Kanishk Seth: when Sufism meets electronic music.

An indie electronic artist as he likes to call himself, Kanishk Seth has been writing, composing, and singing since the age of 14, combining Indian classical music with electronic elements to form this genre of fusion. He is someone who wants to explore everything that music can offer him, often amalgamating ghazals, Sufi verses, Urdu poetry, etc. with electronic music, rather than limit himself to a particular genre as he feels most ar8sts do before starting out.

Subconsciously, he was drawn to ghazals and Sufism because of his mother’s ar8stry. Kanishk wants to delve more into the lighter, simpler side of Hindustani classical music, where melodies are simpler, and there is more emphasis on poetry and emotion, rather than showcasing an artist’s vocal range.

Kanishk’s first album, Trance with Khusrow came to life when his mother heard one of his samples and sang Amir Khusrow’s qawwali, Aaj Rang Hai against it. Watching his mother sing in a trance for almost 10 minutes in the first take left a lasting impression on him.

He composed 10 tracks for the album over a period of 4 years and considers it to be formative of his artistry. The final album boasted 10 tracks that featured Amir Khusrow’s Sufi poetry fused together with elements of trance, EDM, and lounge music. The album got nominated at the Mirchi Music Awards and Global Indian Music Academy Awards in 2015 and while he did not win, he was overwhelmed at being nominated alongside established artists such as A.R. Rahman and Indian Ocean.

He grew up listening to a diverse range of artists from around the world, like the MIDIval Punditz, Karsh Kale, and Armin Van Buuren to name a few. Kanishk credits his parents for inculcating an appreciation for music early on – he would often wake up to his mother’s singing voice every morning.

He trained in Hindustani and Western classical music on the violin as a child. He then shifted his focus to learning the piano in his early teens, mostly because of its musical versatility and the advantage it gave in learning about music theory.

His father also encouraged him to start learning the practical, engineering side of music, i.e., how to operate in a studio, the technical knowhow of sound recording, mixing and mastering, all while he was still in school.

While Kanishk never had any interest in science as such, he paid particular attention to this part of music so that he could make a recording setup at home for his mother to use, thereby saving the cost of renting a studio space for the same. Kanishk calls himself the ‘home sound engineer’, and started composing and producing music on his own as well. He habitually would make minute long samples, compiling a bank and making his mother listen to them.

Kanishk also made an experimental short film named Bombai with his friend Yashwardhan Goswami during his college time, with the local trains of Mumbai as the main character. The film got the Special Jury Mention in the Mumbai Dimensions segment of the Mumbai Jio MAMI Film Festival, 2016 and was even nominated for the Filmfare Short Film Awards, 2017.

Rangi Saari, his latest collaboration with his mother, was released a few days into the nationwide lockdown due to the Covid 19 global pandemic. The song which is based off a traditional thumri, sounds like a breath of fresh air, with soothing vocals against an upbeat yet refreshing track. The video features a kaleidoscope of colours, with hand painted anima8on showing the dance of two lovers.

Kanishk’s latest song, Thehra, is one of the most in8mate songs that he has written and is about experiencing life in pause and longing for the person you love. He composed the song using the visuals of his future music video in mind, and has incorporated a lot of SFX with graceful, melancholic vocals. The song took birth in a restless, uncertain phase of life for Kanishk during the lockdown period, when his frustration caused him to sit down and create this song from dusk to dawn one particular day. Unfortunately, while the isolation has given him much needed 8me to work in his studio, he still resonates with the same sentiments that inspired the song and has also been unable to shoot the music video he wants to.

Kanishk continues to work from his home studio while also trying to make the most of life indoors, hoping to shoot his music videos once the lockdown lifts.

Music by Kanishk Seth.

Text by Nikita Saxena.

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