Tejas Museum

What singer-songwriter Tejas offers you is an array of different music textures. He has one solid foot in the pop space and the other probably jumping in and out of rock, electronica, synth-wave and Indian classical music. You might recognize his voice as Archies in Netflix’s The Archies and his last album was the highly-rated signature medley of rock, funk, R&B, soul and electronica that won him plenty of accolades and fans. He departs from Outlast for his new EP, Museum. Listen to his new museum that finds inspiration in Indian folk aesthetics mixed with his own evolved brand of progressive English pop music. More below. 

Tell us about your beginnings.
While I was born in India (Hyderabad to be specific), I spent my first 18 years in Dubai. Classic “gulfy” as they say, and to further a stereotype, I am also from Kerala. My father moved from India to the U.A.E in 1973, and I lived there from 1989 to 2007. I studied in an Indian private school called Modern High School, and in my time there and just generally in the Middle East, we had such a mix of influences from Bollywood, to syndicated American and British television. And I was raised with the pop music and culture.

When and how did your romance with music begin? What is your earliest memory of music? 
My earliest memories are probably listening to the radio while we’d go on long drives in the car. That was just a thing we did as a family when I was little, “go for a drive”. There are long stretches of highways with plenty of time to cruise and just listen to radio shows, along with my elder brother. I think Michael Jackson and lots of Bollywood stuff are probably the first things I ever heard. My real romance with music was through Disney films and their songs—Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan—all very influential.

How would you describe your music sensibility to someone new to your music?
I think my music has got one foot firmly in the pop space, and the other probably jumping in and out of my other passions. I love rock, electronica, synthwave, musical theatre, and also cinema plays a huge role in my life. I probably give more movie references to my band than actual songs, for when we are writing or mixing.

What was the starting point for Museum?
The starting point was technically the process of sampling, where I would take old records and try and create something new from small snippets I would like. I would even play temporally with sounds, looping them backwards and getting a bit of a reversed tape aesthetic. I also love history and actual museums; I’ve always been going to them from the time I was a kid. But I think the real turning point was my father’s death, with whom I had a complex relationship. That really moved me to look inward at my own history.

It comes from a deep personal space. Was it a cathartic process? 
I think the catharsis has come from sharing my story with others and when others reached out to me while I was grieving for my father. I don’t know if I have put my understanding of my father to rest or not, but I think that people understand that what I am thinking about often has made it easier to be myself around them. Also, I just think it's universal, death is inevitable. Morbid as it sounds, there’s no way around that.

Does the melody come to you first or the lyrics? 
I think that music is something that inspires me the most these days. The actual sounds I’m hearing and the way they are treated. Is it Atmospheric? Is it cinematic? Is it moody, dark, energetic or plain cool? It moves me to write something based on how that sound makes me feel and then I just try to think that if it moves me, it might move someone else. It’s more of a visceral, in-your-bones kind of feeling.

Where did the idea of fusing classical music with your beats come from? What are you trying to communicate through it?
I wanted to find a new context for my music, where I could embrace a little bit of my own culture, my own Indianness as it were. I think fusion is just a sadly overused term, but I wanted to make the space for it where it doesn’t seem forced or out of place. I think my job was to set the context for it.

What are you working on next? 
Currently, I’m working on the full-length LP for Museum which will be out later this year, and the 10-year anniversary reissue of my first record Small Victories which came out in 2014. Then, I move on to the sequel to Museum. Pretty excited about it!

Words Hansika Lohani
Date 11.04.2024