Mumbai pop artist Yush gets groovy on debut song ‘Carbs (Papi Player)’

By Anurag Tagat

There’s an air of cool-headedness and smooth talk that Soham Pathak seems to be born with when we speak to him about debut solo single as Yush, called ‘Carbs (Papi Player)’. Turns out the new moniker Yush (pronounced to rhyme with ‘rush’) was one of the names he was about to be given at the time of birth. “But my parents thought I needed a cooler name,” he says over the phone, the mirth in his voice clearly evident.

PC: Dark Matter

And since pop music is all about monikers, personas and more, Pathak used Yush as a new block in a career that has previously been built on stints in rock band Sparsh, film and ad work as well. “When I got the opportunity to go solo, I didn’t want to go with my name Soham since it just didn’t feel right and people I spoke to also said the same thing.”

Back in February, just before the world went into lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Yush was born as Pathak’s solo project – it meant working with new people and working with different goals in mind. Teaming with up Benchmark Studios in Thane and getting Rahul Kannan to assist in the song, ‘Carbs (Papi Player)’ is a heady concoction of groove, funk and pop. Yush goes from a sweet croon to a more imposing, shimmering voice, bearing a steely conviction to get his muse back.

He says, “This is the kind of music I wanted to make even 10 or 12 years ago. In the process, I’ve been taken back 10 years and get to revisit thoughts and decisions. I’ve been listening to Prince and Michael Jackson for a long time and in a city like Thane, I couldn’t find that many like-minded people who dug the same music and so I explored other genres.”

The artist also namedrops newer stars like The Weeknd as a major influence for Yush. Visually, some of that aesthetic comes to the front with cyberpunk-esque typography and hues, courtesy of a company known as Dark Matter. “For me, all of this is so cool, even to work on social media,” says the singer-songwriter and producer. The music itself is a straightforward earworm that even pulls its weight on the sound design front, employing an impassioned conversation between Yush and his beloved (based on real conversations), with whom he’s pleading. “I love writing love songs and even breakup songs. I’m actually crying in this song. In all, I think of ‘Carbs’ as more of a conversation about my experiences than just a song,” Yush says.

The tricky part about writing a love song, especially in pop music, is to avoid cheesiness and Yush says he grappled with that conundrum for a while when he was working on material. Yush adds, “But then I went back to the music of these artists I love – like Prince and Michael Jackson – and saw that they were just being themselves and I should too.” Additionally, the often underplayed cerebral part about pop songwriting was strengthened with Yush because Pathak began focusing on music theory as well as more guitar lessons through the course of the past year. “It feels really empowering,” he notes.

‘Carbs (Papi Player)’ is one out of three songs that Yush had readied for release, including ‘Pride and Joy’ (which Pathak counts as the first completed track for the project) and one called ‘Indian Summer’, which will release next with a music video. Pathak says, “On ‘Indian Summer’, I sing English in an Indian kind of scale. It’s got different reactions from people who have heard it so far. I figured this has to be the best song that goes out, so we made a music video.”

Simultaneously, Pathak is still pursuing film music work and ad jingles, along with other commercial projects and production gigs in Hindi and Marathi. He recounts with a laugh that after releasing ‘Carbs (Papi Player)’ earlier this month, he received a few calls from friends in the ad and film music field who wondered if he was leaving behind one world for another. “They asked if I was only going to do English now… questions like that scare you. I told them not to worry,” the artist recalls. Professing his love for ghazals and melody-centric music across languages, Pathak is keen to immerse himself in all forms of music and be influenced by it. “This is still what I want to do,” he says.