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How Jhalli’s Grandmother Inspired Her to Write Her Debut EP ‘Why Should I?’

The six-track record showcases the Mumbai artist’s blend of soul, rock and pop music

David Britto Apr 27, 2022

Artwork for Jhalli's debut EP 'Why Should I?'

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When we ask Mumbai-based pop artist Aaliyah Qureishi aka Jhalli what she hopes people will take away from her recently released six-track debut EP Why Should I?, she immediately says, “I hope listening to this EP brings you joy.”

The music bug bit Qureishi at an early age and she hasn’t looked back since. From singing before she could speak to joining choirs and looking up to Miley Cyrus and her alter ego Hannah Montana, the artist also picked up the guitar along the way.

Qureishi tells us that she didn’t have to look any further than her grandmother’s independent spirit for inspiration to write her new record. She says, “This EP is actually inspired by [my grandmother’s] rebellious self.” 

In this interview with Rolling Stone India, she opens up about the songs on the EP, what she has in store next and more.

When did you begin work on Why Should I?

It all began pre-Covid. Initially, I did not intend to create an EP. It just happened as I started progressing my inner thoughts and feelings into the music. During the pandemic, I used to sit for an hour every day and write whatever came to my mind. It was a daily practice that I established during the lockdown. All the songs from the EP are a part of that practice.  

I have always been pretty vocal about controversial topics and the problems that we as women face in society, and this was the time to actually put it into words. Hence, I ended up making an entire EP about the same. Everything I felt during those moments was aligned together and I created something that I thoroughly believed in.  

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What can you tell us about the record?

With respect to the sonic imprint, I wanted to create polished pop songs. Back in college, I was heavily inspired by indie rock, modern rock, and bedroom rock as a whole genre. But with this EP, I wanted to do something different. My intention was to have a polished indie-pop sound. I like experimenting and I believe my voice can teach me so much about myself. Everything came full circle when it hit me that I wanted to use a different kind of tone this time. I decided to explore a softer tone to gauge a more unique and jazzy melody, and I ended up combining everything and making it distinct in nature.

I handpicked the songs for the EP specifically; I write a lot of songs, and every song is different from the other. My lyrical theme for this EP is very interesting. I want it to make noise and reach more audiences. There is a message in my lyrics, and I want more people to open up and speak about it too. It can come across as controversial but it’s more about how society thinks, about the human mind, and the way we perceive things.   

What was the recording and production process like for this EP?

My friend and producer Austin Foley aka Jynjo helped me with the music production. I played all the songs on my guitar and sent them to him. He is amazing, I love working with him. I gave him references for all the songs. I also produce, so we built on the music. It was a collaborative effort for sure.

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We produced this EP digitally while he was in L.A. and I was in Mumbai. The recording was done at Island City Studios and my background vocals were recorded at my home studio. My mixing engineer, Sachin Nair, was also of great help to me. It was such a fun process to see my entire EP coming to life.

What plans do you have to promote the record further?

There is a lot that will be going on. For starters, I am throwing a ‘Slumber Party/Misfit Party.’ This will act as a mini-tour for my EP release. We want people to just come and enjoy themselves. We also want to create Jhalli merch.

What’s next?

Honestly, I am not sure about the future. I have some great Hindi tracks lined up, and I can’t wait for people to check them out. At the moment, I want to enjoy my debut EP release and enjoy the entire process of seeing it come to life finally. I do want to start performing live and that is definitely going to happen this year. There may be a few collaborations as well; I guess I will see as it comes to me. 

Stream ‘Why Should I?’ on Spotify below and on other platforms.

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