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Exclusive Premiere: Kapil Seshasayee’s Synth-Heavy New Single ‘The Gharial’

The Scotland-based Indian artist carries forward pointed critiques of Bollywood and Indian pop culture on his upcoming album ‘Laal’

Anurag Tagat May 21, 2020

Producer and songwriter Kapil Seshasayee. Photo: Sean Patrick Campbell

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When experimental artist Kapil Seshasayee released his previous single “The Item Girl” in October last year, it was the beginning of new material through which the Scotland-based Indian guitarist-producer would take aim at India’s behemoth film industry. Particularly unfettered in his critique, Seshasayee is now plotting a full album called Laal around it and the second song “The Gharial” takes influence from Bollywood period flick Tanhaji, which released earlier this year.

Seshasayee says that movies like Tanhaji stir the communal pot, particularly a scene where an antagonist is seen eating a crocodile, which is considered sacred in Indian mythology. Seshasayee also points to a general trend of period Bollywood films such as Padmavaat intentionally creating narratives that can divide communities. If anything, the artist says Bollywood only aims to profit off such contentious depictions. He adds, “Outrage sells, but is it really responsible to feed divisive messages into Indian communities both in India and in the diaspora that are already so divided along caste and religious lines by recent issues like COVID-19 and [citizenship legislations] CAA/NRC?”

“The Gharial” brings out the producer in Seshasayee more than an experimental guitarist, even though he points to influences such as jazz artist Don Ellis, R&B artist Frank Ocean and the time he’s put in working with Edinburgh-based producer Edwin Stewart Mclachlan. The song swerves into seemingly 8-bit or granular electronics but also airy synth portions, choppy beats and occasionally unpredictable guitar twinges.

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The lyric video also allowed Seshasayee to showcase his longstanding interest in typography. Although he’s been creating his own posters back when he was a music promoter in Scotland, when he began working on his own music and released his debut album A Sacred Bore in 2018, he created typographical prints for each song. Teaming up with Scottish designer Mitchell F. Gillies, the video for “The Gharial” has “clues to themes behind the song,” with the overall aesthetic standing stark yet futuristic, Seshasayee aiming to “mirror the eerie works of [artist] H.R. Giger.”

During the global lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Seshasayee has been collaborating more across genres. As for Laal, he adds, “Every song from the album tells a story about what’s not immediately visible in Bollywood. I want those stories to illuminate things that people aren’t thinking about and empower those who live these stories.” The next single off Laal will be “The Pink Mirror,” which releases on June 5th.

Watch the lyric video for “The Gharial” below. 

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