BENGALURU: Thanks to the indie revolution, independent artistes have been able to make their presence felt on-stage and off-stage, using streaming platforms to showcase their work. Jammu-based singer-songwriter Saby Singh is one such musician who is making a mark in the field with his thoughtful lyrics and balmy vocals. His lyrics delve into subjects like mental health and identity issues, and are directed towards his perception of instances affecting the society.
Calling the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir “heartbreaking,” he talks about musicians like Ali Saifuddin and Mohammed Muneem who have written about the difficult times over the past few years. “The clampdown is painful for me, as I spent my childhood in Kashmir. We can only be optimistic,” says the musician, who is in town for a performance. “I write about mental health, longing, and existential and identity crisis from a personal perspective for people to connect with, because the essential feelings are the same. My track Kya Baat Jo Bayaan Ho is inspired by my days during engineering where realisations came about in full swing,” he adds.
Singh, who comes from a musically-inclined family, says it took him some time to decide on taking up this profession. “My grandfather was well-versed in classical music, but nobody in my family pursued it as a career. Apart from my learnings in classical music with the harmonium, it was when I discovered the likes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, and explored other genres like jazz and blues, that I moved towards pursuing it as a full-time career,” he adds.
He has come a long way since 2014, when he experimented with rough sounds during his debut in Chandigarh. In 2015, he released Tum Aur Main, a track that made him a familiar face among music fans in the country, and went on to release Nothing, Man in 2017, followed by Kaash and his latest single, Asma, last year. In June this year, Singh, along with his companion and singer-songwriter Samar Mehdi, embarked on a 22-city tour, titled Hai Khabar, to hold 25 shows in two months, covering even small cities like Jaipur and Jabalpur.
“The idea was the brainchild of Samar Mehdi and the tour was done with a Do It Yourself (DIY) approach, ranging from the sound set-up, to the venues. From playing in a cathedral in Goa to a library in Chennai, we got a different experience in each city,” he recalls, adding that indie music has also forayed into smaller cities. Singh says the tour will also form the basis of his upcoming work, featuring his experiences and stories from the cities.
Bengaluru, for one, remains close to him, and he feels musicians should take a stand over the closure of music venues in the city, and play more intimate sets to make the culture of indie music sustainable. “Bengaluru has one of the most diverse music scenes and has also produced some of the best bands in India. Now is the time for us musicians to stand our ground,” he says. Saby Singh will perform at 1000 Petals, Indiranagar, on October 24.