Raman Negi, the former lead vocalist and guitarist of the rock band the Local Train, had announced in 2022 that he had left the band, shocking indie music enthusiasts. Raman Negi’s debut album, Shakhsiyat, dropped in recently, more than a year and a half after he parted ways with the band. Raman, can definitely tell that breaking free is never simple. The singer-songwriter has been on a quest to find his own musical self since breaking up with a popular band he had created ten years prior. And could be be more successful as a musician?
Though there aren’t many sceptics to begin with, Negi has really shown his skill as a solo artiste with this debut album. On full display throughout Shakhsiyat is his immense skills for writing, producing, and masterfully crafting an album. The strongest aspect of Negi’s debut album, Shakhsiyat, may be its writing. He surely has spent time honing his lyrics. Some of the guitar riffs on Negi’s album stick with the listener long after the album is over, reflecting the artist’s maturity.
We have Negi speaking to us about the Shakhsiyat Tour as it is currently unfolding. He discusses the path since his music went independent, his rise as a solo artist, the fantastic collaboration with Guaurav Chintamani, what 2023 would bring for him, and most importantly, Shakhsiyat.
Excerpts from the interview:
- Let me start by congratulating you on Shakhsiyat. The entire album is a shining example of your talent at composing, producing, and masterfully timing an album. Would you like to discuss the background behind the songs?
Thank you so much first of all. The album Shakhsiyat has songs which would actually showcase my personality as an artist. And the source of inspiration has been in fully songs over the last one year or two - what I’ve been going through and what I have seen, how now I see the world, music and the personal experience that I’ve gone through and also what the idea of being an artist was for me. What has changed also is sort of a reflection on this album and everything is about my personal experiences, where have I reached a person, at the world and my art forma at its best. That’s what has been the inspiration.
2. Which phase of the album Shakhsiyat’s production did you like the most? Would you like to discuss the difficulties faced and the lessons discovered?
I think the most exciting part of recording this album and the production was the time when you have a demo and you go to the studio, get people play on the song and then it comes to life. So you really get to see what you were thinking.
I think the difficult part was to how to have these ten songs which are like guitar driven and how to be innovative in each and every song and not to repeat yourself. Also how to craft these songs in the production phase, in the recording phase and how to turn them into a complete piece of music, every song. And I think that was difficult part of the process, but also I think it was the most rewarding, because you do that and you learn so many tips and tricks and stuff about production and yourself - about your capabilities and skills and I think the most exciting phase was to when actually I was recording in the studio. I love going to studio records.
3. Does it come naturally to you or do you have to make an extra effort to connect with your listeners through your lyrics? What song on the entire record is Raman Negi’s favourite one that is actually about you?
I actually make an extra effort to explore different themes for the songs. Like a political sattire like Mastaani where a guy is trying to flirt with the girl, getting rejected and so on. I’m just glad that what I think is right lyrically or which relates to people and I think it just happens. And that’s exactly the beauty of doing it.
Well, my most favorite at this point in time would be Ek Din. It was one of the last songs, theme, lyrical idea and all that. It’s about how you basically you meet people and you discuss politics and about changing the world.
View this post on Instagram
But when you meet normal people like the cab drivers or like who go out and have a living, when you ask them about politics in the world and they’re like yeah, even I want to, we could have also done it and we could have always done it - but they have family to feed and stuff So that made sense when the song went:
Chaahun mein bhi phoonkna
Takht-o-taazon ki duniya
Kitaabon mein ho Mera
That basically, I also want to have the luxury to talk about changing the world and at least my name as a footnote in a history book. But I don’t have time because I have to go home - like “Ab hone ko raat, mohabbat ka rahi mera intezaar, zulfon mein unkt basti hai meri kaaynaat", saying that I have a family to feed, that’s what my life is. And then he says to console himself that “Duniya mil bhi gayi toh kya samjhegi apne jazbaat".
So I think is my favorite line. Because you don’t get to win every time. And I think it was the most realistic scenario in a song which also reflects on my life.
4. How has working with musician Gaurav Chintamani shaped your life? What has been your biggest takeaway so far?
Well, I can go on about that guy. Meeting him has really shaped my life. I would go ahead and say that it really changed how I look at recording albums and what my idea was and then I met him and he sort of asked me about why I was doing it and why I would take the step and do this. I explained him how about I would just go about the dots on my own and to have my own musicality to be displayed on the album and stuff like that. Working with him has really changed my thought process. Like that guy, he’s the producer, he’s a producer and he engineered the whole album and record it.
So through him I got to really do what I actually wanted to do which was like to have to record all of these songs but in the most real way. Everything should be live and not to fix stuff just to keep it like that. So he also comes from that school of thought in the sense that he’s also old school, like how I am. So it was like a great match for the both of us to do it.
I believe it has really hit because I have become a better guitar player. Because he would make me play things, he would challenge me to do stuff on the mic, to record guitars and to also make me understand that sometimes imperfections should be cherished. So there are so many I guess. I think my sounds really real because we did not try to overproduce it or like to make it perfect every time and every song we just kept what felt right in that moment. And I think in the long run that is going to really work for the album in my opinion, because that’s how all the musicians I listen to work.
View this post on Instagram
I became a better musician. I think I have started loving the studio more and my take away from that is that all the musicians should spend more time in the studio and fail and try again. It like really united a new side of me because I never have thought of myself as a good studio recording artist. Now I am more confident comparing how I used to hate it before but now I love it.
5. How have life and music changed since you went independent? How do you feel about all the parallels between The Local Train and your independent work?
Well, my life post the pandemic has been quite rewarding in the way that I released ten songs over a span of six months. I have produced six official videos for the album. I think the biggest thing was how, I went with my own speed, my own way of work and that was what I wanted - to do things on my own. And of course, to grow at my own speed.
I think my writing has evolved as a rewriter and so has my guitar. I think it’s amazing that people compare a work of ten years to a work of five or six months. It’s amazing. I take it as a compliment. I also believe that my music has evolved into groovier piece of music.
I don’t think we have songs like Mastaani and Shaagird Blues. I have not heard such stuff, which is like funk playing and little blues into it. I think that is a parallel. Maybe I agree, because that’s exactly what I was going for. How I feel about it – I am happy as long as people are talking about me.
6. What upcoming projects are there outside the already successful Shakshiyat that we can look forward to in 2023?
Thank you for calling Shakhsiyat successful. Outside that, I want to get to back to the studio to record more. After this album, I happened to write more songs and honestly, it was supposed to be like a double album but then, my friend told me to just relax and do ten songs first and then see about it. I think I’m going to record another one. I already have like a dozen songs, ideas that I like and I really want to play across the country for some time, for a couple of months and then get back to the studio because I love doing that and just keep writing music, that’s the idea. I really hope I get to record new music this year and that has been my top priority.
7. You will be performing at antiSOCIAL, Mumbai for a group of young individuals, or what we commonly refer to as the Gen Z. What are your hopes and expectations?
Well, I am playing at antiSOCIAL and to young audience and I am and I am very excited about it. I just want to go and give them a good show whoever land up at the gate.
View this post on Instagram
I think it is going to be a great show, a complete rock n roll show which I have rehearsed with my band. It is a four-piece act and this is the first time I am going to be playing my music as a four-piece act. Basically it is guitars, guitars and more guitars and I only want people to land up so that they can see what I have been harping about for the past one year about my music. I really hope they get to see where I am going and what my idea of Hindi music is about and about how I want to represent it. I will show them different things they might not be aware of. Those are my expectations.
Read all the Latest Lifestyle News here