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Guitarist Shezan Shaikh on Going From Metal to Movies as Producer-Composer

The Mumbai-based axeman for metallers Providence has composed the score for the Anurag Kashyap-produced sci-fi film ‘Cargo’

Anurag Tagat Oct 26, 2019

Providence guitarist and composer-producer Shezan Shaikh. Photo: Tushar Dhanawade

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At the recently held Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) Mumbai Film Festival, guitarist-composer and producer Shezan Shaikh nearly missed securing a spot at the screening of sci-fi film Cargo, whose soundtrack he scored. He beams, “Cargo premiered to a packed house on both days. I’m happy I got in, however, most of the cast and crew saw the film standing cause there was no place for any of us to sit. It was quite an experience to be honest.”

The guitarist of Mumbai metallers Providence has spent the last four years fully focused on building his career as a music composer for ads, films and even videogames. All of this at his Studio Providence. He says about embarking on the commercial music route, “I had zero apprehensions. I feel working on a commercial level has turned me into a much more open minded and multi-dimensional musician, as opposed to writing albums with a band. As a solo composer your roadblocks are yours to deal with. In a band you’ve got multiple heads working towards a common goal. That’s not the case here.”

Earlier this year, Shaikh was introduced to filmmaker Arati Kadav via his friend and sound designer Pranav Shukla to work on the score for Cargo. “Arati went through my SoundCloud and that’s that,” Shaikh says. Already heavily influenced by synthwave and electronic music, a futuristic, mythic plot like Cargo was a perfect fit for Shaikh’s sensibilities. Shaikh adds that he used sci-fi films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Japanese anime Kiki’s Delivery Service for sonic references. “As the movie came together, with VFX and other stuff, it turned into more electronic, futuristic hybrid between spacey synths and organic orchestral with Violins having a constant place.”

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While he’s been going strong with ads, film work and even his own newly launched synth project NeonSamurai, Shaikh admits that his background in the metal scene has been turned into a misconception. “But for me that is exactly what gives me the sound that I carry or am developing. Without heavy metal I doubt I’d even be a musician,” he says. The composer adds with a laugh about how the guitar synths from Providence song “Glass Eye Dawn” found their way on to the score for Cargo as well.

With a NeonSamurai album called Neon Terror coming up (it’s three years in the making), there’s one more film score project coming out of Studio Providence. He adds, “I’ve got two more films lined up, so I’m just moving from project to project, developing my sound and having fun while doing it.”

Watch the trailer for ‘Cargo’ below. 

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