Kamakshi Khanna And Sanjeeta Bhattacharya Share a Delicate Duet On ‘Swimming’
According to the New Delhi musicians, the new track “tries to capture the power of asking for help”
Last month, at the Mahindra Blues Festival in Mumbai, singer-songwriter Kamakshi Khanna performed an unreleased track. At the time, she announced that the new song would be out soon and is a collaboration with fellow New Delhi singer-songwriter Sanjeeta Bhattacharya. That song is the gentle offering titled “Swimming,” which was released towards the end of March.
Both Khanna and Bhattacharya have known each other for years through the New Delhi music scene. Having also performed together in the past, a collaboration between the pair always seemed likely to happen. On how they teamed up for the track, Khanna explains, “It was inspired by the feeling of spiraling in your emotions and needing a friend to help you out of an overwhelming place. I remember calling a friend and feeling so much lighter, and just feeling seen and heard after our conversation.” She adds, “They reassured me and made it easier to accept my emotions for what they are.” Khanna was keen on recreating that moment through song and wanted another singer-songwriter to play the role of her friend.
With Khanna listening to Bhattacharya’s 2020 single “Watercolour” on loop at the time, she sent her a voice note of the chorus and asked if she would be up for writing a verse for the track. Bhattacharya says, “I Immediately jumped to it and the verse came to me spontaneously within the hour.”
As “Swimming” took shape during peak pandemic times, both artists didn’t meet or even get on a call and wrote the song through WhatsApp voice notes. “Sanjeeta and I instantly resonated with each other and writing a song with her felt like having a conversation with a friend, which aligned beautifully with the concept of the song,” says Khanna.
Sonically, the track opens with tender piano parts before other elements such as ukulele, guitar and percussions add to the emotion of the song, while both Khanna and Bhattacharya’s vocals sit quite exquisitely next to each other. “‘Swimming’ tries to capture the power of asking for help. It’s a celebration of female friendships where you feel free to let your guard down and be vulnerable without the fear of judgment. The song starts in a still and somber way to represent the person struggling, feeling empty and lonely with her feelings,” says Khanna.
Bhattacharya echoes, “‘Swimming’ is an ode to the vulnerable, tender, affectionate half of feminine energy, celebrating relationships where you feel free to swim in your emotions, voice the most difficult ones and be vulnerable without fear of judgment. It’s for that friend who knows how to stay patiently through your highs and lows and pull you out of your own worst tendencies. It’s a reminder of what remains when you feel like you’ve lost everything.”
Mumbai musicians such as guitarist Apurv Isaac (of ska outfit The Fanculos), bassist Adil Kurwa (from rockers The Koniac Net and pop-rock group The Colour Compound) and drummer Karun Kannampilly (also from The Koniac Net and indie rock duo Dino Siren) contributed to the song. Violinist Ajay Jayanthi also played on the track. The entire recording process was done remotely. Khanna says, “I feel so grateful that I got to work with versatile musicians who understood the tender, feminine and delicate approach that the song needed.“
“Swimming” also comes with calming visuals in the form of a music video – directed by Parizad – that sees both singer-songwriters performing the track dressed in white amidst a peaceful setting. Khanna says, “It was the first time I worked with a primarily female crew and the whole experience of creating this has left me in awe of the strong community of women we get to work and grow with.” Bhattacharya adds, “We wrote the song as an ode to the warmth of feminine friendships and here we are building more as we go.”
Next, Khanna is working on a new single, collaborating with other artists and recording more music, while Bhattacharya also has a bunch of collaborations with a number of musicians in the works as well as two web shows and two feature films she’s wrapping up. Will the two of them collaborate again? Bhattacharya says, “I would love to write with Kamakshi again because it feels so organic, and the process is a breeze. When you genuinely admire someone, ideas flow unhinged.” Khanna is of the same opinion, saying, “I would love to collaborate with Sanjeeta again, she was a pleasure to work with.”
Watch the music video for “Swimming” below and stream the song on other platforms.