Surya Ganjoo is a student of Mechanical Engineering at Sinhgad College of Engineering. One day earlier this year, when he was blissfully napping at home, he was woken up with a WhatsApp message from a friend who sent him a pamphlet of a competition being held in their college at that time. “It was 4.30 pm. I jumped up, got ready and dashed. I reached there within half an hour and thought of giving it a try,” says the 21-year-old singer-songwriter, who went on to win the Pune round of the competition. This was a part of the Red Bull Spotlight, a nation-wide programme to identify and support top talent across various fields.
What made him win the city-round was a break up song. “I wrote it in 2015 when my heart was broken. I put my deepest feelings into the song. When I performed it at the contest, I improvised a little, added a few extra melodies and it ended up sounding really good,” he says.
“Art that grows in a war zone is so pure and true,” says the boy from J&K who found his peace in music. “I was 12 when I picked up the guitar, it was the best way I could express myself — through music. I grew up listening to rock n roll. I listened to Eric Clapton, Guns n Roses, and the likes. But I don’t really take inspiration from them when it comes to making my music,” says Ganjoo, explaining, “When I am with my guitar, I feel a supernatural union with the universe — that inspires me to make my music.”
So now Ganjoo is the winner from Pune, who will have to compete with other finalists — heavy metal band Illucia from Bengaluru, Hindi progressive/alt rock band Last Minute from Mumbai, hard/alt rock band Drone from Kolkata, rock band Sword from Hyderabad, deathcore band Jammers Graveyard from Guwahati, blues/rock band TNT from Goa, progressive/alt rock band Khalnayak from Delhi, and hip-hop/soul band Amogh & The Homies from Chennai.
Supporters and fans need to log on to the Redbull website to vote for their nominee and once the tally comes in after the voting period is over (which is at the end of this month), the judges — music journalists Amit Gurbaxani and Anurag Tagat, head of programming for OML/NH7 Weekender Debayan Deb, artist manager at Mixtape Anu Anna George and founder-partner of subculture think-tank 4/4 Entertainment and the non- profit Control ALT Delete Nikhil Udupa — will select one winner from among those with the highest number of votes. The winning band will get to record a full-length album at a professional studio, along with a number of other benefits, including a press kit — complete with a photo shoot and album art for their newly recorded album.
While all the other finalists are bands, Ganjoo is the only individual singer-songwriter in the competition. But that doesn’t seem to intimidate him, in fact, he’s using it to his advantage. “I was a part of a band before they split up. Since then I’ve been making my career as a solo artist. I’ve played at a few venues in Pune and have even performed at gigs in cities like Solapur. I think my music is honest. I say what I want to say without the fear of being judged, that’s the reason people should vote for me,” he urges music lovers.
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To vote, log on to www.redbull.in/spotlight