“Every song put me right back in OneBeat, and reminds us how different we were, but at the same time how easily we blended together musically. You can’t believe that it was [made by] a group of people in one month together, or a couple of hours even, for some of these songs.”
OneBeat 2016 Fellow and composer Rosie Tucker (Los Angeles) interviews vocalist and guitarist Tritha Sinha (New Delhi) about her song “L’Amour” from the OneBeat 2016 Mixtape.
Rosie: How did L’Amour come about? What was the process like?
Tritha: I thought of L’Amour when i wanted to write a song in French, because I was visiting France a lot, and my bandmates are French. I was obviously singing in my Indian languages and a bit in English with them, but French was becoming like a third language, and I thought, “okay, what can I write?” You know, love is so visible when you’re in France — you go to places like Paris, and there are couples always kissing, very different to my surroundings in India — so I thought, okay, if I write a French song, it should be about this.
After I wrote it, I remember I went to sing it with my band, and it just didn’t work out. At OneBeat, I was sitting with Amy [Garapic] — we were doing a musical exercise in duos and trios — so as Amy and I were sitting next to each other, I said to her, “jam?” and she said, “okay.” We went to the auditorium where she had her drumset, and I said, “I have this song I’ve always wanted to do in a sort of electric way, but it has never seen the light of day. Would you like to try it out with me?” So we just tried it. The song was one chord, and then a second part where it jumps into this very psychedelic space out of my loops. After the first time we played it, we were already really happy. She was playing a different kind of beat, very irregular, and it really worked for me. And it was working for the song, being about love, but not only in the happy rosy way of love.
Rosie: Yes, a very eerie love…
Tritha: … a very dark and deep and deathly love, which happens sometimes: Love has its death and its birth, you know. So I thought it was really working. We played it a couple of times and had a song. I was happy that the song emerged and evolved again. The next day, we were told we could add other people to our duos if we wanted. I thought of Denis [Kudryavcev]’s playing from his presentation — such a crazy guitarist, and somehow it really matched the song. I asked him to join us, and the three of us played together. I remember it was immediately great. Because he is such a good guitarist, I wasn’t sure if I needed to play at all or not. At the end of the day we needed a bassist, so I created a bassline with the electric guitar. A very simple straight line but I think it was important for the song. But what has happened to the song now, what I hear on the mixtape, is really amazing. I believe [recording engineer] Chris Botta has really added his own touch, you know? I feel the addition of an electronic loop of sorts…
R: The way that you’re talking about the song reminds me of all the different ways collaboration can happen: instrumental, songwriting, production.
Tritha: Totally. For me I think it was a perfect example of how smooth a collaboration can be at OneBeat in a very limited time. It was quite ambitious. This kind of song could have actually taken a long time to make, with all of our different backgrounds — and I put Indian classical elements in it through my voice, and played the kazoo, which is a great drone. I played the kazoo like an Indian shehnai, which is like an Indian saxophone that is often associated with something very tragic or melancholy. Either that, or it plays when two people bond with each other in marriages. So I thought the presence of it in a song like L’Amour made sense, and I’m so happy with the way it ended up sounding.
I remember when we were playing it, we were so happy playing it together, and we decided to call ourselves the TAD band (Tritha, Amy, Denis). We went far with this one song I think. Somehow for me, apart from [my song] Fish Market, which suddenly burst out into existence, this song that we created is very important for me. This was my OneBeat song. And before coming to OneBeat, I almost lost this song because I could not play the notes somehow & because I wanted this bigger sound. It’s almost like it just peeked out and said “maybe in America…” with this American drummer and this guitarist from Belarus.
R: The new mix has almost a sound art thing going on near the end, all the sounds collapsing in. It’s fitting for the themes you were talking about, the chaos of love and tragedy.
T: That for me is a reflection of what the world is today, in the sense that there is beauty, there is chaos, and there is a lot of psychedelia, delirium. It reminds me of the book Love in the Time of Cholera or something. Love in the chaotic time that we are living in. In Hindu mythology we have something called the Kali Yuga, as if an epoch is divided into many thousands of years as a period. So you have a period of honesty, and you have the period of creation, and you have many periods like this. And now is supposed to be the period of Kali Yuga, the period of destruction. For me, just living in this world (not that I’m extremely religious), sometimes the fact that these stories have existed for so many centuries makes me wonder if there is some truth in it. We are so small and insignificant that sometimes when a book is talking about thousands of years together, you almost think, where will I go, and not believe it… it’s like when you stand in front of the sea. It’s so insignificant.
Also, the fact that I could sing in French and English and do my Indian style, this song is really an amalgamation of who I am today. It was nice that we could listen to each other and respect each of our cultural backgrounds somehow. I think the song is great and I’m so happy that it’s on this mixtape.
R: It’s such a great mixtape. I feel like I get to relive everything that happened in this month.
Tritha: The track Listen — I think that’s a great song, another favorite of mine there. Every song put me back in OneBeat, and also reminds us how different we were, but at the same time how easily we blended together musically. You can’t believe that it was [made by] just a group of people in one month together, or a couple of hours even, for some of these songs. I’m very proud of this mixtape, very happy and honored that L’Amour is on it.
R: What’s next for you? What are you excited about working on, and has OneBeat informed your current work?
T: I’ve always been a performer, I’ve always been a bandleader, juggling between many projects. I think what OneBeat did for me was to reiterate all that I was already thinking and dreaming, what I thought I was alone in thinking about every day — like, okay, am I mad to even think that I can be an independent artist and do my own things? And then I met so many similar souls from across the world, and that made me feel more sure of what I’m doing. The second thing is it also made me feel the art and the beauty of collaboration, and how simple and easy it can be if we listen to each other. I feel that happened in OneBeat in different ways. I just believe more and more in collaboration, so when I returned home, that has been happening a lot with me.
Every OneBeat fellow has been so inspiring to me, I’m sure their work has influenced me in my own way. I came back with a fresh energy, and now I’m waiting for two albums to come out for two projects. One is my Indian psychedelic rock band, Tritha Electric, and the other is Tritha and Martin, a sound healing project. It’s a French musician who plays a hand drum and kora, and we made this album together last summer in Switzerland. I organized a tour, and we went to some places where people were obviously touched and healed by our music. For me, music takes on two roles: one for provoking senses into people, and the other for healing.