Mahesh Raghunandan Readies New EP ‘Accept’
The Bengaluru singer-songwriter turns angst and introspection into a diverse sonic mix on his first official studio release
At a club gig in Bengaluru, Mahesh Raghunandan’s soulful singer-songwriter tunes are going along swimmingly with the crowd, but then the inevitable happens. As soon as Raghunandan mentions being part of alternative act Blushing Satellite, someone from near the bar shouts, “Play some rock music bro!” Not entirely sure if it’s a heckler or just someone who wants him to cut the banter, the perturbed musician shoots back, “Yeah, don’t worry, we’ll play some music.”
A couple of weeks later, we meet the singer-songwriter just a few days before his 26th birthday (he says he prefers to keep it low-key) and he talks about how he’s greedy when it comes to music. “These days, I block myself off and just have fun. I make music for myself. The audience are never in the picture when I write them. It’s just my need to express at that moment,” he says. That explains why his upcoming EP is called Accept. For a singer-songwriter who graduated, got a job as a dot net developer and quit it to become a full-time musician, it seems like Raghunandan’s life involved a lot of moments of acceptance. His transformation from solo artist to high-energy rock artist with his band Mahesh & the Mix was laudable, but by 2015, the band had creative differences and decided to call it quits. “Just when Mahesh & the Mix was out of the picture, Blushing Satellite came in and Rama [Chandramouli, guitarist] got in touch with me.”
How did a tormented troubadour find his place in a band whose main aim is to make spiritualist music for healing? Raghunandan says both styles of music find a way to complement each other. He adds, “I sort of intuitively found my place. Every single day, I feel like I’m becoming a better musician.” With Ramanan on guitars as part of Raghunandan’s performances, there’s a sort of language that the guitarist speaks through notes that matches the singer’s emotion, going into improv mode on songs like “Your Mind” and “Drowning.” Ramanan and Blushing Satellite producer Leslie Charles (and even drummer Prabhu Muraleedharan) all found a place on the five-track Accept, which will release in July.
With guitars, bass, drums and more production-oriented songwriting, Raghunandan’s debut EP (considering Veins, released in 2017, was just a collection of previously released singles) is understandably colorful, trippy and a fresh change from the acoustic guitar-and-voice combo. He’s happily singing about the problems of the world (“Your Mind”), gently surrendering (“Drowning”) and powerfully crooning about love (“Come Find Me,” the single which releases in May). Accept has spurred him on to do as many collaborations as possible while the EP is readied, music videos and all. He’s particularly excited about how “Let Me Stay,” the subtly shoegazing song (one of his oldest compositions) came to life in the studio. He explains, “It’s just a one-take recording of the guitars and vocals. Nothing was decided in pre-production for that track, because the song is about staying in the moment.”
It’s probably as close as he can get to transmit the message loud and soulfully clear. “I want to leave the audience with the message, ‘I’ve come here now.’ To take in the moment and just stay with it.”
Watch Mahesh’s new music video for “Come Find Me.” Sign up for Mahesh’s mailing list here.