Hear Mumbai Artist Anurag Mishra’s Cinematic Debut Album ‘Project Swa’
From sublime electronica to sweeping, melodramatic pop, the Odisha-bred artist tells us about what went into his debut
Sometime in 2013, Rourkela-bred singer-songwriter Anurag Mishra had just made the move to study at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore. As a sort of initiation, the seniors had put together a talent night. Mishra says, “[It’s] an official ragging session where the juniors are called to display their talent and the seniors get a chance to pull their leg.”
The singer recalls he was booed off stage, perhaps regardless of his musicianship. By the end of his course in 2015, Mishra may have got rejected for membership of the music club (twice), but he did win a music competition that involved singing to about a thousand people gathered in the college auditorium. Mishra moved to Mumbai for his job – which he’s now quit to pursue music fulltime – and by 2017, had launched his own YouTube channel. He says, “I got a lot of good responses. I did get these comments that said, ‘Anurag, you’re a good cover singer.’ That might be a compliment, but I thought, ‘Am I getting branded as a covers singer?’ I didn’t want that.”
From December 2017 up until earlier this year, Mishra worked to release his debut full-length album Project Swa, which details “subconscious emotions within us.” The eight-track album features Mishra along with composers and songwriters such as Lalit Bohra, Rohit Dubey, Keshuv Huria, Dev Pandey, Prasanna Suresh and Vyaasa-M. Mishra says about the music making process, “They had the bigger input in this, because I went to them with a lot of my ideas and brainstormed a lot.”
Watch the video for “Teri Meri Kahaaniyan” below.
The range of composers – plus vocalists like Akanksha Bhandari (“Paas Aao Na”) and Rupali Moghe (“Chal Pada”) – clearly lent to Project Swa becoming a diverse album. There’s electronica (“Paas Aao Na”), stomping, cheeky rock (“Pyaar Ek Dhoka Hai”) and a whole host of sprawling, polished cinematic pop, heard on songs like “Teri Meri Kahaaniyan” and “Yaadon.” Whether it’s a prayer (“Arzi”), a lullaby (“Maa”) or an ode to a city (“Mumbai”), Mishra and his composers heighten the mood.
The artist doesn’t hesitate to admit that these songs could fit right into a Bollywood movie’s soundtrack. “Consider these eight songs to be like the jukebox of a movie,” he says. That explains why videos for songs like “Chal Pada” and “Teri Meri Kahaaniyan” are crafted almost as short films. Mishra adds, “I have storyboards for every song, but I’m independent and not backed by a label, so I can’t make eight music videos.” Nonetheless, a bit of crowdfunding has gone into making illustrated lyric videos for each song. Mishra adds, “They’re animated sort of videos but convey the meaning I want.”