New Delhi’s Deveshi Sahgal Dives into Chaos and Catharsis on ‘Time Keeper’
The Sufi vocalist turns to dark electronica with help from producer-guitarist Viraj Mohan and veteran DJ-producer Gaurav Raina
When New Delhi-based singer-composer Deveshi Sahgal performs Sufi concerts across India, she’s often greeted by middle-aged, genteel admirers. “After the performance, they greet me with ‘Namaste’ and say, ‘Aapne itna badiya gaya’ (you sang so well). When I start talking, they’re quite shocked because I’m quite childish and playful,” Sahgal says.
The vocalist has another side to her that she’s been developing for more than a decade – one that’s often dark and melancholic and seemingly informed by goth rock. Her debut song “Time Keeper,” however has been in the works since 2018. Eerie, chaotic and swerving into electro-rock territory, the song has been produced by Viraj Mohan (aka Karajimo) and mixed by electronica veterans Midival Punditz’ Gaurav Raina. Even though it’s quite a psychological song that looks into a toxic relationship, Sahgal is able to laugh when she shares the running joke about how a song called “Time Keeper” has taken two years. “I should really watch out for what I name my tracks,” she says.
Between mournful vocal hooks, there’s expletive-laden spoken word sections, which Sahgal says is meant to disturb. She says, “People don’t like talking about the ugly side but I personally feel that as an artist – I even paint and sculpt – I do end up portraying the lows and the darkness.” In the video shot by New Delhi photographer/illustrator Mad Paule, there’s an overarching menacing red hue, with Sahgal by a fire, interspliced with shots of a spider, amongst other murky visuals.
Understandably, it’s been “tough” for Sahgal to balance both Sufi performances and this solo project. “They’re completely different aspects of my personality. One side is very calming and structured and peaceful and the other one is very chaotic. I feel that the stuff I write is cathartic in a way, getting all the stuff out of my system,” she says. With a total of eight tracks set to be released in the coming months, Sahgal says she’s keen to begin performing a mixed set as well, offering an insight into both personas.
Watch the video for “Time Keeper” below.