The telephone line crackles with static, making it impossible to speak. Singer-songwriter Nishtha Sachdeva steps into the sunshine of her Delhi courtyard and calls back; her ‘hello’ sails through the ether, holding within it the fortunes of a global voice in the making.
Sachdeva, whose range covers the dulcet notes of pop and the gravelly rhythms of rock with equal flair, waited for nearly a decade before compiling seven of her best songs for her first album, Minor Epiphany, which released last month. The video of one of the songs, ‘By Your Side’, has made it to Vh1 India’s India Rules category, and has been featured on radio stations across the country.
But it is the cover version of the Jackson hit ‘Human Nature’, featured in the album at the insistence of renowned producer Saibal Basu, who also recorded and mixed it, that is close to her heart. “When I was a student at the Los Angeles Music Academy, I was fortunate to be tutored by vocal coach Dorian Holley, who began his professional career as a backing vocalist for Michael Jackson. I was obsessed with Jackson, his music, his genius. I was lucky that someone who had worked so closely with him was teaching me how to approach good music.”
The 27-year-old, who did her schooling at Delhi’s Convent of Jesus and Mary and DPS Vasant Kunj, says, “I come from a family that loves music, but knew little about Western genres. So, as a child, I was packed off to train in Hindustani. Later, when I performed under the well-known George Pulinkala, who tutored me for musicals and Christmas concerts, it was as if I had found my niche. in Western music.”
This departure from hardcore academics to heed a calling in music didn’t go down too well, and although Nishtha taught herself to play the guitar, her lack of a formal grounding in theoretical music led her to rethink an education at the Berklee College of Music, Boston. She returned to India, to pursue a degree at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai, but instead spent her time performing at college festivals and sweaty club gigs.
And even in those years, far removed from what she actually wanted to do, it was the King of Pop who came to her rescue. She often sang his songs, especially ‘Man in the Mirror’, a track, Sachdeva says, “I love not just for the lyrics, but for its message of change. My years in Mumbai taught me that music was my one true love”. The Jackson years were sealed with influences from other greats such as British rock band Queen, The Doors, Coldplay and jazz supremos like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington, and Nishtha went on to write her first song, ‘Here Right Now’.
Over the years, she dived headlong into pop music, crafting a confessional album. “Every one of the songs in Minor Epiphany speaks of some moment of realisation in my life. But it all came together one monsoon evening, when I chanced upon a stray puppy. I brought her home and my album essentially is a love song for the unadulterated emotions that Ninja and I feel for each other.”
‘By Your Side’, shot in the verdant ghats around Mumbai, swings between sadness and hope, with a ring of irresistible haziness.
Sachdeva’s voice is the kind that grows on you as you listen. Soft at first, it billows into a voice so vast and deep that it is as if you hear her soul speak. She wears heartache on her sleeve, but her lyrics also dwell on an unbearable lightness of being: so much like the man and his music she loves.
[Source:- The Hindu]