Suyasha Sengupta lead guitarist of Kolkata based indie band ‘The Ganesh Talkies’ is a through and through rockstar. With a hard to resist individual personality and a strong voice on topics that matter, Suyasha is a force to reckon with in the indie scene. She also spends her time creating jingles and singing for Tollywood movies when not working with her band or other productions.
Suyasha recently launched her new solo project called ‘Plastic Parvati’. With this project she wants to express an intimate side to her audience and thus started writing songs about her own feelings on love, sexuality, self deprecation and drug abuse. That resulted in an album called ‘Songs about Lovers’.
I had a chat with Suyasha on her new album and how it all started. She talks about her journey, working on her solo project, collaboration with Miti Adhikari and new age Bedroom Pop.
1. What was the journey like when you were making this album, in terms of your head space ?
Plastic Parvati is essentially my journal where I chronicle the thoughts in my head and the experiences I have being, well, me.
I have always worked best with a band but there is a side to me which I explore through my "solo" music. I don't necessarily want to play live so there's no pressure to people-please.
The album was mostly self-introspection on who I am as a person and the masculine/feminine dynamic that exists within me.
It was last year that I played some of the songlets to Miti Adhikari and we thought it would be interesting to see what came of it. We ended up working on 8 of those scratches and the result was 'Songs About Lovers'.
In terms of headspace, I think it was a selfish need to get these feelings out of my system. I've chosen to share very intimate thoughts, feelings in this record and Miti has been not just a collaborator but my mentor, someone I can trust completely.
2. Songs About Lovers talks about mental health, drug abuse, sexuality, self deprecation. Topics we need to address but not so prevalent in Indian Indie Scene. Was it a conscious decision to work around these topics ?
It wasn't a conscious decision because the songs all come from personal experiences of living life as a woman, a musician in India. This is my life. These are my stories.
Again, I don't expect to get anything out of this record but it would give me peace to know someone somewhere is listening to the album and can feel what I do.
3. Has this been a liberating experience ?
It has helped me find a lot my closure, more than liberation. I will feel liberated the day I know there are enough safe spaces for women and they don't have to constantly second-guess their choices.
Till then I'll have to write more records I suppose.
4. How different is Suyasha the person from Plastic Parvati, Or do you feel connected more than ever ?
Plastic Parvati is only a name. I don't think musicians wear a different hat when they're writing music.
It is just an extension of themselves, a more eloquent version perhaps.
5. You describe this album as Bedroom Pop, what was your set up
I started out writing the record out of my bedroom in Calcutta using just my laptop, my guitar and a midi keyboard. I'd often record some of the vocal parts out of a cheap mic late at night when it was quiet around.
Miti helped me sift through all the layers. He's played some guitar and bass parts in the record and we re-recorded all the vocals in his studio in Calcutta. The idea was to let the songs take the center-stage and not tear our hair over the production cost associated with making a full-length record.
Also, the Lo-Fi/DIY aesthetic really appeals to me because it re instills my faith that you don't need much technology to write a good song. You just need to have something to say.
6. What would you suggest to upcoming female artists who want to get into the indie scene
Work hard. Grow a thick skin. Don't compete against other women, work with them and learn from them. Indian indie is a man's world so be prepared to feel broken and disillusioned at every step of the way.
7. As Plastic Parvati what is your next goal ?
I think I'd like to keep writing more music. That's the only thing I know really.