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See Pragnya Wakhlu’s Majestic New Video For ‘Whale Song’

The New Delhi singer-songwriter collaborated with Australian guitarist Marcos Villalta on the track and Hawaii-based photographer Karim Iliya for the video

David Britto Feb 17, 2021

New Delhi singer-songwriter Pragnya Wakhlu with her band (from left) comprising bassist Sonic Shori, drummer Kunal Netrapal and guitarist Ayan Joe. Photo: Bhanu Wadhwan

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With the release of the jazz-leaning lead single “Fallin’,” off her forthcoming album Lessons in Love last year, New Delhi singer-songwriter Pragnya Wakhlu went on to release her first Hindi track, the upbeat acoustic-led “Akele Hi Sahi” and even got back to playing gigs. She says, “It’s been amazing creating a mini-concert with everyone singing and creating magical evenings amidst all the craziness around.”

Now, Wakhlu is back with the second single from Lessons in Love, this time with her hauntingly beautiful offering titled “Whale Song.”

Wakhlu penned “Whale Song” a few years ago after coming out of a toxic relationship. According to the artist, the metaphor of the whale signifies feelings that lie under the surface of what people tend to show. “It’s only when you take a deep dive into knowing somebody that you really discover who they are and see all facets of their personality,” says Wakhlu.

Australian guitarist Marcos Villalta. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

The track is about confronting uncomfortable emotions and fears and its dark sonic mood represents Wakhlu’s feelings at the time of writing the song. The musician also called upon Australian guitarist Marcos Villalta – whom she met when he visited India in 2019 – to jump in on the song with his jazz sensibilities. “When we started playing together, I found his ideas very complementary to my playing and had a similar sense of what we liked,” says the singer-songwriter. Wakhlu’s rhythm section includes New Delhi musicians; drummer Kunal Netrapal and bassist Sonic Shori.

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There’s also samples of whale calls in the song that Wakhlu was insistent on having included. “I’ve always been fascinated by the mysterious depth of their calls,” she says. While the musicians on the track modified their instruments to come close to whale calls, mixing and mastering engineer Keshav Dhar (from Indo-American prog-rockers Skyharbor) also threw in samples of it. “He [Dhar] also used some other interesting sounds to create an overall ambiance that complimented the mood of the track,” says Wakhlu.

For the song’s accompanying video, Wakhlu went all out to create a magnificent visual. The singer-songwriter reached out to Hawaii-based National Geographic contributor and whale photographer Karim Iliya via social media. “I thought his work was phenomenal,” says Wakhlu. With less than three weeks before the song was due to release, Wakhlu heard back from Iliya. “He said he liked my music and would be happy to collaborate. It was incredible that this amazing person’s generosity was going to make our vision come to life,” says the singer-songwriter.

Hawaii-based photographer Karim Iliya. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

The clip includes footage of beautiful humpback whales that Iliya dives with as part of his initiative called Dancing with the Whales. Wakhlu says, “He gets people to interact respectfully with whales in their natural habitat.” The rest of the film features Wakhlu and her band performing the track against a blue light which has been directed and edited by New Delhi’s Bhanu Wadhwan.

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On the agenda next for the musician is to finish her album Lessons in Love and have it released this year. The third single off the record called “Nice Guy” will follow “Whale Song.” Apart from the LP, Wakhlu is also working on a multi-lingual project and even has a few Kashmiri-English tracks in the works too. She adds, “My organization Mousai is launching a new series of 90-minute virtual sessions on topics such as ‘changing our physiology for mental breakthroughs,’ ‘how to use sound and movement for a peaceful mind’ and ‘empathy and emotions.’”

Watch the video for “Whale Song” below:  

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