Sukanti & Anushree On Shifting From The City Of Joy to the City Of Dreams, And What’s Cooking In 2018

Sukanti & Anushree took the indie music circuit by storm once they released their debut album Ashmaan (2013) — eight original compositions that seamlessly fused together two different genres of music—acoustic and electronica. Together with earthy folk soundscapes, the album was a winner. The duo has spearheaded the genre with grace and grit to say the least. 

It’s 2018, and many things have changed since then, for starters, they have already released their second album Centurion Relay (2015), and more importantly, they have moved cities—from the City Of Joy to the City Of Dreams.

We catch up with the duo, who tells us more about how the move has affected their creative insight, how Mumbai inspires them as a band, and more. We find out more on this segment of the #shadesofsoundseries    

Your band has a really interesting sound, could you tell us what goes into making something that you call electro-acoustic?

Sukanti: When you are pairing two different genres of music together, you try and find a word that describes the aspect of the music, so that the listener can connect to an idea about what your music is. Ours is not straight as a rock or a heavy metal band, because it’s fusion, right? So, we have to focus on a word to make the listener understand what we are as a duo. So, it’s a mix of electronic and acoustic music, that's why the word ‘electro-acoustic’.

Then there is the question of what comes first. I think it was pre-decided that this is the genre we wanted to work on. It was like some kind of a finding—finding two different forms of music and arriving at a point where both members feel comfortable composing songs and arriving at a sound. Also, you need to understand that a band takes time to lock on to a sound, and with time we eventually arrived at what we are today. We initially started as an acoustic duo, but we soon found out that we could add other elements of interest, in this case, electronica. So, we incorporated it slowly into our sound.

It’s been a year since you have shifted bases from Calcutta to Bombay—what would you say are the differences between the City of Joy and City of Dreams, as far as the music scene, and the daily hustle is concerned?  

Anushree: Kolkata has its own laidback nature, which lends itself to the possibility of learning, as in, it’s the best place to learn the art form, and Bombay is a great place to work, to apply what you have learnt, for me it’s as simple as that. I was born and raised in Kolkata, and I have learnt my music there, then came self-learning, and then there was my stint with folk music, so that way Kolkata has been a blessing, because you grow up with a lot of music around you, the way of learning is seamless, I would say.

Bombay, again, I have always loved this city, it’s more competitive here, that means there are more opportunities, expanding your musical horizons and being more flexible as a musician not just as a singer-songwriter, but as a composer. This kind of a feeling is not there in Kolkata. I also feel that you should be sure before moving bases because, you can either love this city, or be frustrated with Bombay, you know? It’s a fast-paced city, and it has its fair share of good and bad. Personally, I love this city, but for someone else, it can be a bit overwhelming.

As far as the hustle is concerned, it’s there everywhere, come on we are in India, after all! We moved spaces because as a band we were looking at exploring newer avenues of music making and Kolkata was restricting us from doing so.

Does Bombay inspire you in your creative journey, if yes, how?

Sukanti: When we came here, we didn’t have any clear thought of what we wanted to do, just that Bombay has more opportunities and we could shift our music here and see what happens. After we came to Bombay and we spent some time in the city, we started meeting people, mostly musicians, it led us to an inspiring opening because everybody has a different opinion about the city. Like you mentioned in your earlier question about shifting from the City Of Joy to the City Of Dreams, it’s exactly like that, you know? (laughs). The City Of Joy is where you get a sense of joy in whatever you do in any creative pursuit, be it painting, music, it’s more joyous, but the opportunities are less, I would say. Interesting, when you bring this creative bag to a city which has more chances, it just inspires you in more ways than one. Also, you get to see this seamless marriage of art and commerce, which is important.  

Anything exciting you are currently working on?

Anushree: We are always working on exciting things. Since the time we moved here, I have been writing a lot of original music, since as a society we are in a lot of chaos right now, and this is something that inspires me to write. We have been sitting on a lot of original material which we will be releasing as singles one by one. One of the biggest challenges is creating a music video, because that is a different ball game altogether. Like we recently released a song called Ishita (originally written in Bengali and part of their first album Ashmaan), then we will be releasing a song called Zindagi, there is another on called Doobti Nau, which a friend of ours wrote and I love that song, then there is a tune called Aadat. We are just looking at shooting videos for all these songs, because given the times, a video is important for a better response.

What is the essence of Sukanti & Anushree? What are the things that hold you together as a duo?

Sukanti: It’s the seamless connection of music and creativity, I would say. Anushree and I always stumble upon newer ideas, or rather smaller ideas, and we try to hibernate and grow these small ideas into songs. To be a little elaborate, I play a small riff that I may have been working on, and give it a pattern of sorts like a four-chord pattern or an arpeggio kind of a structure on the guitar, this is where Anushree comes into and says “Hey I have got an idea, can you play that again?” I keep playing that pattern and she jots down some lines and tells me, “See how this fits in that.” So, that small idea grows into a big idea. After, that, I start production, like adding drums and bass lines, and then it finally turns into a song. Bits and pieces fall into place, and this is what ties us together as a duo.   

What does a day in the life of Sukanti & Anushree look like?

Anushree: It starts as a regular day. Once we are up, we get together, then we work on our music, then I sit separately and practice, and so does Sukanti. I will be frank with you, it’s not that every day we are doing profound musical things, sometimes we sit with a cup of coffee and do nothing! Which is equally important to do as bands mates and best friends together. So, I don’t want to tell you that we make kick-ass things every day. We agree, we disagree, we share ideas, we meet musician friends from Bombay, and we jam together, so these all are part and parcel of making music. And this is who we are, we are very collaborative, because this is what keep things going, you know?

What do sunglasses mean to you?

Anushree: I love sunglasses, and I have hopelessly big eyes, and then I have dry eyes too, (since she was in the seventh standard). I cannot sit through a three-hour film, because if I do then my eyes turn red. So, sunglasses are not just a luxury, but it’s an integral part of my life, because I cannot go out into the sun without a pair. I am a book nerd, so that can also be the cause. I love cat eye sunglasses because they give you a chiselled look, also square-shaped sunglasses because they go with anything. I like sunglasses that are contemporary, and help me stand out.     

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