Indie artistes' take on love and music 

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, independent musicians explore the evergreen and varying dynamics of love in its comforting constancy, and reassuring presence — why it is so worthy of being scrutinised
Siddhant Goenka, Sharath Narayan, Motherjane, Peekay, AWKS
Siddhant Goenka, Sharath Narayan, Motherjane, Peekay, AWKS

When Todd Edwards teamed up with Daft Punk on Fragments of Time, particularly the lyrics: Familiar faces I’ve never seen / Living the gold and the silver dream / Making me feel like I’m 17, enormously duplicated the temperament of love notes. February 14 is special as it is earmarked to celebrate affection, nostalgia, and youthful excitement, much like being 17 again.

But music creation in itself, is an act of love — living a dream tinted in gold and silver. Music is untamed and while consuming it seems vulnerable and brave, it speaks to the itchy feet and often simplifies the bewilderment of love, loss, grief and heartbreak. It anchors itself to our memories — a childhood tune, or a poignant reminder of a lost love, through the speakers in stores, in the hum of a coffee shop, or in the style of a street performer.

Yet, the human mind dances to lead some of us on impulsive global escapades and others down shadowed paths. Uddipan Sarmah from post-rock band, As We Keep Searching (AWKS), shares, “When it is a real emotion, the consumer feels it. There is no other explanation needed. We as a band have written love songs to nature. It gave us joy and a beautiful reason to keep coming back to music to remember how gorgeous nature is.” “While art enhances physical spaces, music adds depth to time, love serves as the emotional core that elevates these experiences. Love in art and music outshines mere decoration,” says Sarthak Saksena.

Pain and love and their role as muses in the world of music depict how these intense emotions, with their accompanying experiences, are not just common themes in music but are fundamental inspiration for performers and songwriters. But for Peekay, the duality of love is interpreted in tune, and what else, other than love burns this deeply? Where else does life begin and end? “I don’t think anyone has the time for relationships because we’re riding on waves of emotion and stress constantly, we end up often being in messy connections and that somehow ends up being the subject of a lot of our music. It’s not a standard discourse but rather a common theme. Every story is separate and the singers tell it differently, whether they’re rappers or guitarists, drummers and so on,” she shares.

Likewise, Clyde Rozario from rock band Motherjane is all about how love is hardwired into us, humans. He counts that it has been a big deal since forever, playing a major role in our minds. And you know what? It shows up in unperturbed ways like art and how we communicate. To him, love has always been this core thing, influencing our creative tones and how we connect. And music? “It is one way to communicate how one feels, whether it is a love song or an angstridden hate song. It depends on the artiste’s state of mind and situation at that current time. As long as people can feel, songs will be written on love or the lack of it,” he tells us, while guitarist John Thomas adds, “Love can be that invisible mass that fuses the dimensions of space and time, in this case, art and music, creating a path through it, leading to a succession of the same.”

We’re driven by our emotions, says Madhur Sharma. Songs during the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war protests used love as a metaphor for peace and unity. “Love has so many aspects that can be explored forever. I think that the relationship between love and music is incredibly comprehensive. If music is magic, then love is magical,” he adds. Independent artiste Yohan Marshall’s idea is that love, as it is universal, can be expressed boundlessly, and none of these expressions can be deemed definitively ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ He underscores that whether it’s through music, fashion, film, or photography, the primary responsibility of artistes is to convey their truths without restraint. He accentuates that the understanding and manifestation of love are deeply personal — what love means and how it is voiced will differ for each person.

“To love and be loved taps into the core of the most basic human needs. Love can feel all-encompassing. There’s utopian love, love for one’s family, loving what you do, feeling understood and accepted. How could a writer not explore the depths of this?” He is also introducing a new single titled Jo Tu Mere Pass Hai, which represents a shift in theme from soul-searching to love and togetherness. Dedicated to his wife, Jaisha, it defines the joy and fulfilment uncovered in their relationship. It heralds contentment and wonder that comes from sharing the space with a loved one. The contrast between the two songs — from exploring the pain of a breakup in Act Like to this in Jo Tu Mere Pass Hai — witnesses his range in exposing humanity.

Jingles have often painted love in broad, euphoric strokes, sidestepping its messier, more intricate facets. Love was an all-consuming force, with little spotlight on the individual’s voyage or personal growth within a relationship.

Bengaluru-based artiste, Sharath Narayan offers a funny yet insightful perspective on why love is a perennial subject in music. He suggests that part of its appeal as a theme may be its relative ease as a topic for songwriting . However, he also acknowledges that no theme, including love, has been exhaustively explored in music, indicating the endless possibilities for creative expression in this province. The absence of strict rules or guidelines in artistry, highlights the freedom creators have in expressing their thoughts.

He points out that the definition of love is not static; it varies greatly among cultures across the world. “It’s easier to write about love,” he says, adding, “That’s quite convenient if someone wants to write a song quickly. Having said that, discussing love is a broad spectrum. It can be happiness, sadness and also, loneliness — however people want to feel it. It’s one of the emotions that poke you and tell you that it exists.”

“Existence consists of paradoxes — life and death, day and night, happiness and sadness. Love is no exclusion. It’s a two-sided coin,” says Siddhant Goenka, who also cites Indian cinema to illustrate platonic love, brotherhood, and friendship — an often underrepresented aspect of love in popular media. The Kolkata-based artiste tells us that although hackneyed, they remind us of those we tie in with, reach out to, check in on and what we are fortunate to have in our lives — something that can be a recurring and rich theme in music across eras. An artiste’s love for their craft can transform into a spectrum in response to industry challenges. Setbacks and failures may turn initial joy and dedication into frustration, anger, or sadness. Emotional shifts often manifest in the music itself, influencing the lyrics, and compositions. The trip of a musician exemplifies how love, in its various forms, is at the root of a wide display of expressions. But even then, Siddhant says that it’s all worth it.

chokita @ @PaulChokita

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