Now That's What I Call A Musician!
Another boring cocktail party. Only this time, it was a lot worse because the crowd was awful – a bunch of drunken morons, to put it politely. Normally, under such circumstances, I would move away fro...
Another boring cocktail party. Only this time, it was a lot worse because the crowd was awful – a bunch of drunken morons, to put it politely. Normally, under such circumstances, I would move away from the guests and sit quietly in a corner, nursing a Bloody Mary and listening to the music. But in this case, the music too was terrible, occasionally bordering on unbearable. So when my host (who, unfortunately, was doubling up as a DJ for the evening) played Tera Suroor for the nth time, I decided enough was enough.
I left the room and sought refuge in his teenaged daughter’s room. We’ve always got along very well and we share similar tastes in books and music, so I thought it was the best place to hide. And boy, was I right!
Sonya, the daughter, had acquired a new album by a couple of unknown artistes called Sanjo and Chandrani. The album was titled Barson Huey. Sonya told me that she was “haplessly helplessly hopelessly” addicted to it. And little did I know that before the night was out, I would be too.
When I walked into Sonya’s room and said hello, this upbeat song called Zindagi was playing on her music system. After greeting me warmly, she gestured towards the system and asked, “How do you like this song?” I listened for a few moments. Lovely voices, exquisite harmonies and brilliant musical accompaniment, in particular, the mellow sound of the guitar. I was hooked. You don’t hear much of these earthy sounds nowadays. “Wow!” I exclaimed, “is that Silk Route?”
Sonya shook her head, handing me the cover of the cassette. “Check it out,” she said, “the design is cool… like the music.” I agreed enthusiastically. The cover was truly minimalist in its visual expression. A soothing aura of blue light. And just that! No posturing, no scantily-clad gals, no garish settings.
“Let me hear it from the beginning,” I requested. Sonya agreed readily. She rewound the cassette to the beginning of Side A, I kicked my shoes off and hopped up on her bed, she did the same, and the listening session began.
What followed was hours of pure magic. We turned the volume up and lost ourselves in the beautiful world of Sanjo and Chandrani’s music. The album contained ten songs, each one a gem in its own right. We listened to them over and over again. We lost all track of time. Outside Sonya’s door, the party continued, the wretched music played on and the morons danced the night away, but nothing bothered us. We were under the spell of Barson Huey.
I left the party at 2 a.m. wondering how a pair of total strangers had made my evening so very special – and touched my life with their music. The songs kept going around in my head, and the first thing I did the next day was to go out and buy a copy of the album. I came back from work at seven in the evening and listened to the music till way past midnight.
By the end of Day Two, I knew the songs by heart. I could sing along joyously with a sense of total abandon. That’s the effect the music had on me. The themes of the songs are rich and varied – love, infatuation, nostalgia, positivism, life, joy, sorrow, friendship, etc. The lyrics of the songs are sensitive and evocative. Written largely by Chandrani (some of the songs are credited to another lyricist named Gaurav), the songs are epitomes of how words can be used to sooth or stir emotions.
The inlay card of the cassette mentioned the address of the artistes’ website. I sent the usual-typical-standard-hyped-cooing fan mail type of letter, expecting no reply, of course. I was in for a delightful surprise. A couple of days later, I had a mail from Sanjo and Chandrani in my inbox! I decided to push my luck a little more. I guess being a journalist gives you that ‘go-for-it’ kind of attitude. So I mailed back a short questionnaire, a kind of online interview, and said I would be thrilled if they would answer it. And believe it or not, Sanjo actually got back to me! (I will be publishing the interview here shortly, so stay tuned)
I have spent a lot of time researching Sanjo and Chandrani on the Internet. You see, there’s absolutely nothing about these two artistes in daily newspapers and magazines. It’s like they never existed at all. I found that distinctly odd. Musicians who are this good, are invariably talked about. That’s when I decided to snoop around the Web to see if I could find out more. And I did.
Sanjo and Chandrani are based in New Delhi – not New Jersey, as some websites will erroneously inform you. They have been working with each other on music projects for the past five years. Both the artistes come from an advertising industry background and are creative professionals. They are night owls, preferring to work on their music into the wee hours of the morning. Apparently, their debut album (Barson Huey) was created entirely on the graveyard shift. Chandrani is every bit a tomboy while Sanjo is boyishly cute. And both of them are hugely talented.
Chandrani is a trained singer in Indian Classical music with a natural flair for writing. She teamed up with Sanjo to provide the female vocals and backing vocals on the album – and instead ended up being the lead lyricist, singer and project manager all rolled into one! To get an insight into just how talented Chandrani is, one must listen to a song on the debut album called Palkon Pe Tha. Written and sung by Chandrani, this song is a masterpiece – a haunting tune, marvellous guitars and heartrending vocals. On the night of that dreadful party, Sonya and I listened to this song more than a dozen times.
Sanjo. How does one begin to describe someone like Sanjo? I have never met him, but through his music and his songs, it’s like I’ve known him for years. I have pored over his photographs on the website – he’s downright cute, overwhelmingly endearing and has this piercing magnetism in his eyes. And music runs in every vein in his body. He is some kind of music powerhouse. He writes. He composes. He sings. He plays guitars – all kinds of guitars – along with keyboards, bass, mandolins, drums, flutes, harmonicas, bongos and whatnot. Now that’s what I call a musician!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sunita Sachdev is a freelance journalist based in New Delhi, India. Her passion is music. One of her main areas of interest is to meet new artistes, interact with them, interview them and write about them.