An Interview with Swarathma


Swarathma are one of India’s top folk rock bands. The band comprises of songwriters Jishnu Dasgupta, Joel Milan Baptist, Pavan Kumar KJ, Sanjeeva Nayak Sooda, Varun Murali and Vasu Dixit. Their sound fuses together Indian folk with rock, reggae and blues; and they stand out from the crowd with their visually electric, high energy live act and their socially relevant, tongue in cheek lyric writing.

Anara Publishing caught up with Swarathma to ask them questions on their music career, the world of publishing, and what advice they have to offer to aspiring songwriters.

Tell us about how you started making music or what initially got you into music?
When we started playing music, it was all about young college guys wanting to spend an evening with like-minded people so they could exchange, learn, and make music! We never thought we’d become professional musicians. That’s how it all started, and it was mainly about having fun with each other.

What is your typical song writing process? Is it the same every time? Do you have any routines to get you in the creative frame of mind?
When it comes to writing a song, we don’t necessarily follow a process. There are a bunch of our songs where the creation started as a small idea, or by simply jamming together. We keep looping ideas, and everyone contributes and adds in their own idea on their instrument. Somehow with this process, we end up making new chord progressions and ideas that we feel very excited about! Once we find something that works for all of us, we take a break from the song and hand the track over the lyricist to start the next part of the process. The key thing is that we don’t have a set routine with music or ideas, it’s always organic and natural. You could say our process is to NOT have a process, let music flow freely. The song will eventually happen, don’t force it.

Can you describe a pivotal moment in your career?
There isn’t one moment, because there have thankfully been many! Varying from winning band contests, to collaborations, to performing on international tours. There have been so many moments which have navigated us to new territories and made us the band that we are today.

How important do you think publishing representation is for artists and composers?
For independent bands, especially in India, publishing is largely an unknown and unexplored subject. If it wasn’t for a conversation we had with a mentor, I still wouldn’t know what publishing was. It took us time to understand this sector within music, but this is all where our journey with Anara started! Publishing has especially come to our aid during the pandemic as it has helped us financially when other revenues of income dried up. If you’re an independent musician, you must educate yourself and find somebody who can represent your music and take it forward.

Who would you say has been the greatest influence on your music?
Everyone in the band has different influences. As a band, our influence list ranges from Pink Floyd, Muse, Billie Eilish, Mozart, U2, and everything in between!

You’re from India could you tell us what are the current musical trends in India? How do you think your music fits these trends?
As a band that has been around for over a decade, we have seen several trends come and go. When creating music, I don’t think we ever consider trends as we don’t feel the need to fit in. We are not friends of the trends!

Do you have a favourite use of music in TV or Film?
Yes! For example, ‘Requiem for a Dream’ is one of the films where music almost plays its own character. The music is as equal as the camera itself, if you remove the music from the film, it is like eating with no taste. Other favourite examples include Star Wars, Stranger Things and The Dark Knight. In these works, the music is subtle, but it makes such a difference to the overall experience

Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters/composers?
Just do it! Write songs and compose. The most important thing, after learning your craft, is to learn about the world of music and the business of music. Educate yourself, learn about the avenues that exist today and make the best use of them.