Peter Cat Recording Co.: KCRW Guest DJ set

Written by Marion Hodges

7’s a party… (L to R) Karan Singh, Suryakant Sawhney, Kartik Pillai, Rohit Gupta, Dhruv Bhola, Novena Carmel, Anthony Valadez. Photo by Malorie McCall.

New Delhi quintet Peter Cat Recording Co. display an impeccable sonic palette on their breakthrough 2019 LP Bismillah — named for the Muslim prayer that in band leader Suryakant Sawhney’s own words translates to “for the love of God.” There is a certain divinity inherent in the symphonic indie rock which makes up the album, along with a healthy dose of soul. This fierce combination strikes a serious chord with the band’s devout fan base. You’ll find them currently in the middle of a two-night run of sold out shows at the Echo with three more (equally sold out) SoCal shows ahead in early June. 

All five of the band’s members — Sawhney (vocals, guitar); Kartik Pillai (guitar, trumpet); Karan Singh (drums); Dhruv Bhola (bass, samples); Rohit Gupta (trumpet, keys) — are squeezing into the studio at KCRW HQ for a freewheeling guest DJ set.

Carry on for the goods — including how a stint living in San Francisco introduced Sawhney to mind-altering substances and Neutral Milk Hotel (not necessarily in that order), a song with a “Hindi death cult” association, and Jay-Z. 

Kishore Kumar – “Chookar Mere Mann Ko Kiya Tune Kya Ishara”

Suryakant Sawhney: This is a weird song because it makes me remember my mom trying to drag me and my dad into this weird Hindu death cult. And we just left it. It was a funny thing, not a serious cult. They’re called the Brahma Kumaris — a bunch of really strange women who make a cult — and my mom's really into cults. So I just remember hearing this song on the way back [from that experience], it never left my memory.

Neutral Milk Hotel – “Two-Headed Boy”

Suryakant Sawhney: This song reminds me of my time spent living in San Francisco. My roommate introduced me to it, and I just thought it was amazing. 

Shantanu Pandit – “Dinner”

Dhruv Bhola (drums, samples): You asked us to introduce you to an under the radar South Asian artist so this is Shantanu Pandit. He’s really good, and he’s a friend. He writes really well so when you listen to his music his lyrics are something to watch out for. 

Jay-Z – “Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)”

This was a unanimous pick from the entire band, very few words are needed to explain why this one matters, just imagine a roomful of elated musicians shout-singing “NEW YORK…” at the top of their lungs. Highly encouraged behavior for those about to press play. 





Anna Chang