Interview: New York-based Bengali music producer Jonai Singh shares her plans for 2024

Jonia has a slew of novel global collaborations laid out for Bengali indie music 
Jonai Singh
Jonai Singh
The beautiful and very enterprising Jonai Singh who has been representing Bengali performing artistes in the US for over a decade on her platform, JS Events, is a relentless promoter of new and emerging singing sensations from Bengal. She has been doing that for the last three years, through her new initiative JSE Music.  

“When the pandemic had stalled the world, it was a great time to reflect too, and I realised that our indigenous Bengali music in the non-film area had a lot of room for growth and improvement. And as we started working in that area, slowly my goal became to globalise Bengali music and bring about global collaboration. Based in New York, I had exposure to different music and different cultures and the right social outreach for orchestrating meaningful collaborations. We started doing that with the Bengali composers and singers and created projects with a global touch and this new premise of work and thought process was greatly appreciated and welcomed by the audience,” recalls Jonai.

<em>Jonai Singh</em>
Jonai Singh

Meeting with success in her musical endeavours so far, an enthused Joani is now all set to embark upon a few more exciting sonorous adventures in 2024. We got a hint of the same when she visited Kolkata this December. Excerpts from the chat.

Tell us about your music plans for 2024?

We did many different things in 2023 and we plan to continue that in the year going ahead. Not everybody is travelling the world but through music you can travel far.

There is a flood of content out there. So it’s not enough just to have good content. One must also have new ideas.  

There is an interesting project set to release in early 2024. It is a composition by renowned composer Joy Sarkar. Joy visited Spain some time back along with his wife Lopamudra and he was mightily inspired by Flamenco music. This particular collaborative single that we are working on is inspired by flamenco music. We have connected Joy with musicians from New York and Latin America to incorporate the sounds of flamenco guitar, castanets, foot tapping, haleo and cajon into the song. Though 25 years in the music industry, Joy expressed that this has been a very unique experience for him and he is elated to be able to add such authenticity to his dream project. The audio production is almost ready and the song will be sung by Antara Nandy.

<em>Jonai Singh</em>
Jonai Singh

What else are you planning?

As far as what’s in the pipeline for 2024, we plan to blend traditional Bengali folk music with deep house music creating a fusion appealing to a wider audience.

Deep house music is very popular now. We have seen a lot of work in Punjabi, but there’s rarely anything in Bengali. So, we are thinking of at least one collaborative project in Bengali in the deep house genre.

Also, there are a few genres in which no work is happening, such as kirtan. I remember when Akash Chakraborty came to me with the lyrics of an original kirtan Jagat Shajey Brindabone, I was so impressed I wanted to go ahead with the same. Imon Chakraborty sang the song and the rest is history. I want to explore more of kirtans and also want to fuse Bengali and Sufi music, which is yet another untested territory. Also, fusion with Nazrul Geeti is something that is much less explored. Apart from this, we are creating a music room where a few iconic but almost-forgotten Bengali songs will be sung by young emerging artistes.


What are the challenges you face while collaborating with Bengal’s talents sitting in New York?

I won’t call it challenges, I think of them as a process and try to learn how to manoeuvre and beat the process. That’s the spirit with which I take each work. I never take it as a challenge but something exciting. Communication has never been an issue in this age of digital explosion but the only thing is that, I think, people In Bengal are a bit laidback when it comes to work and the projects get delayed because of that. This lack of professionalism creates a time lag and it would be great to see that slowly changing.

How tough or easy are things for indie musicians in the current scenario?

For today’s generation of emerging artistes, the challenge is huge because the way we listen to music has changed from being just an auditory experience to a primarily visual one. Videos have become so important now. I feel accomplished singers such as Lopamudra, Raghav, Srikanto, Shubhamita, and Rupankar to some extent, were the lucky generation who created independent music when people used to listen. Now, there is such a shift in the behaviour of the listeners which is a huge challenge for emerging artistes.

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