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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell Artists: Sorry We’re Late

Student band Sorry We’re Late, made up of Saketan Anand ’21, Charun Upara ’21, Declan O’Reilly ’21 and Rexford Essilfie ’22, opens for a concert held in the Gardner Lounge in the spring of 2019. by Saketan Anand.

The concert in Gardner Lounge was supposed to start two minutes ago. The only person on stage waits patiently by his guitar. He doesn’t appear to be worried, and soon enough, three other musicians file on, picking up their instruments and adjusting their microphones. “Hello,” the guitarist says, smiling. “We’re Sorry We’re Late.”

Sorry We’re Late is a band composed of Saketan Anand ’21 on guitar and vocals, Rexford Essilfie ’22 on keys, Declan O’Reilly ’21 on drums and Charun Upara ’21 on bass.

“We have a lot of different styles of music in our overall sound,” Upara explained. “We have a more soft rock song, we have a more upbeat song, we have one where it just ends in some epic organ sax solo.”

All four of the band members have been involved with music at Grinnell since they arrived. O’Reilly and Anand played together in Latin American ensemble and Upara and Anand knew each other since before they got to Grinnell.

Anand mostly wrote songs on his own his first year. “I’d always written singer-songwriter kinds of songs,” said Anand. He had wanted to form a band but couldn’t find the right people. In 2018, Essilfie proved to be the missing piece. The four musicians got together for a session.

“We jammed once and then we didn’t even ask each other, we just got into it,” Anand said. Sorry We’re Late was founded in October 2018.

Most recently, the band has opened a concert at Gardner on September 7 and played the medallion ceremony during New Student Orientation. They are also soon to release a recorded single, which they tracked in the attic studio of Jon Edwards, Grinnell’s senior associate director of admissions and coordinator of international admission.

Edwards has known the group since they first got together. Initially, Sorry We’re Late just enjoyed having a space to play and hear their own music back. Over time, the plan changed.

“We decided that when they got back [to Grinnell] we were going to do it more seriously, so we just did a track just a couple weeks ago,” Edwards said.

The band collaborates with artists frequently, whether that’s other student musicians that they pull up on stage or the student artists who have been working on Sorry We’re Late’s new music video, Tess Kerkhof ’21 and Veronica Thomas ’21.

“Veronica does things with film, and I do things with graphics, so Sak reached out to both of us with our respective talents to just help out,” Kerkhof said. She and Thomas hope to put emphasis on Sorry We’re Late’s growth over the past year: “I feel like something that we’re trying to capture in this music video is an odyssey,” Thomas explained. “I feel like we can all attest to our time at Grinnell being much more about the process than the product.”

Each member of Sorry We’re Late has also noted their development as musicians. “I’m from a traditionally classical music background mainly, so being able to experience all of these new and funky chords was a learning experience for me,” Essilfie said.

While the group noted their past growth, they’re just as focused on the future. “I want our band to become a memory even after we’re gone. I want people to yell our lyrics with us and stuff, I want to be part of that history,” Anand said. But looking around the room at their concert at Gardner, it wasn’t hard to see that Sorry We’re Late was already leaving impressions. By the end of the set, the audience was yelling right alongside Anand as he sang about a certain feline felony. The concert may have started a minute behind schedule, but an apology, it seems, can go a long way.

The exact dates have yet to be announced for Sorry We’re Late’s recorded single and music video’s release. In the meantime, keep an eye out for news on their Instagram,

Student band Sorry We’re Late, made up of Saketan Anand ’21, Charun Upara ’21, Declan O’Reilly ’21 and Rexford Essilfie ’22, opens for a concert held in the Gardner Lounge in the spring of 2019. Contributed by Saketan Anand.
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