How Rohan Solomon Shifted to Production and Returned to Songwriting
The New Delhi and New York-bred artist recently released his single “Set Me Free”
When New Delhi rock band Cyanide took part in Channel [V]’s band competition Launchpad in 2007, frontman Rohan Solomon didn’t really think music was something he would pursue seriously. “It started off as a hobby. I was into my family business of real estate,” he says over a video call.
The alt-rock band – which also comprised drummer Srijan Mahajan (now part of rock veterans Parikrama) – made it to the finals of Launchpad and it became a high point of sorts in the six years they’d been together. Solomon adds, “Stuff just snowballed, we started earning money from [indie music] and it seemed like a viable career option.”
Cyanide were earning from gigging, but Solomon recounts there was a “shift in the industry” by 2010 when live music lost its appeal for him. Simultaneously, he was diving deeper into music production, which has become his main calling card today, alongside his solo singer-songwriter releases. “With Cyanide, I used to have the entire song in my head and I didn’t have a way of putting it across. I didn’t know why it wasn’t sounding good,” he says.
Solomon moved to New York, studied audio engineering and got placed at a studio called Engine Room Audio and dove right into the world of pop production by 2017. It even led to him working as an engineer on hip-hop artist Anderson .Paak’s Grammy-winning song “Bubblin’” with Engine Room boss Vinnie Pagano. Solomon recounts it was “purely luck” since it wasn’t his assigned shift but he was called in anyway. “There were a few tech issues… usually Paak would come in and play drums but he didn’t want to always play. We ended up moving his kit to another room and mainly did vocals. It was a very productive session at the end of the day. I was lead engineer for a couple of Anderson songs but I don’t think they released,” he adds.
What Solomon learned from those kinds of high-profile sessions with topline artists was how important it was to be prepared and skillful at all times. “It ruins their flow if you take too long,” the producer says. Solomon’s cardinal studio rule is to always have the mic ready to record until the artist leaves. More than that, he feels that producers can be therapists of sorts for artists in the studio. “It’s important to take a backseat and say, ‘Well, what do you think?’ It makes them comfortable,” Solomon adds.
Back in New Delhi at his Synergy Audio Productions studio, Solomon is working with artists like Kiara Chettri and Aditi Iyer, teenaged pop artists who want to do a lot with their music. The producer speaks about them excitedly but he’s also working with his studio assistant (and composer) Harshit Verma on new material, building up to a full-length album. In the meantime, Solomon’s solo single “We Demand Change” and his work as a producer for Chettri’s track “Why” have both been submitted for consideration at the upcoming Grammys.
Among the first glimpses of that album came with his recent single “Set Me Free,” a typically Nineties and early 2000s-inspired alternative rock song, fitted with intricate flourishes of string arrangements. There are three more songs in pre-production stage and two more already being produced. “A lot of all this is teaching me something new every time,” Solomon adds.
Listen to “Set Me Free” below.