The greatest and most important adventure of our lives is discovering who we really are. We mistakenly think of self-understanding as self-indulgence and we carry on without asking the most important question we’ll ever ask: Who am I really? As Mary Oliver put it, ‘what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’
It is a process that involves breaking down – shedding layers that do not serve us or don’t reflect who we really are. Yet, it also involves a tremendous act of building up – recognising who we want to be and passionately going about fulfilling our unique destiny – whatever that may be. For Jaimin, it was music. ‘It’s true that for a very long time I did not listen to any kind of music, but that was because I wasn’t drawn towards any of the artistes that my peers were listening to. Only towards the end of high school, I discovered voices that made me feel a certain way which I had never felt before - Jim Morrison, Frank Sinatra, Dylan, Freddie Mercury, Roy Orbison, Cliff Richard and Hank Williams, to name a few. I found honesty, simplicity and sophistication in their music – with just the right elements, their songs are comprehensible and not superfluous at all. This is the quality I appreciate and admire the most even now.’
It was all very sudden for him; he watched the Concert for Bangladesh with George Harrison take over the stage and was blown away by Harrison’s unparalleled showmanship and stage persona. By the time he finished singing My Sweet Lord, the seed was sown.
Jaimin was born in Bombay and predominantly raised in Calcutta in a conservative Gujarati family where even a cursory thought of aspiring to become a singer-songwriter was unfathomable. They were only encouraged to pursue more lucrative disciplines such as chartered accountancy, business or computer science. ‘Who and how I was back in those days, is far behind me. I went to Poona to avail a degree in business administration which turned out to be quite useless. After having worked at an illustrious conglomerate in Bombay followed by my stint at a small advertising agency in Kala Ghoda, I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t cut out for such jobs. As far as my schooling goes, I’d rather dissociate from my alma mater than talk about it.’
Jaimin’s debut work is a full length album called Cutting Loose. A long four- teen-track album of music that is confrontational, conversational and was born out of an urge to give a voice to his feelings. ‘It actually took about two years of work to put this album together but yes, some of the songs were written seven years ago when I had just started to write. Initially, other songwriters inspired me. Now, the urge to express a thought or a feeling that can best be conveyed in this format is reason enough to write a song. I thought it’d be nice to properly record some of the songs and put them out to see how they’re received by others instead of sitting on them. So that’s how it transpired.’
The music on the album was also a work of experimentation to make it sound what the album sounds like now. ‘Subharaj Ghosh (lead guitarist, co-producer) and I used to meet actively to brainstorm and figure out the instrumentation, requirements, tempo and things like the tone of the electric guitar and which acoustic guitar to use on which song. Since I had no prior experience in studio recording or performing in a group, I was having a tough time playing to a metronome. So as a hack and as an alternative, I asked Subharaj to program the drums for me. Then I recorded my parts on top of those programmed drum tracks. Later we got real drummers to play on the songs of course. The goal was to establish a unified sound for the album.’
Jaimin mostly writes in solitude without any company. Some production related decisions are collaborative, but not conception. ‘We’re all constantly changing and becoming more of ourselves with every passing day. This album is like a log file. If written with honesty, each song represents a timestamp of a songwriter’s life. In their original and primitive stage, they sounded very different from one another. In order to package it well, we added flesh and turned them into a homogenous collec- tion so that it sounds like they all belong to the same batch, but the structure essentially coincides with the original states.' And like most creatives, inspiration to Jaimin can come from everything and everywhere. A song idea. It could be anything – ‘a lyric, a riff, a melody or sometimes simply a topic / theme that occurs and acts as a precursor for the composition. If I find it to be compelling enough, I pursue it. The rest of the writing happens in an altered state of mind I believe.' On the work front, the musician recently collaborated with the American band, The Bluegrass Journeymen.
Words Hansika Lohani