Interview: Sohrab Nicholson Talks Indie Electronica


I’d heard a lot about Sohrab Nicholson and his mesmerizing music and had even been enraptured after hearing it myself, only to become a fan. After watching him live at the GearHouse Harman Live Arena a few months ago, I’ve been hooked. Nicholson’s live shows are akin to productions at international music festivals like Glastonbury. His quest for perfection can be seen in the manner in which he hits the right notes while singing as his band mates accompany him, quite flawlessly. Nicholson had a quiet but impactful debut at the NCPA in May 2014 - a gig which created waves in the indie music circuit with Nicholson's ambient, electronica tunes coupled with his mesmerizing voice. Nicholson's band comprising him on vocals and keyboards, Rohan Ramanna on drums and the Dirty Jays (Stuart D'coasta and Jehangir Jehangir) on synths and samples has ever since received notable media and public attention. Having studied jazz piano at Canada for four years, Nicholson is now based in Mumbai and has played in almost all the big venues across the country. In a quick chat, Sohrab discusses his music, future plans and more. Nicholson-1 copyYour sound falls somewhere between down tempo /electronica / ambient music - but how would you describe it? I find it hard to describe. It's sort of free of genre. Different people describe it different ways. I think we're better at making it than describing it (laughs). If I had to define it I guess I would call it organic-electronic music? While the overall aesthetic is electronic, we use a lot of real instruments and vocals, which add a certain organic live element. You've been performing in quite a few cities off late - what differences in audience have you observed? How are people responding to your music? So far so good! Audiences do differ from place to place, but over all, it's been a positive experience for us. Initially, I did have reservations about whether or not people would respond positively to the kind of music we were making, but it seems people have been very open and receptive so far. How do you work with your team to put a great live gig together? Well, the truth is, everyone brings something entirely original to the table. My songs aren't my songs without the better half of the project, Rohan Ramanna, who in my opinion is the best independent producer in the country right now. I can't think of anyone better to work with on that front, so I feel very blessed. Then come the Dirty jays, who come on board for larger live shows… they bring something totally fresh and special to the table… and then there's Div, who I like to call our sound saviour. He totally understands our aesthetic as a collective and helps translate that live. Lights and visuals are usually venue dependent. We recently had the opportunity to work with Sourya Sen aka Oblique for the visual set we performed at Blue Frog last month. There's a lot of amazing talent right now. The idea is to collaborate with people who share similar taste and see where it goes. Songwriting is an important element of your music - how do you work on it and how does it all come together when you work with the band? Yes, even though my music is electronic music... it’s not dance music. The foundation is rooted in songwriting. The process differs from song to song, and has also changed quite dramatically since we started a year and a half ago. Rohan and I will be taking a slightly different approach than we did last year for the album that we're working on. It's difficult to break down the process in entirety because a lot of it happens organically between us. Sometimes things will start with a groove or an idea that Rohan puts down, other times, I'll have a song pretty much in entirety and he will then cultivate it and re-arrange it… and then stuff changes when the Dirty Jays are on board, because they take what’s already there and add their flavour to the mix. That’s why I prefer to call us a collective than a band. Everyone brings something unique to the table. What else is in the pipeline? A couple of very exciting new collabs are in the pipelines and a full length album that should be out in the first quarter of next year if all goes as planned. With his debut EP 'For What' having been a hit with his fans, we bet that his full length album will be a treat in itself. Until then, catch him and his band at the next gig in town!

Divya Naik

Divya Naik
A journalist and social media manager by profession, Divya has been in the media industry for five years and has contributed to a number of publications. Having worked closely as a media consultant for brands she has been rooted in the arts and culture scene of Mumbai and is a supporter of all things BYOB.