Songs of reflection

Anjali Jhangiani
Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Singer-songwriter Kalyaani releases her debut album Noises in my Head with a compilation of original songs that you can sing and think along

Singer-songwriter Kalyaani releases her debut album Noises in my Head with a compilation of original songs that you can sing and think along

Kalyaani Sakkarwal, a singer-songwriter from Himachal Pradesh, never really thought of making a career in music. But here she is raising her voice, in song, for the things she believes in as she settles down in Mumbai to release her debut album. “I quit a well-cushioned life in Delhi where I was making music with my band, to move to Mumbai because I had to choose to grow as an individual and as an artist. I read this somewhere and it rings very true: ‘You don’t choose a passion, it chooses you!”’ says the artist who didn’t opt for a moniker but uses Kalyaani as her stage name.

Music that talks
During her growing-up years, she listened to all types of music/ artists like Modern Talking, ACDC, Def Leppard, Sputnik from her sister’s collection of cassettes, as well as ghazals and folk songs. Kalyaani believes that listening to music is a wholesome experience, and she’s always sharing what she’s heard and asking people what they listen to. “It’s amazing how much you can absorb by just listening to music of various moods,” says she.
Through her songs, she questions society and the state of affairs. “Music is not just about feeling good, it’s also a tool for thought provocation, to question, to fix, to engage, to being together. I do have a sense of social disarray and distress, and since I have a creative outlet, why not use it? What works for others, might not work for you, and for that you need to have a very clear sense of self. In my head, I am very clear about what I want,” says the artist who has collaborated with Daira and Swadesi on a song about the current affairs of the country that was released on Independence Day, and another one with Sharanya Natrajan for Women’s Day.

About the album
Her debut album is titled Noises in my Head. “I have collaborated with some amazing artists like Subid Khan, Vikalp Sharma, Nevin Dmello, Hitesh Dhutia, on guitars; Sonu Sangameshwaran, Gaute and Vijval Barboza. The album is produced, mixed and mastered by veteran Lima Yanger. The first song on the album, The Awakening is inspired by a tree that was in front of my previous workplace in Gurgaon. One day, just like that, it was being chopped to widen the road. The song is a cry for helping the tree,” says Kalyaani, as she continues, “The Bobby Song was written for my dog who was a stray, but due to medical issues I had to make the choice to put him down. Something like this weighs heavy on you.”

The song Ordinary People is about the time she was deciding whether to take the leap of faith and make a career in music or stick to whatever work she was doing then. “The process has been a roller coaster ride. It can be tiring for a single person to bring everything together, and I saw my share of struggles and setbacks for releasing my debut album. I wasn’t in a hurry as it has its own process and I wanted to let it come together by itself. I wanted to create something that my friends in the music industry or otherwise, people who support me, my family and first and foremost myself to be happy with,” she says, adding, “Making music is easy, documenting it is a different ballgame altogether. You have to believe in your content first for anyone else to believe in it.”

Empowering women The artist is associated with an initiative by Treeonz, a social sector youth organisation comprising like-minded individuals with the vision to use art to revolutionise society, titled Strisvara. Supported by US Consulate and Government of Karnataka, Strisvara started off as a one-of-a-kind all-women music residency to empower tribal girls to work alongside urban and international musicians.

“My role in Strisvara was to be a musician, a friend, a teacher, a collaborator and a student by working with Soliga tribal girls who didn’t know our language and we clearly didn’t know theirs. We were five international women artists, five urban artists (including me) and five Soliga girls,” she says, adding, “When you see a 15-year-old girl from a tribe grow from being scared of you to dancing on the stage fearlessly with pride and grace in her eyes like an artist in front of a packed venue, you know you are doing the right thing,” she says.

A documentary was recorded which will be out this year.

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