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Meet NEXA Music Top 24 Artist: Samujjal & Shujan

How an electronic producer and prog rock vocalist blended their sounds to create something fresh

Riddhi Chakraborty Mar 06, 2020

Samujjal and Shujan photographed by Prashin Jagger for Rolling Stone India

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In the world of music it’s usually difficult to find a combination that works and more often than not, it’s the more out-of-the-box blends that make the cut–Nagaland progressive rock vocalist Shujan De and Assamese electronic producer Samujjal Deb are the perfect example.  “Around two years ago, I made a song and I was looking for the right vocalist who could do justice to it,” recalls Deb. “So, I sent the track to one of my friends from Pune. He is also a singer but his voice wasn’t really suitable for the song which I made, so he introduced me to Shujan whose voice very much suited the song.” They met the next day and realized their artistic synergy could lead to something bigger.

They went on to work on and release three songs together, presenting a fresh electronic pop sound from Deb with a touch of soft rock courtesy De. Their track “She Knows” is kind of like Fun meets Zedd with Deb’s bursts of feel-good synth and De’s breathy, uplifting vocals. In 2019 the duo decided to audition for NEXA Music, a nationwide hunt for English-language artists led by celebrated music director A.R. Rahman and producer Clinton Cerejo. The two were quickly shortlisted in the Top 24 and would go on to be mentored by Rahman and Cerejo as well as get the chance to grace the December 2019 cover of Rolling Stone India with the rest of the Top 24 and Rahman. “Honestly, we weren’t really expecting this,” confesses Deb. “A friend of mine saw a post on social media as to how A.R. Rahman sir and his team are looking for talented Indian music composers to help them to get the recognition they deserve. So, we immediately applied for that and later, after a few weeks, we got a call from their management team regarding the selection. We were surprised and extremely happy.

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Deb feels that musicians who sing in English in India don’t expect to make it big and need something like NEXA Music to help change that. “A platform like NEXA Music is highly necessary for a country like India where Hindi songs are given more preference than the English songs. Because the musicians who make English songs, they don’t really have much support  from any other platforms compared to the Hindi songwriters. So, NEXA Music is doing a great job helping the English music composers get noticed and get the recognition they deserve.”

In addition to the competition being a valuable learning experience, NEXA Music adds a certain weight to what these artists are doing with their lives. Industry titans like Rahman and Cerejo spending their time honing these artists’ skills leads to the audience having more faith in Deb and De’s potential. “Our profile as musicians just got upgraded by being NEXA Lab Artists. We both learnt a lot working with Rahman sir and Cerejo sir. We learnt how a song could be made even better than the previous one.”

After their success on NEXA Music, Samujjal & Shujan plan on building the momentum in 2020. “The plans for both of us are to get more gigs and release more and more beautiful songs,” Deb confirms. “We are currently working on a track and we will be releasing it soon to everyone. Also, we will now be releasing music videos quite frequently.”

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