Let’s start with the pandemic. How have things changed from containment until today?
I think I worked more during the confinement. I like the fact that in my job I can work from the comfort of my home. I recorded a lot of songs from home. Now things are starting to open up, but in a very conscious way.
Lockdown, in a way, has given music figures like you the chance to explore more of non-cinematic stuff. How do you plan to move this forward?
I have been living in Canada since confinement because my father is not doing well. As much as I wanted to come here and record, it’s more important for me to take care of him. Fortunately, my family situation has improved now, so my current plan is that if my father continues to remain stable, I will come here from time to time to work on projects. I’m in India after a year, but I’m here for a month, touring and recording. The good thing is that the moment people know I’m there, the job starts to happen. Everyone wants to record while I’m there, and sometimes it gets a little hectic, but I like that rush.
Is there a difference in the way you record in the studio now?
At home, when recording, there are times when you also hear the noises of the vegetable vendors, especially during the day, or of someone coughing. And you have to start all over again, which doesn’t happen when you record in the studio. Other than that, I think it’s the safest way to go, at least for now. I don’t know how many people disinfect microphones after each recording. And the compartment in which we record is not exactly well ventilated.
That said, I know the studios are taking all precautions against Covid-19. I walked into a studio for the first time since the pandemic a few days ago, and all safety procedures were followed. The feeling of recording in a studio is certainly different – you have the consoles, the composer on the other side of the glassâ¦ There is a certain vibe. When you come into the studio after a long time, it’s sort of like a first experience. Even though you have recorded 500 songs, there is something new about it. I really enjoyed that feeling this time around.
What work are you involved in at the moment?
I’m making a single for a popular audio label, which is a recreation of a popular Hindi song. I’m working on my EP with Keba Jeremiah. It is entirely acoustic – vocals and guitars. It is tentatively called Sweet Nothing. It’s a very intimate EP. There is another EP that I plan to do by the end of the year or early 2022. It completely depends on how the first EP will play out. I do singles with Neeti Mohan, Harshdeep Kaur and Abhijit Srivastava, who did Chashni in Bharat. There is also a collaboration with Amrit Ramnath and Neeti. Amrit arranged the song, and it’s such a beautiful song. He is a very talented youngster. As for the films, I have recorded six to seven songs in Tamil and Hindi, but I cannot reveal the plans at the moment.
Has the indie music scene picked up during the lockdown? Do you think people listen to a lot more non-cinematic music than in 2017 or 2018?
Oh, great moment! Indie is the next big thing. There are so many underground artists who are suddenly in the limelight. When you look at the quality of their content, you ask yourself, “Where have all these people gone so far? And you realize that they have been eclipsed by other forms of music. It’s like a breath of fresh air when you listen to their new sounds and new feelingsâ¦ feelings you don’t talk about in movie songs. In commercial cinema, we have a predefined skeleton around which the lyrics are written, around which the production is based. I think the purest form of music is indie music. There is no embellishmentâ¦ no production to add to the greatness of the song. Even in the film industry, if you listen to people like Santhosh Narayanan, you see that rawnessâ¦ an earthy side that is endearing. I think indie music has helped us connect to our roots and we hear more of it than we were used to hearing a few years ago. Containment has largely contributed to this.
Now that a backing video is a must for any song, does that add to the pressure on the musicians? Like coming up with a unique concept for the video and looking fabulous on screenâ¦ stuff that isn’t singing, basically.
It’s something that I think about constantly. It is a very difficult place to live in today and I can only speak here from my point of view. I dig into simplicity. Unless I’m doing a stage performance, I’m not overdressed. Because this simplicity is part of my identity and I don’t want to present myself in a way that I am not. If I like to put my hair in a messy bun, it’s because I like it and that’s who I am. And this is how I will introduce myself in a video. Obviously you have to be presentable, but at the same time you can be yourself. When I am part of a property owned by an audio label, I try to find a happy medium. When it comes to how we appear on stage or in a video, I think that appeal is something that artists should be allowed to take. You see this in the West. If you watch Billie Eilish, she doesn’t dress and take the stage like a diva, but like herself, which makes her so close. At the same time, she’s also created her own identityâ¦ the green she walks out in, the way she colors her hair, the way she projects herselfâ¦ She’s not 36-26-36. She is very comfortable in shorts, oversized t-shirt and sneakers. I dig that. For me, that makes his music relatable. Musicians who have great content should never hesitate to be who they are. The message they should project is: “If you connect to our music, you will also connect to me without my having to resort to embedding my physical image.”