When it comes to India’s music circuit, Delhi-based Suryakant Sawhney garners definite respect with his work alongside Peter Cat Recording Co. (PCRC) and a solo project named Lifafa. PCRC’s characteristically retro Hindi music-inspired electronica-meets-Sam Cooke vibe is complemented with their eclectic album covers.
The band recently announced their new album, Bismillah, that they define as a culmination of their creative journey so far. Meanwhile, Suryakant also released Lifafa’s new LP, Jaago. We chat with him about his upcoming albums.
You’ve just announced Bismillah with PCRC. What can you tell us about the album?
For us, it’s the culmination of a sound; the idea of how we made music itself. So much of it is rooted in the past and we’ve explored those in a newer, refined way but, I think we all realised that we’ve come to a point where we were ready to truly explore a new, unencountered musical and artistic space.
This album rounds up what we had left from our past and a transition leading us into a completely blank canvas. It’s a celebration of the voyage.
Are you addressing any particular issue through the music?
I think while the album generally has a mood of celebration, the writing is extremely personal and very introspective. I like to explore issues of life-long guilts of holding people back or ignoring the mass injustices we see daily. PCRC’s music has generally been very philosophical, aimed at the hearts of individuals.
How much of a departure is it from the band’s earlier sound?
There is a significant jump in the production quality, which came from a combination of finally raising our own production skills and also having the fortune of recording some of it in Paris at a lovely studio called Spectral, courtesy our label Panache.
Tell us about Jaago, your latest album with Lifafa. What are the influences behind the release?
You can call it music from an India that we wish existed. There are far too many influences, but a few really key things that struck home for me were bhajans, Vrindavan, my parents, clips from old Bollywood films, ala Muqaddar Ka Sikander, and of course, having the fortune of being exposed to so many different cultures from around the world.
The album is said to have “bizarro-electronic soundscapes”, tell us a little about the thought-process behind this.
It’s a long process, borne of thought, planning and chance. Some of the music comes to me while walking the streets; some a happy accident, some simply a case of making music for something else and
ending up in a place I actually liked. There is no fixed process. I do treat it like an art form responding to mainly those things I feel were telegraphed to me from my soul.