How a Trip to Sweden and a Childhood Friend Helped Create Dhruv Visvanath’s New Song
The New Delhi artist’s wondrous track ‘Dear Madeline’ is the first of more self-produced material releasing this year
At the outset of 10 years as a musician, Dhruv Visvanath has a few major learnings in the last two years alone. Following the release of his second album The Lost Cause, the New Delhi acoustic artist has donned the producer hat in a more serious sense and the first glimpse of that arrives with his new single “Dear Madeline.”
Visvanath mentions a lot about self-producing and keeping everything in-house “to keep evolving” and how it will be the first of more material written since 2018. But then, in his own jovial way, he adds, “I feel like my ears are sort of developing and growing in different ways, you know, not just not just growing more hair.”
The latest from Visvanath picks up just where The Lost Cause left off – offering his distinctively breathy voice, plus the unmissable percussive guitar parts and a story that’s open to interpretation. For the sake of clarity, however, “Dear Madeline” does take its name from a childhood friend of the artist from Mumbai. He thought of the name first (“I like it because it was just such a rhythmical name and it sounded nice,” Visvanath says) and then recounted that he did in fact have a friend named Madeline. “It brought up these old memories while I was writing the song,” he adds.
After around 26 years, the friends were back in touch again, as Visvanath shared the song with her and the artist says the response “was very positive.” In what is perhaps a hallmark of Visvanath’s writing, the lyrics aren’t too specific and leave room for interpretation. One thing’s for sure, the character he addresses in the song and his real life childhood friend are not one and the same. “I don’t want to say that the song was written for her. It was written for people like her in my life. I fondly remember that time. Of course, I can never seem to escape writing about my father as well, so this song also has a bit of that. That being said, this is just about enjoying connection,” Visvanath says.
The self-production route that Visvanath is taking, however, started with his connection to Sweden, when he attended the on-ground version of the usually virtually conducted Blackbelt Songwriting Camp. “I’ve always struggled with working with people in general. I am a notoriously bad collaborator,” the artist says. Over the course of just a week in late 2019 in Sweden – visiting Stockholm and Orebro – Visvanath says he got to visit a country for the “specific purpose of writing song” for the first time ever. “I think it played a larger role as to what I’m trying to do today, with what I’m working on, in terms of producing and making music on my own. I think the Sweden thing actually really taught me how to work at a distance.”
And although the return flight was a logistical nightmare that left Visvanath sleepless, he says it allowed him to expand his network and understand songwriters and composers from different parts of the world. He’s now moved from film score production to doing more with artists as a producer and co-producer. He says, “I like making something even if it’s not for me right now, I don’t mind doing it somebody else as well. My writing and all that hasn’t stopped either.”
With his own material, Visvanath is going song by song instead of plotting out an album that’s concept or story driven like The Lost Cause was. He has enough material to release a song a month, for almost two years. He adds, “I’ve learned that every song can have its own identity, can live in its own sort of world.”