfect for the festival?
TS – Absolutely. I very much wanted the band to be part of WOMADelaide. We were thinking about applying for it for next year’s event, and since we now have the EP out, and everything about us is out there. It would have been a good time, but I think we missed out because we were too late as the applications had closed about a month ago, so looking towards the future, we maybe fortunate enough to play there in 2018.
‘THE WINTER GYPSY’ EAST COAST TOUR DATES
Sunday 28 August
BAR OPEN, FITZROY MELBOURNE
18+ – Tickets on the door
Sunday 4 September
THE JADE, ADELAIDE
All Ages – Tickets on the door
Thursday 8 September
PLAYBAR, SURRY HILLS SYDNEY
18+ – Tickets on the door
Saturday 10 September
SMITH’S ALTERNATIVE, CANBERRA ACT
All Ages – Tickets on the door
Saturday 17 September
THE EXETER, ADELAIDE
18+ – Tickets on the door