By Noor Anand Chawla
In a world where connections are virtual, egos more fragile than glass, and self-esteem issues higher than mountains, how is a young person to survive? By singing about it of course. Hyderabad-based artist Peekay aka Pranati Khanna, believes in wearing her heart on her creative sleeve, and uses her music to speak about what she sees around her. Focussed specifically on insecurities in relationships, “You Don’t Have To”, is her fourth single released in the span of two years.
“The story is fairly loaded – it’s one story based on a million I’ve heard from friends and fans – all based on insecurities in relationships. I did my take on it which is inspired by a very ‘toy-like’ world which this couple has created for themselves. It’s a box filled with fake things and tired movements, where they are playing out a bored and exhausted performance of constantly affirming one another that they’re in it for the long haul,” explains Peekay.
There is no denying that in every relationship – romantic or otherwise – mistakes will be made and feelings will be hurt. Sometimes people choose to stay despite being hurt, in turn creating a vicious cycle of ‘I am sorry’ and ‘You don’t and have to apologise or go out of your way for me. I chose to stay’. In Peekay’s words, these awkward situations provide fodder for her creativity because she is, “the queen of being in them”.
Through this song particularly, she hopes to spread the message among a young and impressionable generation to stop worrying about everything. It is not necessary to stick on when you are uncomfortable in a relationship, keep apologising for your mistakes, obsess over your body, skin, or any part of your appearance! Peekay believes this unhealthy behaviour will only lead to strained relationships and eventually burn you out.
In 2021, collaborations between like-minded artists have become par for the course. For the video of this song, Peekay teamed up with Couch Potato Productions for shooting and editing, Daniel Sharma, a renowned 3D artist and her teammate from their design firm for visuals, and Hari Charan for direction. To add to the overall impact, the clothes were sourced from ‘Cancelled Plans’ – a Hyderabad-based fashion line that repurposes old clothing into new and fresh offerings.
“All Eddy and I did was show up and rehearse our puppet-like movements for the shoot! I wanted this to be a big, fat Hyderabadi collaboration and it turned out perfectly,” she says with glee. Jonathan Edward or Eddy as he is better known in music circles, has been closely associated with Peekay right from her ‘angsty’ years singing for their band ‘The Ragamuffins’, which was later changed to Spell Check. She refers to their partnership as being quite like Billie Eilish and Finneas – “it’s effortless and the music is so perfectly translated from my head to people’s ears!”
Though ‘You Don’t Have To’ was first written in 2020, it was completely re-written, produced, mastered and shot in a span of two months this year. Keshav Dhar came on board for the mix and mastering, after having done Peekay’s first ever album ‘Tell Me’, with her band. She says, “This time, I’m all grown up, a thorough and ever-growing artist but this song was my way of announcing a new, bold version of myself, and I’m so happy that this important song in my musical journey was also done by Keshav!”
Since its release last month, the song and video have been received well. “The reviews we’ve been getting are incredible and I was so thrilled to see it on VH1 as well!” When Rolling Stone premiered the song it was noticed by some big names on the music circuit, which helped spread the word. As Peekay was the face of Spotify and ‘Fresh Finds’ playlist for a week, along with being featured on other editorial playlists including YouTube’s official list ‘New Indian Indie’, the song garnered tremendous attention. Big FM and Red FM have also interviewed her on the release of the song. This led to the video hitting 27,000 views within the first two weeks of its release.
Peekay will soon be performing at The Piano Man Delhi and Gurgaon on 3rd and 4th September, respectively. With two more releases slated for this year and perhaps an album next year, she is bubbling with excitement. “Look out for my next release – it’s the cutest song and the coolest artist collaboration! I am thrilled about it! Follow me on Instagram @peekayindia and Spotify, YouTube, etc. so you get all the news!” she says signing off.