After spending the last few months unveiling a warm and vibrant array of laid-back delights, Indian singer and songwriter Sahana Naresh has now returned to deliver her uplifting new EP 'Shore Out Of Reach'.
Featuring the previously shared singles 'The Only Constant Is Change' and 'Milky Hands', 'Shore Out Of Reach' makes for a wonderfully bright and euphoric listen. Channelling a sweet and sun-kissed aesthetic from start to finish, these songs are guaranteed to slap a smile on your face.
So with the new EP out now, we joined her in a quick chat to find out more about her background and what has inspired her most over the years.
What were the first instruments you fell in love with?
The first instrument I loved the sound of was the Veena (a south Indian instrument, typically 5 foot long, with 24 metal frets and made from jack wood), thanks to my dad who plays every day even to this day. I also fell in love with the guitar when I was a teenager, when my uncle came to live with us for a few months. My sister, uncle and I would sing Beatles songs together every evening. And since then, the guitar became a big part of my life. Between us, I think we have 15 veenas and guitars at home!
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
Oh this is so hard to answer, since there have been so many musicians who have inspired my journey. Growing up in a family of musicians (my dad, my uncles who were behind the pioneering 70s Indian Rock Band “Human Bondage” and my cousin Keshavara a musician and producer), music was all around me, inspiring me all the time. If I had to pick a few, I would say Norah Jones for her elegant and soulful music, The Beatles for their timeless melodies and intricate harmony, The Strokes for the fullness of their sound, layering and Julian’s special vocal range!
My Hindustani guru (Vidushi Aditi Upadhya) whom I continue to learn from in Indian Classical Music is another big influence musically and creatively. I have learned to be disciplined about honing my craft, being thoughtful about my music and paying attention to all the details thanks to my wonderful teacher.
I think my general love for dreamy, catchy, and robust melodies, layered with textured vocals and instrumental harmonies come from these lovely artists.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
I am honestly a little embarrassed to admit that I loved boy bands just like every other teenager (Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Boyzone) and fell in love with pop/rock icons like Madonna, Roxette and MJ growing up. My cousin introduced me to three musicians specifically when I was in my late teens – The Strokes, Phoenix and Franz Ferdinand and that changed my life! My tastes drastically changed after I heard these artists, and I am so grateful for this.
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
Really can’t say that I remember one in particular but there have been songs like “One Flight Down” by Norah Jones, “Secret Heart” by Feist that made me want to sing so badly! I could have been more confident about my songwriting abilities early on - I would start a song and abandon it halfway through since I felt it wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t until I watched an interview of John Mayer where he talks about how it’s important to first write the “bad” songs, it is only after you keep writing that your songs start to suck less eventually. I decided to take his advice seriously and this combined with some encouraging and tough love from my cousin/producer Keshavara and support from my family, I finally released my debut EP!
When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
In the morning I always feel like listening to classical piano – so we are playing Bach, Beethoven, Chopin or Mozart at home. It never fails to put me in a great mood!
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
Milky hands my debut single is about my daughter, Tara whose love brought me back to song-writing after almost a decade!
Stuck in Quarantine was a song that captured the feelings of all my close friends and family about COVID and the lockdown – and we did the music video featuring all of them.
There are other songs in the pipe where I am writing about the people in my life, but I am always looking for creative ways to make it less obvious about who I am writing about since it’s not always pleasant!
What have been the most memorable moments in your career so far?
It is definitely my song “Milky Hands” being featured on a mom blog called “The Champa Tree” in India. The moms of “The Champa Tree” community were so touched by the song, that they made a reel with photos/videos of their kids with Milky Hands playing. One mom even told me that she could smell her new-born when she heard my song. To me as a musician, it was a great compliment, and I was thrilled to be able to evoke such an emotion in my listeners.
Outside of music, what is your biggest passion?
Right now, watching my daughter grow up! She has brought so much joy and her leaps in understanding and communicating are just breath-taking to watch. I look forward to every moment we spend together, and she surprises me with her kindness so many times every day!
I love food, not cooking but specifically eating it. Good food puts me in a great mood, and I savour every moment . I am also crazy about interior design. I enjoy upcycling furniture and like to geek out on YouTube home makeover videos and Pinterest.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
In my past life, I studied psychology and organizational behaviour. I really enjoyed designing and running corporate training programs for employees and managers.
Of late I am convinced that if I wasn’t a musician, I would have been an interior designer. I love everything about design and if only I had unlimited time, I would like to be a mom, musician, and interior designer.
And what advice would you give to other musicians looking to start a career in music?
I applaud your optimism and courage! Jokes apart, I would like to be honest and paint a picture that a career in music is not all roses. While it is wonderful to be able to make music, I would suggest that you first experiment and see if this is something you enjoy doing daily/professionally. There are lots of practical things to consider like how you are going to support yourself and pay bills since the music industry is particularly tough to break into and apart from an expectation that you must be talented, it’s important to “know” the right people.
Sahana Naresh's new EP 'Shore Out Of Reach' is available to stream now. Have a listen to it via the player below.