Fusing their own brand of energy with some incredible melodies, boy band Sanam reached an impressive peak in 2015. The group consisting of Venky S on bass, Samar Puri on guitar, Keshav Dhanraj on drums and frontman Sanam Puri have become the biggest pop music sensation in India.
The band’s YouTube channel has surpassed a staggering 11 million views per month and 100 million lifetime views, putting them on top of the leaderboard not only in terms of music artists but also across popular genres like comedy. Subscribers to their channel and fans of their Facebook page have also grown aggressively crossing over a million cumulatively.
The band not only covers songs by other artists, but has a solid base of their own songs, too. Sanam also records in English, even though it’s only covers. Watch Sanam Puri’s take on Sam Smith’s I’m Not The Only One or even the Christmas classic, Mary Did You Know.
Qyuki signed Sanam over a year ago and worked closely with them providing technology, media, rights management and production support to help drive the massive surge in growth and fandom for India’s #FAB4.
Our music columnist VERUS FERREIRA met the band at a music event in Mumbai to learn about their journey.
How did you guys begin your rendezvous with music?
Venky: I watched a lot of MTV and Channel V while growing up in the early 90’s; that meant watching music videos of Queen, Michael Jackson, Guns N’ Roses, Take That, Boyz II Men, Whitney, Mariah, Nirvana, and a few others. Indipop was at its peak on TV. My mum loved watching Hindi movies so I used to watch them with her and in turn got to listen to many popular Bollywood songs.
Keshav: My brother Arjun was always into music. I was first introduced to music he listened to and also started my first band with him. After that, I began to explore different instruments and different styles of music. I learnt by going for concerts and watching other musicians perform.
Samar: Music was always there. All credit goes to my parents. They have always supported me and Sanam.
Sanam Puri: Both Samar and I started off by composing songs for mom and dad whenever we felt like surprising them. This was at the age of 6-7. Since then a lot has happened in music like competitions, shows, forced singing in parties where mom and dad would tell everyone, “Samar and Sanam sing”. I started learning to play the keyboard and have been composing a lot since childhood. I used to listen to a lot of pop music like Westlife, NSync but slowly cut down on listening to artists and concentrated more on composing music.
You are originally from Muscat. How did the shift to India happen?
Venky: Samar and I were batchmates in Indian School, Muscat. Both of us played guitar so we started a band together and got Sanam to join because he was a singer. We learnt to jam on Green Day, The Ramones, Busted, Bon Jovi, Metallica. The three of us moved to India to study in college. Sanam became active on the college rock circuit in Delhi, performing in bands like Decibel and Bandish. He was also winning best vocalist titles in many competitions. Samar started to write original songs in Hindi and some of Samar-Sanam’s songs written in this period like Badalne Ke Intezaar Mein were well received. I was active in Bangalore and played bass with bands like Soundproof, Haven and Chronic Blues Circus. I sang a capella in college and started performing swing/jazz and pop standards at different clubs.
Keshav: I was the drummer of Nerverek and Buzz Theory (based in Chennai). We eventually formed an alternative rock outfit called The Previous Band. I used to travel to Chennai and enjoyed the process of writing songs. Unfortunately, we had a short stint as a band playing just 4-5 gigs as two band members joined Musicians Institute in LA, California, for a music education and another member enrolled SAE in Byron Bay. In 2009, Samar and Sanam moved to Mumbai to pursue a music career.
Venky: Keshav also moved to Mumbai to take up a job with Furtados as brand manager for Zildjian, Evans and Pearl Drums. I connected the three of them and had a feeling that they would hit it off because of their love for pop and alternative rock.