BENGALURU: Jessica Chapnik Kahn, the Argentine Australian musician, actress and director who makes music under the moniker Appleonia, was in town to perform in the NH7 Weekender festival. City Express spoke to her about her latest album OH, her connection with India and more. Excerpts:
What is your take on Indian music? Any influences?
I got quite immersed in Indian music a couple of years ago because I scored music for a feature documentary in India called Despite the Gods. It’s a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the making of Hisss, a film that was directed by Jennifer Lynch (David Lynch’s daughter), starring Mallika Sherawat. For the score, I did a cover of Ghar Aya Mera Pardesi, which I really loved doing, and I translated a few Sanskrit prayers into English and put them to music. We released the whole thing as a soundtrack called Despite the Gods. I love the old Bollywood scores from the ‘30s. It’s wonderful to be here for these NH7 shows. I have no India tours planned, but I would really love to do that. I have been travelling around India for quite a few years, so it’s a place that is close to my heart.
How has playing the keyboard and singing with bands like Sarah Blasko, Old Man River, Lior and the Kahn Brothers influenced you?
I don’t think it has consciously influenced my music, but it has certainly helped me grow as an artiste. All these guys are artistes I respect a great deal, so it’s wonderful to have that basis when you collaborate. I find collaboration really rewarding.
2014 saw the release of your album OH. How has the response been? And this album was released in the way of music sharing and downloads? Why so?
OH had a lot of collaborators on board and I made it in a super indie way, so it was a fairly long birth. I wrote the album without a specific theme in mind. It was really about discovery. The influences were very varied, and I’m sure reflect some of the collaborators who worked on it, artistes like Ian Ball (Gomez), Jimmy Tamborello (The Postal Service), El May, Nadav Kahn (Gelbison) and Ben Lee. I gave myself little restrictions. I just let myself play and explore. I really wanted to put it out in a special way.
So I teamed up with a food rescue charity in Australia that helps feed vulnerable Australians, and donated the album to them. Every free download of the album triggers an immediate donation by an Australian company to OzHarvest. Every album download feeds three people. It was really fun to turn my music into food. So far, we have fed 30,000 people. You can still download the album for free on www.appleoniamusic.com/ozharvest
You have also acted in film, TV and theatre. Have you used this experience in music? If so, then how?
I love a sense of drama in music, so that is always with me when I write songs. I also direct and create all my music videos, so I bring my acting background to creating video art. I generally make one shot videos and that means I have only two or three takes to get it. It’s very immediate. It’s a real thrill making music videos this way because it feels a lot like theatre. I think a song is just as much visual as it is aural.