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Enjoy The Silence: Tajdar Junaid

Mumbai-based guitarist, vocalist and composer Tajdar Junaid on new material that is much more orchestral, cinematic and even more introspective

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Anurag Tagat Sep 29, 2015
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Tajdar Junaid at the Ziro Festival 2014 | Photo: Pranab Doley

Tajdar Junaid at the Ziro Festival 2014 | Photo: Pranab Doley

You might have heard of him from his delicate, meditative 2013 album What Colour Is Your Raindrop, with songs such as “Dastaan” and “Though I Know,” or his composition for Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader called “Kindle The Prayer.” For composer Tajdar Junaid, composing a jingle is as enriching as writing a song for his album or performing. The Kolkata-bred, now Mumbai-based musician says he’s in “a very satisfying space” when it comes to having an audience.

Rightly so ”“ Tajdar, along with fellow Kolkata musicians such as drummer Jivraj Singh and guitarist-vocalist Nischay Parekh and percussionist Dwaipayan Saha have been performing What Colour Is Your Raindrop and new material in Bengaluru and Kolkata to an impressive following. Says Tajdar, who has just returned from playing two shows in New Delhi, “It’s quite amazing. I’m surprised there’s a crowd for this. You need a lot of patience to listen to it.”

In a sentiment that echoes his Mumbai counterpart Warren Mendonsa aka Blackstratblues, Tajdar says he’s happy there are people who want “good, honest music.” The guitarist played two new songs ”“ “Devotion” and “Reflection” ”“ in Delhi. “Devotion” is a solo piece performed on the 10-string South American instrument charango and recorded last year at the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata. “Reflection,” however is a newer track that Tajdar says is orchestral, with plans to record with New York-based Orchestra of St. Luke’s, who have previously scored films such as Shutter Island. The track also includes drums by Singh, and Tajdar, who plays piano, adds that the track is sonically closer to “Dastaan.”

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While What Colour Is Your Raindrop included everything from the charango to violins and sarangi, Junaid is expanding his inventory to include shehnai, sitar and another South American stringed acquisition called the ronroco, an Argentinian mandolin that’s an octave lower than the charango, and adds bass. Tajdar says he’s only planning to use shehnai and sitar for texture, but can’t help adding more instruments to his sound, “I’m just like a child ”“ I’m looking for new things to play. I’m not thinking of what works or doesn’t work, but just what makes me happy.” He’s also going back to drummer Vishal Nayak, the drummer in his first rock band Cognac to have him record new material. Says Tajdar, “He recorded drums for ”˜Yadon Ki Pari’ in his kitchen in New York. But the sound he got in his kitchen is something I can’t get in any studio here.”

Although work on new material is going slow and steady, Junaid says there’s no planned deadline to complete an album. Says Tajdar, “I want to focus more on playing live.” In between upcoming film and theater score work and ad jingle compositions that he’s not at liberty to speak about yet, Tajdar is constantly reworking his live set, adding performers such as Singh and Parekh, who added electronic music elements to his songs at their Kolkata gig in July. Tajdar adds, “I like to have my friends put their stamp on my music, to understand where they’re coming from but also take them to a new zone.”

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Up next for Tajdar is returning to the club venue, The Humming Tree, in Bengaluru in September, while he’s also putting together a Mumbai lineup that includes Jehangir Jehangir on drums [from pop band Bay City Lights and formerly of jam band Something Relevant], bassist Nathan Thomas and his Kolkata violinist Bhaskar Dutta. He’s also not done with What Colour Is Your Raindrop, with a video for “Yadon Ki Pari” set to release this month, followed by another animated video for “Ekta Golpo,” by Mumbai’s creative studio Pigeon & Co. Says Tajdar about continuing to promote and play his previous album, “These are stories that I have, that I want to share and people want to listen to it, so it’s good to connect.”

This article appeared in the September 2015 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

Watch the video for “Yadon ki Pari”

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