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Exclusive Stream: Multi-Instrumentalist Shreyas Iyengar’s Vulnerable Jazz Single ‘Never Leaving Home Again’

The song features flautist Siya Ragade (part of alternative group Easy Wanderlings) and is from the upcoming album ‘Tough Times’

Anurag Tagat Dec 09, 2020

Pune-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Shreyas Iyengar. Photo: Himanshi Parmar/Courtesy of #oafPress

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Although there’s no pun intended, Shreyas Iyengar uses the word “breakthrough” to talk about the time he was recovering from a torn ligament in August 2019. It’s what led the Pune-based artist to properly become a saxophone player. “The reconstruction surgery and recovery process meant I couldn’t walk for a month and certainly couldn’t return to the drum set (or any work) for at least three. This allowed me to practice the saxophone for up to six hours a day, and feel sorry for myself the other 18 [hours],” he says. 

The sax was more of a recent instrument that Iyengar got a hang of, in addition to being a drummer, pianist/keyboardist and guitarist over the last 15 years. Working with artists such as Kailash Kher and actor-singer Luke Kenny, Iyengar also sat behind the drum kit for American guitarist Xander Naylor on tour earlier this year with guitarist Vinay Kaushal. Iyengar and Kaushal are also part of funk trio Funkatrix. When it came to composing and making music for himself, however, Iyengar played to his strength as a multi-instrumentalist. “The biggest reason behind picking up multiple instruments is that I dislike being dependent on anyone else […] Being the composer of the music and a multi-instrumentalist actually simplifies my approach to any track significantly.” he says. 

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His debut solo song “Never Leaving Home Again,” however, sees Iyengar team up with flautist Siya Ragade (from alternative group Easy Wanderlings) and Jayant Sankrityayana on upright bass and classical guitar for a finessed, introspective genre-fluid journey. He says about the making of the track, “I knew right away that the melody was what was conveying the emotional content and it needed to be raw, honest and under the spotlight.” 

A striking listen that infuses jazz with modern composing and production, with electronic elements, “Never Leaving Home” is part of Iyengar’s upcoming debut full-length album Tough Times, slated to release by February 2021. A thoroughly modern jazz eight-track album, the artist will bring in his observations on how the coronavirus pandemic exposed a “dichotomy within humanity” when those less fortunate suffered the most and the more privileged were only “adjacent” to major hardships. “Tough Times is basically my way of documenting this time from the point of view of an (largely unaffected but still emotionally tuned in) observer and realizing that tough times don’t last, but they do keep coming back.” 

Simultaneously, Iyengar is putting together a band for a possible tour, writing new solo material and helming the score for a documentary on conflict in Kashmir. The artist is also continuing to expand the number of instruments he can walk into a room and pick up. “I’m planning to purchase a cello if I can save some money, and start teaching myself,” he says.

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Listen to “Never Leaving Home Again” below. The song is out on all platforms on December 10th.

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