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Ditty Talks New Album, Sri Lanka and Saving the Environment

The singer-songwriter’s debut record ‘Poetry Ceylon’ is out now via indie label Pagal Haina

David Britto Jun 03, 2019

Goa-based singer-songwriter Ditty. Photo: Ronit Sarkar/Saloni Soni

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Growing up in New Delhi, singer-songwriter Aditi Veena aka Ditty tells us she had a “beautiful childhood.” She recalls, “My parents loved the outdoors, and my mum threw us into art and sports at a very young age. My dad and my little brother and I spent Sundays doing science experiments and going out for picnics.” The vocalist-guitarist, who came across music by chance in school, is now out with her debut eight-track album, Poetry Ceylon, an ode to the island of Sri Lanka via New Delhi indie label Pagal Haina.

Ditty has spent the last few years in Sri Lanka working as a conservation architect and mentions that her work had a profound impact on the way she lived her life and approached her art. “I was extremely inspired by the island, and it’s eclectic people. The album is an account of my time there that I spilled out of myself as I played my guitar every night in my bedroom.”

Ask Ditty how she juggles being an urban ecologist and also a musician and she says, “I love having several outlets to engage with, in life. I design natural buildings and gardens for people and take up a few projects at a time to be able to have enough time to do music.” The singer-songwriter also cites poets such as German-American Charles Bukowski (a truck driver) and T.S.Eliot (a banker) as artists who had a day job at some point. “Closer to home, folks at [New Delhi bands] Parikrama, Indian Ocean, Them Clones all had day jobs,” Ditty points out.

‘Poetry Ceylon’ artwork.

While living in New Delhi, Ditty explains that she became dissatisfied with the “quality of the air, water, the food we eat and the culture on the streets.” The singer-songwriter moved to Sri Lanka in 2014 in search of a better life where Poetry Ceylon took shape. Having already released two easy listening singles (“Garden” and “Deathcab”), Ditty says, “As I moved there, I thought I was away from everything, and I’d found my paradise, but slowly, realities started springing up.” She adds, “The sharks were being murdered profusely by the Chinese for their fins. The forests were being knocked down to build new cities. Wild species were going extinct here too, and I was groped on the streets several times.” It was these realities that brought out the rustic “Eulogy For A Sparrow.” The album also houses songs about nature (the melancholic “Girl On An Island”) and people Ditty met while in Sri Lanka (the pleasant “Food City” and relaxing “Under The Sun”).

Nature plays a big part on Poetry Ceylon with the sound of the waves, rustling of leaves and chirping of birds making it to the record. Ask Ditty about the importance of capturing these elements and she says, “We, as a civilization, continuously disconnect ourselves from reality, from the natural world and from the Earth. This is the cause for the extreme harm we are inflicting on the planet.” She adds, “We forget we are nature. I just wanted to capture where we live and what I was writing on. The album starts with the sounds of the ocean and finishes with the sounds in my garden.”

A majority of Poetry Ceylon was recorded at Ditty’s New Delhi bedroom and self-produced. The album was arranged by Dhruv Bhola (bassit of New Delhi gypsy/cabaret band Peter Cat Recording Co.), recorded by waltz outfit Run It’s The Kid’s vocalist-guitarist Shantanu Pandit, mixed by France-based Mathias Durand and mastered by François Lê Xuân. PCRC’s Kartik Pillai helped record drums while Nikhil Vasudevan from ska band The Ska Vengers played drums on the album. Ditty says, “It’s just the best people I could’ve asked for. My dear friends and incredible musicians.”

Now based in Goa, Ditty’s release date for Poetry Ceylon fits in closely with World Environment Day on June 5th, the day she has picked to host a listening party for the record. On the live front, the musician is also chalking out a tour to promote the album. Apart from music Ditty says, “I am working on planting several hundred acres of forest in the coming years. Please join me.”

Listen to ‘Poetry Ceylon’ below and stream the album on other platforms here.


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