Superb sonic start

In Conversation

Superb sonic start

He’s been in the Indian music scene for over 15 years. Shantanu Mukherjee, aka Shaan, is the son of the late composer Manas Mukherjee, and has proven his musical expertise in films and albums.

What’s new in his life is the band Superbia, which in Latin stands for pride, says Shaan. “We — music producer Roshan, composer Gourav Dasgupta and I — have formed the band to perform live and also work as a musical entity that scores albums and film soundtracks.”

About the genesis of the band, he explains, “I had gone to sing for Gourav and we ended up creating songs. Roshan, who was also there, suggested that we should come together as between the three of us, we could compose anything from semi-classical to rock. Roshan has a Carnatic background (his father was a Carnatic music scholar) and is a sound designer, and Gourav is one of the best-known guitar players with a Western jazz background.”

How does he look at his return to Indipop, from where he had begun his career with the hit album ‘Tanha Dil’? “The energy of a band cannot be compared to a scene in which you sing as an individual,” he replies. “Being a part of a band is what I had always missed.”

In their debut album on Saregama, ‘Satrangi’ (that which has seven colours), they have composed original songs based on old hooks, like O Mere Dil Ke Chain and Humein Tumse Pyaar Kitna. The team is set to concoct two songs in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Yaara and the entire soundtrack of Baa Baa Black Sheep, a dark comedy. “There are other film projects on the anvil, a television serial called Tere Shahar Mein, an album, and even advertisements. On stage, we perform electro-rock and revisit old songs as live covers,” he shares. About ‘Satrangi’, he comments poetically, “Each of the seven colours that adorns this album is a fairy tale in its own right, taking one through a journey of human emotions. The genre of this album is broadly darkwave, with shades of electro-goth and dubstep. It features former Miss India Asia Pacific and singer-songwriter Gwen.”

Collaboration

While Shaan finds composing songs hard work, it’s also a creative process, he notes. But how many of his compositions will he sing? Or, to put it differently, will he sing all the songs that require a male voice?

Shaan laughingly says that he will look for new voices. “That’s the trend now, to be different.” He admits that his current endeavour has stemmed from the same craze. “There’s no point waiting for ‘the phone call for a song when we, the established playback singers, are getting few assignments. I am using this opportunity to explore music differently and creatively.” He assures that when he composes songs, his definite loyalties and priorities will be to give them to his colleagues to sing, because “they are my friends! But there’ll also be a mix and match with new voices.”

For Shaan, “this is a nice, relaxed phase when I create every day.” A lot of his film work is with new and nameless music directors, which to him translates as more freedom at the end of the day, “because they are receptive to my inputs about lyrics, music and vocal nuances.”

Suitable suggestions

Shaan has been known by music directors as a singer who gives creative inputs to their songs. To this he says, “I think a singer must offer his honest inputs in a positive way. For one, I have to keep myself fresh and non-repetitious. And also, once a song is done, it’s done, so if I can suggest improvements, why shouldn’t I do so before the song takes shape for posterity?”

“We are at acrossroads,” declares the singer about the music scene today. “The next road we take will depend on the next big hit. The item songs have reached their saturation point and hopefully, the turn is towards melodies. In Yaara, we have composed a situational rock number, but there is also a Sufi romantic song.” He and his band are open to working with reputed lyricists, but right now, “I am working with promising new names like Manthan, Shellee, Sunil and Prashant Ingole, all of whom are trying to make their mark.”

Shaan has been singing on and off in recent times, and his duet with Shreya Ghoshal, Chaar Kadam, from the film PK, has been applauded as a song that will outlive conventional hits. But now, his focus is on bringing back the era of non-film albums.

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