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Why Harpist Nush Lewis Wrote Her Latest EP On The Piano

‘I was looking to compose on something new,’ says the Mumbai-based musician on ‘Bridges’

David Britto Apr 22, 2019

Mumbai musician Nush Lewis. Photo: Naman Saraiya

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The last time we spoke to Mumbai-based musician Nush Lewis, the harpist released her single “Spilt Milk” in 2017 – which also happened to be the first song she ever wrote. Since then, Lewis launched her music education property OffSet, stepped down as a faculty member at Mumbai’s True School of Music and has followed up her 2015 debut Fused with a new record, Bridges.

Two years ago, Lewis told us that everything on Bridges was first written on the piano rather than the harp. “Writing on the piano surprisingly came to me quite naturally.” She adds, “The piano gave me way more harmonic ideas as compared to the harp and that opened a whole other dimension for me.”

That “other dimension” comes across quite proficiently with the scaled up production on Bridges as compared to Fused. Lewis says this “was a conscious decision as well as a certain amount of growth in the art.” She explains further, “I wanted to create something that was not just a collection of songs that was put together to meet the requirements of an EP. I’ve always been someone who loved concept driven pieces which had themes running through.”

Bridges is a pleasant and quaint listen, from the soothing opening track “Untuned,” which according to the musician is “leaping into freedom and embracing it.” The soulful “Travel” is a story of unachievable love while the harp-heavy “Lament” “is a grandmother’s walk through life,” according to Lewis. The dynamic and electronica-esque “Threads” features Italian producer Luca Petracca and “is about the lies we surround ourselves with.” On the melancholic EP closer, “Distance” (which features Mumbai ambient artist Riatsu aka Shadaab Kadri), Lewis says, “[The song] is about an alternate universe we would like to escape to.”

Unlike Fused, Lewis chose to work with other musicians on Bridges. The harpist/pianist brought in Mumbai neo-soul band Smalltalk’s rhythm section; drummer Linford D’souza and bassist Yohann Coutinho. Lewis also called on longtime live collaborator Mallika Barot on backing vocals. The new EP was recorded across three Mumbai studios; Theatre 74, Island City Studios and Wah Wah Music, mixed by sound engineer Ishan Naik and mastered by Italian-bred MarcoAntonio Spaventi.

‘Bridges’ artwork by Vaishnavi Kumar.

The artwork for Bridges was designed by Lewis’ childhood friend Vaishnavi Kumar, who recently completed her Masters in Design from Boston University. “[She did] large paper cut pieces for each song on the EP. So that process alone was massive. Right from her, of course, cutting the pieces to shipping them here was a massive process.” Lewis adds, “We had to digitize these incredibly intricate pieces and now are looking to make them into cloth panels.” The musician is also selling the original paper cut creations.

Next, Lewis is looking to take the EP live with a tour across the country kicking off next month. Apart from that she also has plans with Offset for later this year. “I’m also looking at a few collaborative projects,” says Lewis.

Stream ‘Bridges’ on Spotify below: 

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