Masala Coffee’s Founder Varun Sunil Speaks on Crafting Musical Magic for Malayalam Film ‘Valatty’ and Much More

Malayalam films in the present day are known for their impeccable technical features, setting a high standard. Valatty – Tail of Tales lives up to this expectation, taking viewers on a journey through romance, pregnancy, and perilous situations with the guidance of charming dogs. The movie, written and directed by Devan, showcases a unique Malayalam theme. Notably, the voice overs for the primary animal characters were given by renowned actors and celebrities such as Roshan Mathew, Soubin, Indrans, Aju Varghese, and others. What truly sets the film apart is the melodious music that captivates listeners and perfectly complements the visuals. Varun Sunil, the talented musician from the beloved band Masala Coffee, has created an album that will evoke joy and bring tears of happiness to your eyes. His outstanding musical score beautifully enhances each scene, demonstrating his expertise in crafting the perfect soundtrack.

In an exclusive interview with News18, Varun Sunil opens up about his journey as a music director, his experiences with Masala Coffee, upcoming projects, and everything related to his craft. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Firstly, congratulations on your debut as a music director with ‘Valatty’! Could you share some of the difficulties you faced during the process?

Thank you! Well, ‘Valatty’ is a multilingual film primarily in Malayalam. To maintain quality and ensure a cohesive recording process, I took charge and personally oversaw the recording of artists from various regional languages, including Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil. It was indeed a challenging task, but I was determined to handle everything myself and ensure that the film received the treatment it deserved without compromising on quality.

You have been involved in various musical ventures as the frontman of Masala Coffee. How did your time with the band influence your approach to composing music for ‘Valatty’?

Having performed for over 16-17 years, my musical journey has been deeply shaped by live performances rather than commercial music. Being a part of a band allows me to experience the gradual process of creating music during concerts, where different instruments come together to build a song. This experience has been invaluable to me. When it comes to composing music, I already have an idea of how each instrument fits in the overall performance. Masala Coffee, along with its talented musicians, played a significant role in enhancing the songs of ‘Valatty’. Each band member brought their unique style and flavor to the compositions, enriching them further.

Masala Coffee is known for its fusion sound. Did you incorporate any fusion elements into the album to give ‘Valatty’ a distinct musical personality?

Absolutely! Viewers have already noticed this when watching the film. One of the songs features a rap segment with the inclusion of a traditional Indian percussion instrument called the mridangam. This fusion element was something new and unexpected for the audience. We also have a funk song called “Shwanare” in which we start with a brass section and gradually introduce other elements, including the veena played by Rajesh Vaidya. These fusions, along with a Carnatic classical interlude, add diversity and uniqueness to the album. Masala Coffee, as a band and its musicians, have played a crucial role in bringing these fusion elements to life. Incorporating fusion was essential for ‘Valatty’, and I have always believed in experimenting and pushing boundaries in my music.

Music plays a significant role in a film like ‘Valatty’. How did you ensure that your compositions perfectly captured the emotional aspects of the movie?

I was very particular about recording most of the songs using live instruments rather than programmed sounds. While programming can be effective, recording live instruments brings a certain authenticity and impact to the music. Of course, synthesizers and electronic sounds can be programmed, but I wanted the majority of the instruments to be recorded live. This approach allows the tonality and overall sound of the compositions to shine. Additionally, I wanted to include instruments that are not commonly performed by Masala Coffee, such as the veena, flute, and Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra. Collaborating with world-class musicians for these recordings truly elevated the colors and flavors of the film. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled the world with Masala Coffee and collaborated with international musicians, so I knew exactly which instruments would best suit each song.

Could you share any amusing anecdotes or experiences you had while composing the music for ‘Valatty’?

Generally, I prefer to work in a quiet space, whether it’s with my band or someone else. There have been various memorable experiences throughout this journey. One particular moment stands out when I was composing the climax song of the film alongside the director. We decided to change the instrument from a normal classical guitar to a charango, and that single change completely transformed the color and vibe of the song. Witnessing the director’s happiness and excitement was truly wonderful because that unique choice made a significant difference.

I also want to mention the producers, Friday Film House, Vijay Babu, and Vinay Babu. They were incredibly supportive and ensured that we had the best musicians for our recording sessions. For example, when we confirmed a 60-piece orchestra for the background score, it was a dream come true for me. We had a four-hour recording session, and it was an experience I will cherish forever. The producers went above and beyond to make sure everything was perfect.

In your opinion, is it necessary for a music composer to be a performer as well?

Personally, I believe that every music composer should be a performer. As a composer, you are responsible for producing the entire song. In the future, if a client wants to hear the song performed live, having the ability to perform the song adds another dimension to your work. As a violinist myself…



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