Skunk In The Cellar: An Interview With Shantanu Pandit
It’s a fear we all share as artists. The fear that comes with the task of bearing one’s heart and soul to a world that may not always be accepting of it. Putting one’s visions, ideas, beliefs, confessions, heartbreaks, out on the industry clothes line vulnerable to the storms of criticism, rejection, or perhaps just apathy.
A fear that takes courage to conquer, but once overcome can make for the most honest and pure forms of artistic expression.
“I’ve felt uncertain about all my material at some point of time or the other,” says Delhi based singer/songwriter Shantanu Pandit. “I still feel uncertain about Skunk in the Cellar sometimes. Some of the songs on the EP don’t particularly reflect a pleasant state of mind, and at some level, I didn’t know how I felt about putting them out. But over time, I learned that I just can’t get myself to play a song without that feeling that I’m adequately expressing myself.”
Skunk In The Cellar – Shantanu’s recently released EP – is an intimate collection of five songs, personal portraits of his quickly maturing musical identity. “There’s the question of being someone you’re not just so you can feel better about it. I feel that Skunk in the Cellar is an accurate representation of how I express myself musically. So whether the songs were sombre or not – that didn’t matter. I just needed to express myself.”
Shantanu’s musical influences and inspirations are apparent at first listen of his soulful vocals that resonate with experience years beyond this 21 year old’s age. The stories he tells have an aura of quiet, poetic simplicity, and a certain sincerity that only few musicians are truly able to communicate through their music. “My influences include Dylan along with most of the music from the folk period in the US around the sixties,” he told IndiEarth. “I’m also influenced by Gregory Alan Isakov, Bombay Bicycle Club and some other contemporary indie-folk bands. I also remember my mum singing me songs by The Carpenters – particularly Top of the World – probably before I could even talk in English properly.”
Though he doesn’t write with particular situations in mind, the common thread connecting Shantanu’s EP is the idea of love. “There aren’t any stories to tell, really. The songs didn’t stem from one or many instances or experiences in particular that I can point out – it’s more abstract. For one, they’re all love songs that aren’t about any one thing that may (or may not) have happened. I guess it’s some form of creative romanticism.” The artist’s musical moorings extend to another Delhi based indie folk outfit that he is also a member of, alongside musicians Bhairav Gupta, Danik Ghosh, and Dhruv Bhola. “I write and perform music with another act by the name of RUN! It’s The Kid that showcases some of what I’d consider the best material I’ve written so far,” he says, “For any musician I feel it is essential to wait until they learn to adequately express themselves – and then make that the only criteria in performing and releasing music.