It’s a beautiful morning. You wake up to the rhythm of raindrops forcing their way through the door in the balcony. Sloppily, rubbing your eyes to see better of what the curtains would reveal, you are amazed at how yesterday’s heat is today’s monsoon. Within a day, it’s all more pleasing. You feel better. Less angry, less irritated, more hopeful than with a heart you slept last night.
Music is like the weather of the day. It is life, much subjective. To some it brings in their mornings, to some it concludes their nights. To some it is plugged in, no matter where the clock is ticking. It beats in the hearts of each one of us. Proven a therapy worldwide, music makes the world a better place. It knows how to be there for you (you know where we got that from).
Delhi’s rich musical heritage is undeniable and over the centuries, the capital has seen many a genres come and go; and come back. Today, the city’s music milieu stands knocking at the gates of change; it is a melting pot of genres from across the world, musicians who aren’t afraid to explore the unknown, spaces that help them thrive, and an audience hungry for innovative sounds. This World Music Day we celebrate three phenomenal musicians, who are turning up the octave in Delhi’s music scene. Independent and fierce, these women have carved their own identity with music that can make you ruminate and meditate at the same time. Say hello to Kamakshi Khanna, Pavithra Chari, and Tanya Nambiar.
Pop singer and songwriter Kamakshi Khanna recently released her second album, Cakewalk, to a resounding response. Her journey began at the young age of 12, when encouragement by her music teacher led her to join the Mozart Choir Of India, an initiative between Pt. Ravi Shankar and Gerald Wirth. Having fallen in love with orchestras and ensembles, Kamakshi’s first tryst with indie music was with Artists Unlimited, from where she moved on to be a backup vocalist for Euphoria during college years. This experience ignited a want to “create something I could call my own” and that is how the Kamakshi Khanna Collective was formed. Two albums down, she believes, “Music always saves the day and makes life a cakewalk because I get to do what I love the most and what comes naturally to me.” In other words revealing how her latest album got its name, Cakewalk, as Kamakshi believes it encapsulates her journey as a musician and human being.
Inspiration to Kamakshi is like love, “It can come from anywhere; an incident, a feeling, a person, or a song. My daily life experiences subconsciously tell my mind and body to write and compose. Once you hear that inner voice, everything else just flows.”
Talking about inspirations, Pavithra Chari, a contemporary classical crossover artist re-enunciates Kamakshi’s thoughts. The liminality of music cannot pass unnoticed, “My inspiration is a combination of my environment and my state of mind at that very moment,” says Pavithra. Student of legendary singer, Shubha Mudgal, she believes her journey to be a blessing. “I have been able to associate myself with great names at a very young age, even the struggles have been such great lessons. The most important things I’m working on right now are patience and perseverance.” She is currently working on a collaboration with the phenomenal Karsh Kale. Also, along with Advaita’s Anindo Bose (her companion in the musical duo Shadow and Light), Pavithra is working on a third album to be released in the coming months.
A classical singer, Chari is continuously experimenting with the form she loves, to make it into the form the world will fall in love with. When asked about her views on the idea of classical music in the present Delhi scene, her optimism relieves the cynic in many, “Delhi has a receptive and appreciative audience for classical music. There is a lot of awareness and interest for the genre in the independent circuit as well.”
And it is not just her. Tanya Nambiar, the Alternative/Indie artist in the city agrees with Delhi’s musical warmth, “I think the current scene is so great. There are fantastic artists for each genre. So many Indian artists are performing abroad, it’s a booming scene.” “Rise, Fall, Repeat”, these three words sum up her musical journey for Tanya. An epic adventure that has just begun, Tanya is currently working on the music video of her title track from her debut EP Good Girls Gone. Glued to the simple and meaningful in life, it is the good, the bad, and the ugly that inspires her music.
Taking it beyond the commercial, Tanya has chosen to write music that challenges set societal norms.
Her latest track “Good Girls Gone” is all about it. “It’s 2017 yet it’s easy for independent women to get labelled. I think women are badar$e and we can do what we want, so it’s just a way of giving it back to society, that good girls are now gone so what are you gonna do about it?”
As the theme of World Music Day plays across sound systems, we doff our hats to the tunes by these stellar ladies. But not without playing them the signature DSSC Rapid Fire first.
One cliché that you look forward to on the World Music Day?
Kamakshi: People spending a moment being grateful and appreciating what music has given our world and how it heals us.
Tanya: There would be at least 100 pubs hosting Sufi rock performances which would basically be bollywood cover gigs.
A habit or ritual you always follow before a performance?
Kamakshi: I do some very annoying vocal warm ups-sip and hiss, lip drills, sirens and I listen to a pumpy song that loosens me up.
Pavithra: I usually avoid too much moving around and find a quiet corner to pace myself before I go on stage.
Tanya: Have some water, try to keep quiet and then end up gossiping away until it’s time to hit the stage.
This World Music Day, the DSSC HQ is humming along these favourites. You should plug in, too. We guarantee no regrets.