Singer-songwriter Paloma Majumder Of Paloma and Adil Discusses Their New EP And More

If you haven’t heard about this compelling electronic duo from Kolkata, then you are missing something in life, my friend! Now, that we have made the statement, we will tell you why we think they are one of the top emerging acts in the country right now. First, is guitarist Adil—the ways he produces and crafts the music is noteworthy, and second and the best reason by far is Paloma—the soul of the band. Listen to her, and you will notice the timbre in her voice, it hits you in the feels right from the get-go. Also, she has a technics in place. We can go on and on about how equipped she is as a singer-songwriter, but, we will save that for a rainy day! 

We catch up with Paloma, one-half of experimental electronic mood music outfit Paloma and Adil, who tells us more about their fairly new EP Alonely, the themes on the album, and pet-peeves as a singer-songwriter. We find out more in this segment of the #shadesofsoundseries.

Paloma and Adil feel like a dynamic duo. How did you guys get together? Interesting backstories you might remember?

So, both of us are from Kolkata and we met at Jadavpur University. Back in 2013, I had sung at a Freshers’ Event on campus, as a student, where Underground Authority was a guest performer and Adil had heard me sing then and encouraged me to sing more and work with him. I was primarily a dancer before I started singing for fun at college events, so of course, I didn’t follow up. However, a year later, in 2014, one of my seniors from college had asked me to sing one of his Bangla originals, called Byartho Shohorer Gaan, for a play and he asked Adil to do the music and production and that’s when we properly re-met and after the song came together I told Adil how I wrote poems and songs. Since then Adil kept encouraging and pushing me to get an original out there but I had always been sceptical to show what I wrote to people and it took me a long time (read almost a year) to actually show Adil the kind of stuff I write. So, after a slow and gruelling process (mostly for Adil) Paloma and Adil finally came together for the first time in May 2016. We’ve been making songs for one-and-a-half years now. 

You released your EP titled Alonely a few months ago. Could you tell a bit about how the extended play was created, the themes and the idea behind it?

Alonely doesn’t embody any one theme in particular. It has a multitude of themes running through it. The songs are personal and each number talks about a different feeling. The description of the physical copy of our EP reads “Feelings just like moments are fleeting. Alonely is about putting all these restless thoughts amidst the mundanity of everyday life into words and music.” So that kind of sums it up. The rest of the description on the physical copy reads “we also love chili cheese fries” which a lot of people question and ask us 'why include something humorous after writing something so deep', but I think that best defines us, which is that you can't just put people in your own box just because it is comfortable to you and that is what Alonely is all about.

We like to call our music “mood music” and the sound of the EP was deliberately crafted. Although, it did come after almost a year of performing these songs live and experimenting in the studio which is basically Adil’s room. Adil’s sense of melody and music production is what makes the songs what it is. It just gives the songs the right kind of vibe and brings the whole EP together.

The EP has five songs, can you take us through them—the meaning and inspirations behind them, please? 

The lyrics, if you delve a little deep into it is mostly storytelling. While Fly a Little is about escaping mundanity and worries of day to day life, Keep Me In Mind talks about living your life with violence in the background and remembering lives lost in “collateral damage” of countries at war right now. Hold On Or Let It Go on the other hand is about the stagnancy of a romance while City Lights is about the want to move from a city, yet not being able to leave it behind completely. So, you see how all the songs are pretty personal and weaved from stray thoughts that occupy our minds. Alonely as the title track binds everything together and celebrates individuality and speaks about how it’s okay to not be in a box, stand out in a crowd, be lonely, even if you’re not alone.

The inspirations behind these songs are basically anything that troubles my mind. Daily activities and fleeting feelings that one has to go through. I’m most inspired by my ceiling, I can stare at it for hours, just gathering thoughts. That’s where the good stuff happens.

The illustration on the album cover looks interesting, with the panda in the back with wings, with its hands folded. What does it signify? Who created the doodle?

We basically did not want to use stock art or a photograph as an album cover. Plus, as independent artists, we always would want to support other indie artists. We’re pretty lucky to be acquainted with people who do crazy artwork and have a statement style and that’s what we wanted to incorporate. If you look closely, there are a lot of small details on the doodle that signify bits and pieces of every song we have on the EP. The artist is Kumarjeet Majumder, who also happens to be my brother. I’ve grown up admiring his artwork so I definitely wanted him to do it. The Panda that stands out in the sketch is significant of our abbreviated names, Paloma and Adil, as in..., “PandA.”

As an artist, what do you feel about freedom of expression in India?

Freedom in India is a phrase I can’t wholly accept and own up to. Freedom right now is whatever is convenient, we’re all just one move away (a move that doesn’t suit the dominant thought) from being anti-nationals. 

But I’m a silly cynic and a believer who thinks knowledge helps free the mind and that’s a step forward to realizing the word free still holds meaning beyond the confines of the rulebook of society. Then again, I must acknowledge the fact that I speak from a privileged position in society in accordance with my familial ties (even though I’m a woman, wink wink!). So, freedom of expression as an artist or human is basically being able to say what I want to out loud and not be categorized or fear being put down, which is an ideal that our country is yet to achieve.

Your pet-peeves as a singer-songwriter?

I have different pet peeves as a vocalist and a songwriter. As a songwriter, I hate how when a song is going in a good direction I get stuck on that one word that I perhaps do not want to use and then it’s all a downward spiral from there. As a vocalist, it sometimes gets a bit too much when people just want to hear covers. Ugh! (rolls eyes)

What do sunglasses mean to you?

To me, sunglasses are a fun accessory. Also, I love observing people, places and their mannerisms, and with the help of sunglasses I can just zone out at outdoor cafés and write stuff without being questioned as to why I am staring into nothing. Now that I said that, it sounds all wrong and I swear I am not a creep! (laughs)

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Get the EP here.

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