A significant part of music journalism is just the frantic desperation of being buried under a tumultuous collection of tracks and albums to review. Throughout all the years, we develop an affinity to some of the music we once heard and forget the others; but there are some numbers so exceptional and introspective that really remind us of music’s perennial power to evoke.
Indie singer-songwriter Sahana Naresh’s latest — Milky Hands is one such track. Naresh spins together a most heartfelt and emotional number inspired by the birth of her daughter — to who she dedicates the tune. Milky Hands is a mother’s memorialization of the innocent infancy of her child, decorated across the track with the whimsical innocence of the sounds of the child laughing and playing with her mother. The song is characteristically indie-pop, accompanied throughout with only the ukulele and Naresh’s saccharine vocals representative of maternal comfort. The song is Naresh’s wonder towards her daughter, while also asking questions representative of worry about shielding the world’s misfortune from her child. Lyricism such as — “This world, how will it treat you / For I can only keep you here with me for now” is representative of such emotions that Naresh conveys through the track. The gentle and traditional indie swing of the song along with its filler solos shows you that Naresh is not hesitant in plucking all the strings of your heart to make it sing.
We had the pleasure of talking to Sahana about her track! Here is a transcript of that conversation:
We learnt that the track was inspired through the birth of your daughter. While we have mentioned the significance of it in the review, we’d love to hear your side of the story about the song’s inspiration.
The day my daughter was born, I was in a lot of pain but her beautiful face, when she entered this world, is still etched in my head. The love I have for her only grows each day, even when I went through the most challenging times in my life – physical pain recovering from childbirth, postpartum depression, and sleep deprivation. A week or two after I gave birth, I was so overcome with love that, one afternoon, the song just came to me in a flash. Luckily, I had a notepad and pen next to my bedside and I managed to jot down the lyrics and record the idea on the phone!
Facing motherhood was quite a challenge, and I took it head-on. And just as I was finding my rhythm and developing some order in all the chaos this little thing called The Pandemic happened! Between running a makeshift studio in my apartment, recording songs while planes flew above our building (never rent on the approach path to an airport if you are a musician), coordinating across different time zones with my cousin (also my producer) in Germany, and entertaining my daughter, it has all been part of the exciting (and wonderfully exhausting) journey of making this single and EP. Sometimes these came together in the form of a happy accident, like when one day my daughter burst into the room babbling loudly while I was in the midst of recording my album. And that vocal outburst went on to become the beginning and end of Milky Hands aka my daughter’s debut performance!
Your Spotify bio says that you’re quite the music fanatic — with mentions of artists ranging from The Beatles to The Strokes and Regina Spektor, to the fundamentals of Carnatic & Hindustani. How would you say have inspired your musical journey?
I fell in love with these artists for their energetic sound and versatile vocals – ranging from impressive falsettos to effortless laid-back singing, whimsical, free-spirited music. I would also add Norah Jones and Jack Johnson to my list – I love Norah for her elegance and soulfulness, and Jack Johnson for his meaningful music, percussive style, and his ability to foster a sense of togetherness while giving back to the community.
Being classically trained, I bring technical rigour and an understanding of vocal nuances to the songs. I feel that I can create unique texture in my songs which is the result of the intricate layering of my favourite instruments and vocal harmonies. My teacher Vidushi. Smt. Aditi Upadhya and my teacher’s father Pt. Dinkar Kaikini’s music has influenced and shaped my musical aesthetic very deeply. Right from focusing on the importance of taal (rhythmic cycle), swar (musical notes) and chandh (the way words sit on and flow with a rhythmic cycle) I have learned to hone and bring finesse to my craft.
There is a difference in genres between your first and second track. Are there specific genres that you’re keen to explore in future tracks?
I would classify most of my music in the singer-songwriter, alt-indie, indie-folk, indie-pop genres. I was lucky enough to have friends play on “The Only Constant is Change”. Since we had a guitar, keys, bass, drums and lapsteel on this particular track it resulted in a unique sound. My comfort zone, in general, is more in the indie-folk space but I am excited to explore music with a little more electronic influences in the future. I am also looking forward to experimenting with some fusion in the indie and Hindustani classical space and see what comes out of that. One of my upcoming tracks in my EP – “Gremlins” is one such experiment and I am excited to share it with you.
What would you say are some troubles recording music as an indie artist?
It is expensive and time consuming to record a single, let alone a full album. In my opinion, being a musician requires some level of financial stability to begin with given the steep costs associated with recording in a studio or even investing in your own equipment. For me specifically, COVID happened around the time I decided I wanted to release an EP so I had to set up a make-shift home studio. In hindsight though, I am glad I did that since I got to record at my own convenience. An added challenge was working with my producer across different time zones but we quickly found a rhythm and learned each other’s way of working.
With two singles (with similar cover arts!), surely a full-length EP or an album can’t be too far away!
Yes, good guess! The full-length EP – “Shore Out Of Reach” releases July 23rd and I am very excited! The EP has 5 tracks (including “Milky Hands” and “The Only Constant Is Change”). I have one track with some fusion experimentation which I am eager to share and the other two are easy listens.
All of us love the track greatly, but how does the person the track is for feel about it?
I wrote “Milky Hands” as an ode to my daughter, Tara and I think she loves it! She has learnt all the words to the song and sings along with me when I play it on the ukulele. Fingers crossed, she feels the same way 18 years from now.