Traversing the Musical World with Siddharth Pandit
Hello Readers, For this edition, we have an exciting feature for you to read!
A renowned music composer and producer, Siddharth Pandit, has worked for films like Uri: The Surgical Strike, Raag Desh and has released independent albums like the Azad Sangeet Season 1 and 2.His music, undeniably has a dreamy, experimental (and we’d gladly say magical) properties to it. In the following interview, he shares with us his inspirations, journey and what music symbolizes for him.
1. What drew you to music in the first place? Who or what inspired you to set foot on this journey, and how did you overcome the initial challenges?
My mama Ji (uncle) bought me a small Casio keyboard when I was around 5. Since then, I developed an interest and started playing almost every day. Nobody in our family is a musician, but my Mama had a keen ear for music and he exposed me to some really beautiful music in my nascent years. Music was just another thing that kept coming naturally to me as a kid and I never realised how good or bad I’m at it. But it was around my 16th year of growing up when A.R Rahman Sir’s KM Music Conservatory had newly been founded in Chennai, and it was my mother who advised me to make my journey into music. It was definitely a risky one to take up, as we come from a humble background and the town I grew up in only encouraged students to opt for engineering, IITs, NITs while pursuing a career in Music was almost unimaginable for us. My parents supported me throughout this journey despite all these challenges.
2. How would you describe the music that you typically create and what message do you want to deliver to your audience and fans?
I believe that as an artist I should be able to express what I’m feeling with utter honesty and sincerity. Life plays a big role in that. There are feelings you may want to express and sometimes words may not do them justice. My only attempt is to try and be genuine with that expression, every time I make a song. This expression has to exist without any pretence, agenda or chasing numbers. I just want to be true at that moment, so whenever I hear something I have created, I can always tell it was truthfully done. It helps me connect with like-minded listeners who pick up on this truthfulness and connect with the music, and I feel extremely grateful and humbled about it. Even if one person feels inspired, and feels the courage to be untouched and unaffected by any of society’s opinions about art, being or mere existence, and can unapologetically be themselves, I feel the purpose of that song has been served.
3. What is your favourite part of being a musician? Do you have a process or ritual you follow before you perform?
My favourite part about being a musician is the freedom I get to experience. It makes me feel liberated and gives me the opportunity to be who I am. There is no pre-performance ritual per se, as I mostly make music for a larger part of my day. However, I do try and keep a clear mind and a clear headspace before I sit down to make anything. I truly believe good music comes out of a good heart and state of mind, so it’s very important for all musicians to be filled with positivity in their hearts.
4. It’s been 5 months since the last track from your latest Album ‘Azaad Sangeet – Season 2’ came out. Have you been working on anything since then? How has this year been for you as an artist?
This year truly was difficult and uncertain and it hasn’t been any different for me. The number of projects that saw the light of day was scarce, and everything constantly got delayed and/or cancelled. I tried to create Azaad Sangeet Season 2 during the peak of lockdown since the movement was restricted, so we had to record everyone online from their homes in different parts of the country. We even had musicians from overseas like Romania and Africa. It was fun and satisfying and an enriching process all in all, as we all could connect at the concurrence of being restricted inside our homes, yet trying to create music. Recently, my film work started resuming and a few of my film releases are set for early 2022 as a Score Producer and Music Producer, some of them being Attack starring John Abraham, “Faraaz” and “Netflix: Modern Love 3” directed by Hansal Mehta. Although these are film projects, what I’m excited most about is creating Azaad Sangeet Season 3, which is full of surprises this time around and I will be finishing the album in March. Currently, I’m recording the songs in Chennai and I hope all goes well with it.
5. In the videos that you put up on your IG page, you’re often seen using a variety of instruments. Is there any instrument (among those you haven’t used before) that you’d like to experiment with within your upcoming tracks?
With my next album Azaad Sangeet Season 3, I’m trying to record a live orchestra, and looking to experiment with all kinds of instruments and musicians from various backgrounds. I like to connect different instruments that might not necessarily belong to the same family but fit absolutely perfectly in an arrangement. In ‘Dos’ from season 1, I used a Sarangi intro which leads to a Bossa brush kind of groove that becomes the backbone of the song. I really wish to learn and use this instrument called ‘Harpeji’ in my upcoming songs. It’s an amalgamation of guitar and piano, and I hope I can learn and play it someday.
6. Also, while we’re on that topic, please describe your room/studio a little – where all the magic takes place.
I have a very modest setup; a sound card, a pair of monitors, a mic and a laptop. But it does the work and I try to keep upgrading my equipment just to catch up with the ever involving thing that tech is. Other than that, I do my best to keep my setup portable enough to travel with it anywhere and record the musicians who I want to record in their own, comfortable space. I feel that brings out the soul of the musician into the song much better. I also obsess over fragrances a lot, so I burn Loban or Sambhrani powder before a recording. I love its fragrance and you can say that’s one of my rituals before a dub.
7. Tell us something about the making of ‘Faraar’ – one of your most successful creations this far and undeniably our favourite one too.
First of all, thank you so much for connecting with that song! Faraar is about liberation and freedom of oneself. It talks about how one wants to break away from shackles and be what one truly wants to be. However, It is not to be confused with escaping, but rather finding your own true self and at the same time, letting the world be how it wants to be because, in the end, you don’t really have control over anything but your own self. The mainline “Faraar re…” was ringing in my head for the longest time and I decided to cultivate that idea into a complete song. Beautifully written and performed by Alok and Yashika respectively, who did complete justice to the song and gave it life.
8. Now that we’re talking about favourites – out of all the tracks you’ve worked on, which one would be your favourite song to perform?
That is a tricky one to answer. All the songs from Azaad Sangeet Season 1 & 2 hold a very special place in my heart. Each song represents a particular state of mind I was in, at that moment. And I see songs as photographs, a record of your memory from the time it was created. It takes you back into the moment like a fragrance reminds you of someone or someplace and your memories around it. I’m planning to perform both the albums live very soon and create a revisited version of each song for live performances. Fingers crossed, and I must tell you it will happen sooner than we know.
9. What advice would you give to our readers who aspire to become musicians and hope to set foot in this competitive industry?
You are absolutely right! Competitive is the word since everyone is trying to make a mark for themselves and be successful at what they are doing. However, I truly believe if your intention is pure, and you keep a true heart, always reminding yourself why you even started in the first place, it will yield the best music out of you. Music is magical and demands you to stay immaculate and uncorrupted. Do not fall for the numbers and trends, how much ever latent safety there is in them, and truly serve it as an art form and as a way of healing. A Master is nothing but a master student. If you continue to feel like a student at all times and keep learning and making yourself better at what you do, everything else just falls in place and that is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world – to truly be what you want to be, to truly express yourself and connect with your audience on a much deeper level, in the language of love and music.
Also, before you go, check out this beautiful track – Faraar, which enunciates how amazingly talented our guest is. On that melodious note, we part readers! We hope you enjoyed reading this insightful feature as much as we enjoyed conducting it.
Aishwarya Lalitha and Jelin Anand