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Hear Mumbai Artist Shal Antal’s Mercurial Pop Debut Single ‘Downright Cruel’

The musician’s soaring vocals shine on the song over moody production

David Britto Aug 09, 2020

Mumbai pop artist Shal Antal. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Growing up in Dubai at schools that would put on musicals at the end of the academic year is where Mumbai artist Shal Antal’s love for music comes from. Of all things, it was the Disney channel that intrigued her to become a singer-songwriter as a 13-year-old. “I always found myself humming melodies to myself that I created at the back of my school bus,” she says. Influenced by the 2002 Madonna hit “Die Another Day,” Antal soon became fascinated with pop music which has now led her to release her own moody debut offering “Downright Cruel.”

According to her, the song has had multiple versions before the one she’s released. The artist says, “The first time I recorded it as a half-baked voice note was in 2018.” Antal explains that working on the track has been a learning curve for her as an independent musician. “It felt right that this should be the first song I put out,” she says.

For “Downright Cruel,” Antal had a clear plan to give the song a beat-heavy direction. Lyrically, the track addresses how unresolved emotions lead people to lose their sense of fairness. “This is something that can happen to any of us at any point in our lives. It can be a cascade effect. That’s what stung me and that’s why I felt the need to write the song,” says the young singer.

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Antal recorded the track at Mumbai’s The Click Studio and also at Chaitu Ka Chamber where fellow singer-songwriter Shannon Donald helped her flesh out the song. “Downright Cruel” has been produced by Gerard Xavier who provides a dark theme with his production work while Antal’s vocals flow over it seamlessly. Aseem Dhaneshwar mixed and mastered the song.

As an artist, Antal tells us that her process usually begins with lyrics and that she tries to attach various life experiences to it that she can make sense of. “I get a burst of inspiration, scramble to find the notes app on my phone and then I type it out until I’m happy with everything I’ve penned down,” she says. The musician also explains that escapism is a major part of her songwriting and that she enjoys exploring themes that are uncommon.

During the lockdown, Antal has been upping her production skills from Mumbai’s True School of Music and has even written more songs. The vocalist – who also performs with the city-based Tilt Entertainment – says, “I want to deal with softer themes in an honest way. I want to see which other worlds I can travel to in my songwriting while I’m all cooped up at home.”

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Stream “Downright Cruel” on Spotify below and click here to listen to it on other platforms. 

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