BENGALURU: After his deep and ambient leaning original soundtrack for psychological film A Mother’s Soliloquy (2019), Muscat-bred and Los Angeles-based guitarist-producer-composer Prateek Rajagopal is back with his original score for upcoming animation film Just A Father.A part of musician Arun Natarajan’s Bengaluru-based Subcontinental Records, Rajagopal’s score revolves around the plot of a son and his siblings who hold a complicated relationship with their father.
“When the father dies, none of the siblings was willing to cremate him, except for one, the protagonist, who goes through an array of emotions but learns a great deal of acceptance through the process. Because of that, it was important for me to portray the music in a similar and complex way, but to also have a common thread throughout,” says Rajagopal, adding that he came up with two primary themes. “The first is based around the grief and complex emotions depicted in the form of a descending and emotional piano melody, to portray the ‘descent’ and ‘contraction’ of the protagonist’s thoughts. The second is based around acceptance, which I portrayed through a guitar chord and melody that meanders, but eventually comes back to a feeling of optimism,” he says.
Best known for his works with death-metal outfit GUTSLIT and his genre-bending solo project HOIA – including a collaboration with Porcupine Tree member Colin Edwin – Rajagopal asserts that using the guitar was primary to the storyline. He adds,“The piano was a surprise add-on. I wrote all the themes on the piano first, and when I ran it through the guitar, I thought it would be interesting if one theme was guitar-based and one was piano-based.”
While the rest as he cites was scored purely by instinct and his love for instrumental colours – orchestral strings and synths, the track also highlights a significantly different sound oozing dense elements and portraying heavy-hearted emotions. “The director, Kenae Lowry, wanted a funk meets sound design score, which I did and delivered. However, in May, we decided that it didn’t feel right, and I told her that I wanted to go back to the drawing board and re-do the score from scratch. She agreed, and gave me full freedom to take it in a direction that I thought would work,” he exclaims.
Ask him about his shift from the heavy genre to a calmer tone and he cites his ability to pull out various musical hats. He adds, “I am genuinely in love and inspired by so many forms of music – death metal, Avant-garde, Indian/Western classical to electronica – that I am able to channelise various sides of my many musical personalities when I wish to.”
Currently working on a game project and two other short films, Rajagopal’s calendar is seemingly packed with another project lined up starting September. “I am playing lots of guitars and doing synth work for clients/friends who are doing their own scoring. I have wrapped up a song for an upcoming Indian-American feature,” he says, citing the success of A Mother’s Soliloquy which was a semi-finalist entry at the Oscars’ Student Awards division and a finalist for Best Original Score at Athens Film Festival and IndieX Awards.