Singer-songwriter Sanjeeta Bhattacharya on being a globetrotting musician
It wasn't long after her homecoming from Berklee College of Music that Delhi-based vocalist Sanjeeta Bhattacharya started getting gigs in her city. Her stunningly diverse foundational training in music, which featured everything from Hindustani classical, gospel to R&B, gave her an opportunity to be a part of some of the most extraordinary line-ups. As an aspiring performer with a truly global musical acumen, Sanjeeta wanted to explore everything, and for the most part, she did. “I had a tryst with forming a Balkan folk choir and I even taught for a bit. Initially, I would be playing as many as 10 to14 gigs a month, just getting myself out there, with different sets of people and ended up playing a lot of cover sets in the realm of jazz and Latin,” says Sanjeeta, who’s all set to perform at TopCat CCU on July 19, as part of her multi-city tour.
Elaborating on her streamlining process, she says, “With the release of three of my singles, I went on a five-city tour last year and performed predominantly in indie music festivals like NH7 Weekender and Orange Festival. This decision to streamline was really important for me. I feel much more a part of the ‘indie’ scene now.” Folk to flamenco Sanjeeta, who is the daughter of the celebrated painter Sanjay Bhattacharya, started her training with the classics. As a child, she received training in Hindustani classical and even kathak. It was in Berklee that she was able to explore Latin styles, jazz, Balkan folk and flamenco, which feature quite distinctly in her music now.
The singer tells us that she got in touch with a few musician friends and live music venues, after her return from Berklee, and soon landed her first gig. She released her debut EP Yatra in 2018, which was well-received, and earned her renown as a songwriter. Besides Kolkata, Sanjeeta’s multi-city tour will take her to Hyderabad, Bengaluru and also to the two cities she’s never played at before, Shillong and Guwahati.
“I’ll be playing a bunch of unreleased songs that haven’t been played for an audience yet. Takar Nabam, who’s a celebrated singer-songwriter and guitarist himself will be joining me. We played in Kolkata last year as well, and it was a lot of fun! I loved that a lot of the audience comprising musicians, all rooting for you. I even conducted a workshop about Eastern European music during the same tour and recorded a couple of songs for Friday Night Originals. Kolkata has too many memories, new friends and amazing food, you really can’t go wrong. I’m really looking forward to reliving that all over again,” the vocalist tells us.
Current experiments Sanjeeta, who’s currently experimenting with electronic sounds, thinks that this a great time to be making music. “There are so many new avenues and listeners for indie music now; from tiny cafés in places like Old Manali to huge music festivals in the cities. A lot of this music is even making it to films thanks to which the artistes, and their compositions get a lot of attention. Intimate living room gigs have become a thing now, with numerous groups hosting such events. It’s a great time to be making music. What could make it grow even further is if artiste management companies and managers pushed and supported regional acts more. Language is not necessarily a barrier — how else did a band like Avial (Kerala-based alternative rock band) become so popular even in the North?” the vocalist remarks.
At TopCat CCU on July 19