Premiere: Kolkata Pop Artist Tushar Raj’s Wispy New Song ‘Tum Khush Ho Na?’
The singer-songwriter and producer talks about the road to leaving home and leaning on music for sustenance
When he was 12 years old, Kolkata-based Tushar Raj had aspired to play football professionally. Missing out on an interschool football match due to a less than average performance in school exams, Raj says his parents prevented him from taking a step towards his goals at the time.
The bedroom pop singer-songwriter and producer says he spent most of the subsequent years at home, which led him to discover Canadian pop star Justin Bieber. “Seeing him get so successful at a young age gave me a sense of purpose, that I can too do something like that,” he says. Even as he started taking music seriously and learning production, the years remained tumultuous, leading to what Raj calls a “toxic household,” bullying at school and college, self-harm, drug abuse and failure.
In 2019, he put out a poignant spoken-word track called “Letter To My Future Self,” spelling out his regrets and advice, written from the point of view of an elder brother. “When I had uploaded it, everything changed for the better,” Raj says. Following increasing engagement from fans and listeners via social media and accruing over 70,000 Spotify streams on his 2020 song “Used To It,” the ambient-informed soulful tunes were giving Raj confidence like never before. “I think what really polished my production in such a short time was the number of hours I spent each day. I spent sometimes more than 16 to 18 hours in a day working [on music],” he says.
His latest single “Tum Khush Ho Na?” is equally laborious, even as Raj employs a blanket of lo-fi guitar and vocal layers for a frosty yet cozy atmospheric pop number, singing in Hindi about heartbreak, sleeplessness and more as drum beats add a memorable rhythm.
Currently pursuing an undergraduate degree at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, Raj will be heading out to enroll for in-person classes starting this September. In tandem, he’s working on more music. He says, “As of now, I am currently working on two EPs, which I plan to release by the end of the year. I am also working a documentary which is based on the struggles of my life. Since I’m going to Canada, maybe there will be a lot of international collabs too.”
Stream ‘Tum Khush Ho Na?’ below.