Through their band, The Coconut Milk Project, Chennai-based Goutham Kumar and Pavithra Krishnaswamy are creating music that is aimed at starting a dialogue around aspects of mental health like anxiety, alienation, hopelessness.
A self-taught guitarist working with a non-profit organisation, Goutham, during a meeting with his friend Pavithra Krishnaswamy, a trained Carnatic singer, decided to turn the lines he had written into music. That was how their band, The Coconut Milk Project, was born — with an aim to throw light on issues that aren’t commonly spoken about in the society, through music. “Both of us had met when we were working together. Over time, we began jamming and sharing our music with our friends, who asked us to perform the music we were making for students at various schools. Even though we initially didn’t have the plan to form a band, as we only wanted to write songs, we eventually became a band and started performing at open mic events to reach out to a larger audience,” the duo tells DT Next.
Their originals address an array of issues — from anxiety, loneliness, hopelessness to appreciating people in our lives. “Our idea is to write songs about experiences that many of us go through, but don’t openly discuss. We have been singing about issues that are relatable to people and believe that we have managed to set off a few conversations whenever we performed. We have had people telling us that songs we wrote made them relate to their personal experiences. Our philosophy is to create something beyond words and evoke emotions,” adds 27-year-old Pavithra, who works in the marketing domain with a city firm.
The rather interesting name to the band comes from the aspect that Pavithra and Goutham are both vegans. “We keep talking about vegan cooking, in which coconut milk is a staple. We also have a Kerala connection — Goutham is a Malayali and I am married to one. So, we joked about calling ourselves The Coconut Milk Project, and it stuck,” she explains.
After their full-time jobs, the duo meets twice or thrice a week to share their ideas for new songs and also creates covers of popular Tamil, English and Hindi music. They use instruments like guitar, ukulele, harmonica and shakers (which they’ve created themselves out of rice in a jar) to accompany their music. Chennai’s performance venues have allowed them to be heard by many people, they add. “We would like to explore more opportunities to perform and take our music to more people. For any artiste, recognition is important, and we would like that too, while staying true to our ideologies,” they sign off.