Mumbai-born singer-songwriter Hriday Gattani recently released his lovely new five-track EP History jukebox. The disc features Gattani’s melodic songwriting work as well as clever instruments that bring the songs to life. In this interview with Rolling Stone Indiathe artist breaks down his new EP, what he has in store and more.
What was your musical vocation?
I grew up in Mumbai and was exposed to the world of music and entertainment from an early age. I remember going to one of my first gigs when I was three years old and coming away mesmerized. I was told I had a flair for music because I was always the source of entertainment in the living room, playing for the guests coming home whether they liked it or not. The link to live entertainment is due to my father Deepak Gattani who directed and produced many events. I think that’s one of the things that made me want to become a musician.
What are the projects that have marked you?
Each project taught me something different and challenged me differently. I think I’ve tried to develop a very different set of skills as a musician over the past few years from overseeing projects and assisting musical directors in collaborations with big-name artists or producing for television, independent films and music. In music, there are no rules and there never will be. Thus, each project was approached differently and my spectrum of knowledge only widened at the end of each project. The last project I was involved in was really special. Shekhar Kapur and AR Rahman reunited at Expo Dubai 2020 and presented a state-of-the-art live musical; it was a stunner. As the musical supervisor of this project, I got to see a whole new world of technology, wisdom, creativity and work culture and it really shaped me differently.
When did you work on your first EP History jukebox start and what do you remember writing it?
I remember this EP came together super organically, and it was so sporadic because there was no end goal. I had just decided that I wanted to pursue music, so I packed my bags and moved to Chennai to learn more at KM College of Music and Technology. It was then that I was full of ideas and surrounded by music and musicians. It was a truly inspiring phase of my life. I spent sleepless nights writing and playing guitar. This EP was born in the middle of it all and became part of my phone’s voice notes folder. I remember trying to understand the concept and purpose of songwriting. I still haven’t cracked it. But what I learned for sure is that it’s all about telling a story from your point of view and how it should always connect with everyone no matter how much it’s presented from different and unique way.
What can you tell me about the songs on the disc?
The idea of the EP lyrically is quite broad. It is actually a collection of stories and feelings that have been vividly portrayed from my eyes. Themes like the pursuit of passion within oneself to compromise in love and also a theme that concerns most people in today’s world about simply running away from all their problems and responsibilities, that’s a pretty broad dissection of the society.
Sonically, the EP has evolved over time. I think the sound space is the juxtaposition of pop and cinema because of the hooks that meet the intensity of what I was talking about.
How was the recording and production process?
This is a project that has been going on for a while. A group of musicians and I got together seven years ago and recorded demos of these songs at Cotton Press studios in Mumbai (now defunct) to help me find a producer to shape the album. Somehow it stayed in my archives for a few years, until I reopened one of the studio sessions and started messing with the production. By this time, I had gained a ton of experience and was actively producing. So the momentum picked up and I asked a few people to come on board a few songs like Kush Upadhyay on the electric guitars and JK on the keys of the song “Parasite” and another friend, Karthik Ramaswamy who boarded “Broken Wings”. But the lockdown helped me step up this EP and lock down all the productions as I had time to dive deep and reinvent all the songs with all the gear I had. It ended up being produced entirely in my bedroom and then moved to my production setup after lockdown for finishing touches.
What’s next for you?
I’ve wanted to break the ice with this EP for a while now and I’m so happy with how it was received. Now there is no turning back. Apart from my commercial projects, tons and tons of independent music is ready to be released and I am working on releasing it in Hindi and English. I will also be touring with this EP.
Stream ‘Jukebox Of History’ on Spotify below and other platforms.