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Hear Indo-American Rock Artist Saahil Bhargava Channel Angst on Debut EP ‘Ronin’

The Los Angeles-based, Mumbai-bred singer-composer worked with producer Keshav Dhar on the five-track record

Anurag Tagat Aug 19, 2021

Los Angeles-based Indo-American artist Saahil Bhargava. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Following his schooling in Mumbai, New York-born artist Saahil Bhargava headed out to a liberal arts college to major in history and political science in 2012, but also took on courses in music, astronomy, theater and film. He says over a call from his current home in Los Angeles, “I wanted to learn about the world and understand how to think from different perspectives, which in many ways shaped how I write today.”

Bhargava’s debut EP Ronin features songs like “Kohima,” which takes inspiration from topics such as the Battle of Kohima during World War II, when India’s soldiers were fighting Japanese forces at the behest of Great Britain. The slickly animated music video co-created by Harmeet Rahal and Bhargava – who is also an animation writer – made it to the L.A. Shorts International Film Festival last month.

Drawing from alt-rock, post-hardcore and prog on “Kohima,” Bhargava also owns his forte as a multi-instrumentalist, trained in classical piano, jazz, rock and metal. “I got to musical theater in New York before I eventually settled on what I’m doing now, which is very story-driven rock,” he adds. Ronin — which features songs released in a piecemeal fashion over the span of a year — opens with an orchestral piece called “Overture” to nod to his western classical interests, while the title track “Ronin” seems straight out of a musical, swelling to a rock ballad which speaks from the perspective of a samurai. “I wrote it in 2019 when I came back from a visit to Osaka Castle in Japan. I think I was the only person who read every caption in their museum,” he says.

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Watch the video for “Ronin” below.

The electronic-inflected prog song “Mama” recalls bands like Leprous and Bring Me The Horizon in turns, even as Bhargava steps on the angst pedal for the track that was written while he followed anime series The Promised Neverland. For his part, the artist namechecks everyone from Audioslave to TesseracT to Linkin Park, plus composers like Chopin and Steven Sondheim as his influences. Although rooted in angst and pain, “Wind” is the mellower track on Ronin, inspired by action adventure game The Last Of Us.

The suitably introspective record also features additional guitar work by Keshav Dhar (from prog band Skyharbor), who also helped produce the album remotely through the course of the pandemic. High on the agenda for Bhargava now is to take this project live, plus release two singles this year. “I’m working on a song right now that I actually wrote when I was in college, which I’m hoping will release later this year.”

Listen to ‘Ronin’ EP below. Stream on more platforms here.

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