Singer-songwriter ROHAN SOLOMON speaks with SHALINI SAKSENA about western music scene in Delhi, how he wrote his first song at 13 and what kind of music inspires him
How did you get interested in music?
I’ve loved music ever since I was a child. I think the first song I was ever obsessed with is Lakdi ki kaathi from the movie Masoom. My parents and brother had a collection of cassette tapes and LP records in the house that ranged from Michael Jackson, Jackson 5 and The Beatles. I used to listen to them all the time. I learnt how to play the piano and guitar. After discovering songwriting, I found an outlet where I could express my thoughts and feelings. One day in school, my house was on duty and the kid who was supposed to perform the talent segment fell ill. I got up on stage and performed and got a standing ovation. I knew from that day onwards that music is more than just a hobby to me. It’s my passion, it’s my life.
How old were you when you wrote your first song?
It was actually just a few days after my 13th birthday. I wrote it for a girl in my class that I had a crush on at the time. It’s actually a good song and can hold its own even if I played it today. Lyrically it’s definitely very teen pop, but musically, it can be appreciated by adults even today. It’s the song that started my songwriting journey and I’m definitely very proud of it. I don’t think I’ll ever perform it live on stage, but I play it every now and then when I’m alone even now. In fact, I played it on a live stream on social media one time.
A lot of artists are singers, song-writers and composers. Is there a reason for donning so many hats?
It’s usually developed along the way for many musicians. It’s also a smart business model to be able to have multiple skills in this industry. I can’t really speak for anyone else, but in my journey, I never saw singing and songwriting as two different things. Perhaps because I started doing both around the same time. At the end of the day, having multiple skills is never a bad thing. If you enjoy the process, then it honestly doesn’t even feel like work.
How did you get associated with The Big Beat?
Well, I’ve known Malvika Nanda (founder of The Big Beat) for many years. When I moved back to India, Malvika gave me a lot of guidance and just helped me out so much as a friend. We got such an amazing response from the three singles that we did, that I just told her that I’m writing some new songs as a solo artist as well, let’s keep the ball moving.
This is your third single this year. Has it been tough to work under the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic?
At first, it seemed tough because it limited my access to better studios with better equipment and acoustics. But I realised that my home studio actually sounds pretty great and I already had the tools I needed to make a great sounding record. Thanks to technology and amazing audio plugins that are being made today, producing music from home has become a breeze.
The only situation where it became a problem is when I’m producing for other artists. Obviously, they can’t come over to the studio any more. So, we’ve been doing everything online through video chat and screen sharing. It’s been an adjustment but we’ve found our rhythm.
How is the western music scene in Delhi?
Before we got hit with the pandemic, I was regularly judging college music competitions and was introduced to so many amazing young artists that are writing their own songs and very western influenced. There are probably only one or two places that I can think of where you could go watch a live western music band perform. Everything else was basically all DJs and electronic music. That’s something that I wasn’t too happy about to be honest. I hope that more venues open their minds and their hearts and start promoting live bands a bit more. There is enough room for multiple genres of artists to co-exist.
What kind of music inspires you?
My musical taste has changed over the years. I’ve been in a rock and metal zone, funk zone and Broadway musicals. These days I'm more into singer-songwriter pop kind of stuff. Some of the artists that I'm vibing on these days are Sara Bareilles, Charlie Puth and Keith Urban. I also love the new Taylor Swift folk album. I’m also loving stuff that has a symphony orchestra in it. That’s my vibe these days. It’s inspiring me to write new music.
You can definitely expect more music from me soon. I am in a state of writing constantly. I’d say even more so at the moment, since I’m in the hills and fresh mountain air and sunshine make the perfect combination to get your creative juices flowing. I’m enjoying the process of writing new songs. I’m also loving pulling songs out of the vault.