There is something inherently captivating about artists. Be it a painter, dancer, filmmaker or musician, artists in general are a breed of their own. What separates us normal folk from them is one crucial thing, passion.
So why should you know anything about Sandeep Mittal? For starters, back in the day he used to run Gigpad. Gigpad was an online forum which was the fulcrum of the scene. It was instrumental in many ways to give the scene a tangible sense of community. Musicians met musicians, discussed about gigs, reviewed them and what not. You see in a time where there was no ‘scene’, Gigpad was the online platform which helped mould one.
But no I’m not talking about Sandeep who ran Gigpad, or Sandeep the guy who runs a firm or even Sandeep the father. I’m talking about an inspiring musician. For Sandeep Mittal has successfully managed to put out a rather delightful album named Riven, that you all need to check out.
So you must be thinking that songs/EPs/albums are dropped daily, what’s so special about this guy? DIY to its core, Sandeep managed to record and mix this exquisite album along with his talented collaborators Shamir & Prasun at home. Sonically seductive to its core, this album righteously demands multiple listens given it’s circumstances. This album is Sandeep Mittal and Sandeep Mittal is a charismatic amalgamation of DIY, independent, robots, wolves and guitars.
But more than anything, Sandeep Mittal is inspiring.
We got to speak with Sandy about the Gigpad days, the process of making Riven and his journey so far. Check it out!
Q) Could you tell us about the Gigpad days?
All kinds of ups and downs was the defining feature of the Gigpad days. The high of creating something which takes off and helps define an 8-10 year period in the scene is pretty awesome. Seeing the bands that came together over Gigpad, the people that got talking for the first time, the fights and trolling, the spin offs that got created then and are now much larger establishments, all of it.
Sure Gigpad defined the scene for a while, but it’s not like Gigpad made so many things happen by itself, it was just some kind of glue that turned up at the right time, and we got the chance to witness an important period in the scene. Strange how so many folks from then are still so vital to the scene now.
Q) How do you think handling Gigpad and being at the fulcrum of the scene at that time influenced the musician in you?
It did to the extent that one got to hang out with some awesome musicians and see them at work, pick up the odd lesson from Warren etc, hear demo albums by the dozen. It definitely created a strong conviction around writing original music. It also helped shed some of the classic rock that clung to one’s skin at the time and got me to listen to new music.
So strange as it may seem, the biggest influence of Gigpad has been on one’s perspective, not one’s music. Perspective on what matters to you as an artist – the musicianship/ the songwriting/ the creation process – that’s what Gigpad exposed me to, and I’ve learnt from it.
Q) What are the similarities and the difference in the scene between the scene during the Gigpad days and now?
So hard for me to tell as I’m not really into the scene anymore. But from a very peripheral and perhaps nostalgia biased view – the core is different. Instead of Razz, the venue is now Phoenix. Everybody seems to be fitter and happier. Everybody seems to be playing in 5 bands, 3 solo projects and participating in some art collective at the same time. Everybody seems to have an unused DJ mixer to sell. It’s happysad.
Q) Which are the musicians from the scene that have influenced you over the years?
I’ve liked strong songwriting. So Sidd/ Zero, Pentagram, Colourblind, AFS, PDV, Them Clones, Nikhil and Tajdar Junaid, Siddharth Basrur, new stuff from Tejas and Jishnu, the guitar work of Warren, Sunny. To be honest there’s no one that dominates from the local scene, but you’re always a product of your influences at some level so yeah – all of these and more!
Q) Which are the fresh acts from the new scene that you really dig?
Don’t follow the new scene like I used to but I’ve liked what I heard of Tejas, The Mavyns (not that new though), F16s, Short Round, Sky Rabbit. Ah hard one; I really am so not in touch with the scene!
Q) Tell us about your album.
It was a long time in the making. Songs written over 3-4 years and then recorded and mixed at home over another year. Pretty much a project you do to push yourself – so I learnt mixing, and I found people to collaborate with for drums and vocals and figured the production process.
I played with a band briefly in the 2010-2012 years – The Second Shift – and we put out a (demo) album that was decidedly amateur, though I must say some of the songs were really good. So I wanted this to be less amateur, at the same time I wanted to keep it DIY. So that really took effort, but in Shamir and Prasun I had some really good collaborators – not pros, guys in white collar jobs, same constraints as me, but with the drive to push hard.
So songs like Riven, that got written in no time, is about a feeling is separation which you think you can live with (the name came from the PC game I played 20 years ago). Put On Your Face came from mourning a death. Sweetness Follows came from being in love and knowing how precious little time you get. River’s Edge came from looking into the future to the time when your kids grow up and you need to redefine your life. Fireflies is a tiny movie unto itself.
Q) How has time and being a family man influenced your music over the years? Would the album sound the same if you had written it during the GigPad days?
Time is such a precious resource. I’ve got a full time job to keep at and a young son, so they take top priority. Music is a late night and weekend thing that I’m crazy about so I manage to give it some time pretty much every day, but it’s not much time. But family gives you perspective in the songwriting, it gives you things to talk about, it also pushes away the need to be anything but you.
I don’t know if the album would have been too different in the Gigpad days. Impossible to tell really, but I think there’s more depth to the writing now – back then the songs I wrote would often try too hard.
Q) What’s your plan for the future?
I’ve got so many songs inside me, so now that I know I can do an album it’s time to get out the next batch and do it better. Record it in a studio, expand the collaborations etc. And then do yet another by which time I should have some mastery over the craft – and make that a wider release, perhaps play the songs live. As you get older, you also get better at making plans that build slowly but surely. I’ve also wanted to do different sounds from the ones on Riven – more orchestral stuff, more layered music, and sometime, completely stripped down music too. I’ve been generally shy of doing music for others “to a brief” but am attempting that now, doing music for a play – but that’s not likely to become a regular feature. Much more likely is a series of albums, EPs, Singles…
I’ve been told the real deal is the take it all live and I want to do that – its the only way to build an audience. But that’s going to take a while. Perhaps some day I’ll take a sabbatical from work and get a live band together!
A big thank you to Sandy for having that interview with us. Do subscribe to his YouTube channel to keep up to date with his latest releases! Also do check Riven out; it’s up for free download on Bandcamp.
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