ONE of India’s best kept musical secrets is stunning singer and composer Suchismita.
Her wide array of achievements include being AR Rahman’s protégé, lighting up internationally acclaimed film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, singing for major Bollywood blockbusters and delivering cutting-edge singles like her recent release Damaru, which is an up-tempo EDM collaboration with renowned composer Ricky Kej. With a focus on the international market, she is looking to cross more frontiers and currently shuttles between Los Angeles and Mumbai.
Eastern Eye caught up with the classically trained artist hailing from Kolkata, to discuss her new spiritual single, close connection to music and singing hero.
What first connected you to music? I have had a deep love of music for as long as I can remember. One key moment for me was listening to an audio cassette of legendary vocalist Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. His magical voice started that life-long connection to music, which gets stronger with each project.
Which of your songs has been closest to your heart? All the songs I have been fortunate enough to sing are a part of me and that will never change. If I had to single out a few songs then Jagao Mere Des Ko, Desi Romance, Ek Lamha, Kinare and my most recent song release Damaru. These are very special songs for different reasons.
You have collaborated closely with AR Rahman. What is he like to work with? I have been lucky enough to work with some great musical talents and AR sir is one of the very best we have. He is quite easy to work with as long as one can understand his thought process and expectations.
You are a versatile singer, but what genre do you most enjoy? I have loved exploring different styles of music because each can teach you something new. Ones I particularly enjoy singing are classical based ones like thumri, dadra and ghazal. I also really love the big symphony orchestras and jazz. But beyond that, I am always open to exploring new genres.
How much has being classically trained helped you? It helped a lot and enabled me to do such an interesting variety of work. If you know the fundamentals of a subject, it’s always a bit easier to understand the intricacies and venture into new musical territories.
What led towards your latest song Damaru? I am an ardent follower of Lord Shiva and always wanted to compose a song on him, and that’s why Damaru happened. I am pleased with the response this track has received from all ages, including those who don’t understand the language.
How does this compare to your other songs? I think it is unfair to compare songs because each has its own unique journey, from being created to going out into the world and making that connection with a listener. Damaru is an extremely powerful track, and has multiple elements, which is quite different from my other tracks. I enjoyed composing and co-writing the lyrics with Jataneel Banerjee. It was great working with (producer) Ricky Kej and (rapper) Maya Miko.
Musically, what can we expect next from you? There is some really interesting collaborative work on the way with singles, albums and film work. I am looking forward to sharing a lot of new music.
Who would you love to work with? There are so many people I would love to work with, but top of the list is Hans Zimmer. He always creates magic with his music.
Who is your own musical hero? My musical hero is Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan because his recordings were the reason for me to choose to learn classical music. He was a master of his craft and there is so much to admire about him.
What music dominates your own playlist? I really enjoy listening to symphony orchestras because their compositions are musically rich and always have a live feel, which I love.
What is it that inspires you as a singer as well as a composer? I love the process of making songs, which excites me the most and rendering a song beautifully is another excitement altogether.
How much does live performance mean to you and what has been the most memorable one? I feel a deep connection with live performances and being on stage is the place where I belong. It is where I am most comfortable and happiest. It is difficult to mention one memorable concert as there are so many stage memories, but Jodhpur Riff was pretty amazing.
What does music mean to you? Music means everything to me. It is who I am. It gives me freedom. It is liberation