DELVING DEEP INTO THE PAHARI ROOTS: THE PAHARI PROJECT
It was more than a month ago. I was just doing my usual things, browsing internet and writing and listening to this amazing song called “Dhattu” by Lalit Singh. The song was about a boy living far away from his home, reminiscing his good days at home, holding on to the scarf of his mother (Dhattu is the Himachali word for a scarf) and I said to myself “You know what? I like this song” and since then the infectious song is getting bigger and better day by day. I came to know Lalit from a friend of mine who by the way is also a singer/producer just like Lalit. “Scandal Point”, was the first song I ever heard of Lalit’s and he has come a long way since. Back then he was known as “Swan Blaze” and he had the pipes!! His voice was dreamy, his music was decent and he was taking every step in the right direction.
Then out of nowhere “The Pahari Project” happened and the song “Dhattu” created a frenzy in Facebook. Positive feedbacks poured in from all over the nation and his song became bigger and better and started garnering praises from the Medias and the people of the “Pahars”. Lalit delved deep into his roots as a “Pahari” and we know that the song is a success because it has resonated with people from all over the country who have ever lived far away from their homes and holding on to the memories of their mother.
This is Lalit Singh, the producer of The Pahari Project in an exclusive and intimate interview with Cisum’s, Palzor Machungpa (also a Pahari).
Palzor: So, how did “The Pahari Project” happen? Tell us your main motive behind reinventing your sound and production as a whole.
Lalit: Well, this is a point of my life when I am realising the value of my home and my town. So I wanted to express my love for my family and my hometown and the best way to do it was through music. This was my first reason to start a project like this. And after that I had a thought that if I’m doing it then I should do it in a way that has never happened before. I was born and raised in Himachal Pradesh so the culture and ambience of that place is in my soul. On the other hand I was always attracted towards western music. So I thought I should try to reinvent the music scene in Himachal. A way by which I could produce the music I liked without having to compromise the love of my traditional music. So, I started making music which had influences from both western and Pahari music. So yeah, that was when I decided to fuse Pahari culture with modern music. And the result was “THE PAHARI PROJECT”
Palzor: Now that we are on the topic of reinvention I need to ask you one thing. You have always been “Swan Blaze” more than “Lalit Singh” if you know what I mean. “Scandal Point”, “I see you baby” are all Swan Blaze kind of songs but “Dhattu” brings the Pahari in you in full display. What made you go back to your roots to find your sound?
Lalit: As I said in the song “I was never gone, I am just moving on”. So yea, I was never away from my roots, they were always there with me. But the thing is that I was just a kid and a young kid one you know…. So, I just wanted to be cool and look cool so I decided to call myself Swan Blaze, downloaded beats from internet and sang on them. That’s it! That was “Swan Blaze” Arghh that name though, I still don’t know how I picked it. On the other hand as I grew up, I started exploring music, different genres, and different cultures. I started producing music and that’s when I decided to produce music for myself too. At that point I knew that Swan Blaze was not the one I wanted to be anymore. So yeah, music has always helped me to grow more and to be the kind of person that I am today.
Palzor: “Dhattu” is a song about being away from home and reminiscing your birthplace and the smell of your hometown’s air. Would you agree that you had to explore the vulnerability of a boy away from his home for this song? And if “yes” how did you do this?
Lalit: Yes! I agree with you. I did it because that vulnerable boy is me. As you know this song is dedicated to my mom and my motherland. I’m away from my home from since the past 2 years. So it’s just my story and my experience away from home.
Palzor: The teaser of the music video for “Dhattu” is out and it looks great. How did you get to associate with RCH for the music video?
Lalit: Thank you, we really worked hard for the video. We shot for 2 weeks in many different locations. Even I’m looking for the end result. And RCH is a production house based in Chandigarh. One day I got a call from Deepak Roach (The videographer in RCH) who is also the director of the video and he said “I heard your song yesterday and I am continuously listening to it and I think making a music video for it will be great”. Then he told me that he was also from Himachal Pradesh and that the song really touched his heart. We instantly connected and we decided to collaborate on this song. I instantly went to Chandigarh the next day and now the video is about to release. It’s insane how time flies so fast.
Palzor: Now that you have set the bar high for yourself by making a song as relatable and awesome as “Dhattu”, how do you plan to follow the footsteps of “Dhattu” and give us more awesome songs like this?
Lalit: I don’t know about awesome but I’ll surely try my best to give something new to my Pahari people.
Palzor: Can you give us more details about what comes next after “Dhattu”? What else do you have in the store for us?
Lalit: Currently I have two songs lined up after this.
– Taantra (which is about the devotion of Lord Shiva. This track will take you in a trance and will make you feel the power of Shiv. )
– Manali (Manali is actually a beautiful place in Himachal, and the song is about… let’s leave it there)
Palzor: What inspires you as a songwriter? And as a music producer how do you plan to keep the listeners hooked to your songs?
Lalit: Alright, so the plan is pretty simple. Be unique, think out of the box and be true to your music. I’m fond of poetry. I take inspiration from artists like Mirza Ghalib. I love the way how he says so many things and still speaks nothing. I don’t like spoon feeding my audience. I want them to ask questions to themselves, to think because at the end of the day the meaning is totally based on your perspective. Same thing goes with the music. I try to add soul in every song. You know the genres, the emotions can be different but soul is what that puts a life in every work whether it is art or music or poetry.
QUICK FIVE QUESTIONS:
Q) A song that describes you.
A) I still don’t know much about myself. I am exploring. I’ll tell you as soon as I know.
Q) Singing or producing music?
Q) A song that is stuck in your head these days?
A) Kajar Bin Kare (Ustaad Sultan Khan, Salim Merchant)
Q) Pick one holiday destination (inside India).
A) Himachal, Himachal, Himachal…
Q) If you had to go back in time and give a 15 year old Lalit an advice, what would you advise him?
A) Don’t change a thing!