by Gorkey Patwal
A melophile based out of Bombay, Karshni Nair is actually from Mathura. Her beginnings in music were marked by choir rehearsals and lessons from a music teacher, from whose technique she still borrows heavily. “I’ve been fortunate to have some stellar music teachers over the years, who have taught me the importance of finding a way to effectively express myself,” she says. Professionally, she made a promising start with songs like Josephine on the Floor, while exploring themes of death, memory, and belonging. Now, however, she feels light and might write about “happier things” after returning from her tour with Shantanu Pandit. And since earlier this year, Karshni has also been putting out new songs exclusively on Bandcamp every month, with the latest release being This Time. “This song is about a place in time, where I meet my favourite artist. He has left much before seeing the impact of his music. No one listened to him when he was alive, but now his music provides comfort to so many. In this meeting, I beg him to stay a little longer and wait for the sound of the applause — ‘Maybe it’ll come around, this time.’”
A budding new star, meet Karshni:
GUITAR AND KEYS
I started learning how to play guitar when I was about thirteen years old. The first time I held the guitar, my teacher asked me to stretch my hands across the fretboard to see how many frets my fingers could cover. I had really small hands. I was super inconsistent, so I never properly dedicated myself to the craft. I learnt the keys on my own, so I’m a little iffy on them. Basically, I know enough to be able to create new melodies and experiment with chords.
Death has always been a super intriguing subject to write about. As morbid as it may sound, I can think of so many different ways and effects of dying, and how ironic they may be in comparison to how I have lived. My daily life is very still, I live in a place that is quiet and the way I see it, a place where nothing really happens. It is easy then, to ponder, over death. It is also easy to drown oneself in nostalgia and write about all the happiest memories that I have in this place before it became so still. I alternate between the two. Mostly, I choose the former.
I listened to Nick Drake on repeat for a month, read about him, all these really old articles reviewing his perfor- mances and stuff. When I sat down to write after listening to so much of his music, what came out was something vaguely similar to what I’d heard in his songs. It wasn’t all there, but subconsciously, I’d tried to sound like him. The lyrics of This Time are about him. We’re not exactly looking for influences as songwriters, they just hit us all at once. Whatever settles deep down within us is what we finally write about.
I just got back from the tour. The last show was in Hyderabad. It’s been the best experience of my life, probably. With tours, even though I have an opening set that isn’t that long, it’s tricky to maintain consistency. That’s what I’m learning with this one. I love to sing with Shantanu and I feel lucky to be able to harmonise with him and add something special to his songs. They deserve everything.
I thought it would be about death and darkness for a long time, but after this tour, it seems like it might be about love, light, and happier things. Might be a while before those songs are written though.
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Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani