BENGALURU: Ask Suryakant Sawhney aka ‘Lifafa’ on how he ended up pursuing music even after starting off as a filmmaking student in San Francisco and he says, “I realised that it takes a lot of money to become a filmmaker and I didn’t have any, so I decided to quit and produce music since I was already writing songs. Music is all I have now.” Sawhney, who is also the frontman of New Delhi-based gypsy jazz outfit, Peter Cat Recording Co, was in Bengaluru for a solo set and emphasised that when it comes to Lifafa, its music primarily revolves around ideas which he didn’t pursue with the band.
“The idea is that of a big vacuum of music in India, which addresses bringing together various elements and sounds. Just like the cultural diversity in India, music is also diverse. I felt that combining this knowledge with a memory of music, including the styles I learnt with the band, would create something different,” he says. In 2019, Sawhney released Jaago, an eight-track full-length electronic album, which was applauded by critics and listeners. The album is a reflection of Sawhney’s music experience and portrays classic Bollywood elements with a modern tone. “I’m not recreating Bollywood tunes but rather a feeling which is just melody of our time. People in India like their music to be very loud or super slow, there’s no subtlety and it is a misunderstood medium,” he says.
While many assume that Jaago was his first album, Sawhney clears the air by saying that the self-titled instrumental album, Lifafa, which he released in 2013 was his first and adds, “Only when Peter Cat stabilised is when I was able to focus on my solo venture.”Addressing concerns of favouritism in the independent music scene, Sawhney says the problem isn’t limited just to a single industry. “Of course, it’s riddled with favouritism, there are very few people who can afford to make music in India. It’s riddled with a class advantage, which obviously lends itself through favouritism. Unless there’s a change in society, these things won’t change.
I hope it does but I’m pretty cynical about it,” says 32-year-old Sawhney, who adds that his upcoming projects will see him go back in the world of films with videography and storytelling.On February 7, Sawhney performed at Shaheen Bagh alongside various artistes like Shubha Mudgal, Rahul Ram, Varun Grover and Akur, who had all come together to take a stand against communalism. While Sawhney expressed his concern on the situation being tense, he also emphasised that the real fight is to implement effective societal change over the next couple of decades. “The coming generation is definitely going to face a tough time because the generation before mine didn’t understand the internet and its shortcomings. The real problem is how to educate people on what the internet is. NRC and CAA are fights which are actually further away; the real fight is the information war.”