Singer-Songwriter Kavya Trehan on Her New Solo Project
Delhi based singer-songwriter Kavya Trehan takes her first steps as a solo producer-vocalist, with her dreamy new electro-pop single ‘Underscore’. We caught up with the artist to find out more about her upcoming release, and new direction…
You seem to have your hands full, what’s been keeping you busy lately?
Kavya x Chaz is an ongoing collaboration; it’s where Chaitanya Bhalla and I come together and play live. With Kavya x Chaz we’re also figuring out what to release. (Now that I’ve realised how liberating it feels to release music!) Up until now I was having so much fun playing our music live that I didn’t feel the need to release anything. My band MOSKO has a single coming out soon too. And then my solo project of course.
How long has the solo project been in the works?
Since I was 14, pretty much! Solo artists can’t really work without genuinely having something to share. Otherwise what am I going to write about? My breakfast? Pfft who cares about that?
With this EP I’ve touched upon what I’ve experienced last year. For me, it was all about growing up. I’ve led an unconventional life, with a single parent and a sister – three ladies in the house – all pursuing creative fields and the ups and downs it brings. (Even my cats are female!)
In what way is it different from the music you make with your other projects?
I am my own boss. I get to enjoy being vulnerable, being honest with my music. It also reflects a carefully built aesthetic.
What artists or albums were you listening to, in the course of working on this?
I revisited Iron & Wine. I actually heard a lot of new music too. I was looking for something to inspire me as I searched for a new percussive sound. I gravitated towards a lot of Korean low-fi hip-hop, which just played in the background as I went about my day.
You’re completely self-taught – tell us about some of the key things you’ve learned over the last few months of working on this EP.
YouTube is bae. Keep yourself isolated and only share your music with close ones. Don’t love your first song. Paper is a versatile instrument. And cats delete files on purpose.
I couldn’t afford a lot of the softwares required to produce, leave alone the instruments. I owe it to my friends, who shared their Ableton (digital audio workstation) with me. I was able to get on YouTube and learn how to use it best with the help of tutorials. People I’ve collaborated with in the past – from Dualist Inquiry to Grain to BLOT – have taught me everything from how to save a file to the meaning of ADSR. Also, the best piece of advice I got was from Sahej Bakshi (of Dualist Inquiry) who warned me against falling in love with my first few tracks; which took some time to sink in.
There were some happy accidents. I once left my mic on, while writing. It captured me writing on paper, crushing it and throwing it away. I used it on a track! If you pay attention to the sounds around you, you realise that anything can be used as an instrument.
Also, my cat deleted the first few versions of the songs that are on this EP. It took me eight months to recreate them. But they’re all the better for it.
Whom did you collaborate with on the EP?
I’ve produced a lot of the stuff in my room. But at the end of the day, since I’m just starting out as a producer, I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach the level of production I’ve aspired to. So I went to Rohan Ramanna and Rohan Rajadhyaksha. They’ve helped make my chords and structures more complex and lush. Drive it more towards what I wanted it to sound like.
Tell us about the making of your new video?
Everyone goes through experiences where they fall, learn to pick themselves up and move on. This was a take on it. Except, it’s not a heavy message. It just reminds you to not take life too seriously. It’s represented by a girl who keeps losing her balloon. In the end she learns to let it go! It’s got a child-like innocence to it. It’s humour you can relate to.
Shawn Thomas (director, who’s worked with Divine and Raja Kumari) and I shot this over a day in Los Angeles. He heard the song, and shared the storyboard he envisioned for it; he knew exactly the kind of shots we needed. He’s just so talented!
So when does the EP get released?
I have a few singles coming up first, and the EP is in the works too. I’m taking my own time, and kind of fleshing this out one song at a time – whether it’s through live performances, acoustic versions, touring with it or through videos. I’m in no hurry to just throw music out. But soon!