Challenges are always a part of the game: Jonita Gandhi

Jonita Gandhi’s inaugural EP, Love Like That, promises an exploration of the entirely novel, the unexpected and yet, bewitching
Jonita Gandhi
Jonita Gandhi

The very dear and talented Jonita Gandhi and Ali Sethi, collaborators in the setting of an LA writing camp, gear up to deliver the former’s debut EP Love Like That. Rising organically, alongside Juan Ariza, the piece features Jonita’s unfiltered self-expression within music.

The EP is a manifesto of the raw, authentic duality ingrained in her, as she tells us. The partnership with Ali is an intertwining of individual selves, also nurturing a lifelong and incredible friendship.

We catch up with Jonita, who spills the beans about strategically navigating the digital space while also maintaining a balanced perspective on the role of social media in music visibility. It is vital, but social media is a tool for genuine connection rather than an all-consuming entity.

Her approach reflects a nuanced understanding of the digital realm as a means of engagement. From her roots in Chennai Express to her present, Jonita embodies a heartbeat of impetus. Film music draws from collaborative spirits, while non-film endeavours lean on inspiring individuals. She elaborates on the human connections that shape her musical journey.

Jonita serves to illuminate the emotional and relational dimensions inherent in her choices. Beyond the glamourous exterior, the life of a musician unfolds as a storehouse of trials. The pursuit of passion brings its share of dilemmas, she admits, adding that the spotlight also carries with it the pressures of public visibility and the weight of relying on talent for livelihood.

It reveals the less dazzling and more arduous aspects of her professionalism. Regarding Jonita’s piece, Ali commends her as a trailblazer, engaging in something daring, thrilling, and innovative. He focuses on their efforts to construct bridges in contemporary music and pop culture.

Directed by Priya Minhas and shot in the heart of London, the official music video portrays a modern-day fairytale with aspirational elements. Blending Indian and Western influences, the video showcases Punjabi wedding culture at its finest, featuring fashion-forward traditional attire and dance. In contesting industry norms, Jonita questions the perceived necessity of a label deal.

Independent artistes thrive by owning their music, she contends. Dismissing the myth of a single hit securing perpetual success, she asserts that sustained relevance is the linchpin of an enduring career. While deconstructing prevalent misconceptions, she accentuates the resilience and autonomy of independent artistes. The excitement is palpable, stemming from the prospect of an unfathomable drop.

How did you land Love Like That? How does it feel? More importantly, how does your debut solo reflect your zest for trying different and fresher things?

Love Like That is an organic brainchild created during a writing camp in LA a few months ago. I was there specifically to create music with a dear friend and colleague of mine, Juan Ariza. I was elated that Ali Sethi’s travel dates aligned with mine so we could get into the studio together during this camp. We had been planning to work together for some time and I wanted to have him as a part of my first EP. Over my career, I’ve been commended for my versatility, but I’ve also been led to believe that it is confusing for some people to understand who I am as an artiste. While working on this project, I’ve learned that I want to create sounds that fuse seamlessly and expose the duality I’ve been fighting for years in a way that feels authentic. I feel this solo project does that and I’m blessed to have found a team of creatives with the same vision and desire to experiment!

From Chennai Express to Love Like That — what is the most unusual source of inspiration you’ve ever had for a song?

For a lot of the film music, I’ve been part of, I’ve been inspired by the people I work with. I would decide to take a project up, not because of the source of inspiration for the song but because I find the people involved inspiring. With my non-film music, I don’t think I’ve had any unusual sources of inspiration yet.

What’s one thing about the life of a musician that people might be surprised to learn?

Maybe it’s not all fun and games. To do something you love for a living is a blessing, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Being a musician as a hobby, versus being a musician as a career: These are two very different things. Sometimes I think people underestimate the amount of stress that can come with the pressures of being a public figure and having to rely on your talent to earn a living.

What are some misconceptions about the music industry, particularly, the independent one, you’d like to dispel?

One common misconception is that you need a label deal to make money and make it big as an artiste. More and more artistes are independent and own their music. One can make more money that way. I think another common misconception is that you just need one hit to take off and be set for life. But that one hit won’t last you forever — staying relevant is important for artistes and that can be quite challenging — but it’s part of the game.

Song Love Like That from the eponymous EP, slated to be out on February 2, is streaming on all platforms.

— @PaulChokita

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