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Shantanu Pandit Talks Sonic Experiments on New Album ‘Milk Teeth’

The New Delhi-bred singer-songwriter and producer invokes themes of childhood and growing up over spacey lo-fi

Anurag Tagat Aug 13, 2021

New Delhi singer-songwriter and producer Shantanu Pandit. Photo: Karanjit Singh

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If you hear a seemingly feminine voice on Shantanu Pandit’s just-released new album Milk Teeth, it’s actually the New Delhi singer-songwriter himself. Songs like “Dinner” and “Do U Know” have vocals in Pandit’s distinct wispy, quietened texture, but also another voice. “I was trying to sound like a child, I used a pitch-shifter and to me, it’s intended to sound like a boy. It’s a repeating motif,” Pandit says.

His long overdue follow up to the 2014 EP Skunk in the Cellar (under his own name, outside of his project Morning Mourning), Milk Teeth sees Pandit knee-deep in trying out all sorts of recording hacks. “Do U Know,” for example, has the sound of leaking steam from a faulty pressure cooker which Pandit used. He adds, “On ‘Halley’s Comet’ there’s these vocal passes that kick in right when the singing ends. I’m so stoked by how that turned out. I was screwing around with this preamp I have. It has a hardware autotune built into it. I ran that through some of my guitar pedals. It almost sounds like a guitar solo, but not quite.”

The sprawling, opening track – along with the penultimate song “Halley’s Comet Reprise” – stems from a childhood memory that Pandit shares with us. “When I was very young, I had seen a comet in the sky. For some reason, my grandma told me it was Halley’s Comet. I ended up reading about it later and found that the last time it flew by was in the Eighties, before I was born. But the sighting stuck with me. I must have seen some other comet but I hope I live long enough to see it,” he says.

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Songs on Milk Teeth range from melodramatic journeys (“Aliza don’t count on me”) and questions of mortality (“As I Grow”) and intimate stories (“Permanent Food”). “Skeeterz” is easy listening folk, while we get warped post-rock on “Uh-O.” Recorded in different cities including New Delhi and Hyderabad, Shantanu also talks about a pan flute he’s used in between “As I Grow” and “Skeeterz.” He chanced upon it at multi-instrumentalist Kartik Pillai’s home in Hauz Khas. Pandit adds, “It’s so tiny that you could barely blow into it. I’m sure it was some kinda showpiece or something, and not a real instrument. He started trying to play it, and there were just these partial tones with odd overtones that I thought sounded so cool! We recorded it.” Originally, he had worked in an “orchestral buildup” and recorded horns with Peter Cat Recording Co.’s Rohit Gupta. “I ended up ditching nearly four minutes of horns and this entire orchestral build up, just for that,” Pandit says.

Safe to say that anyone expecting a successor to Skunk in the Cellar will be treated to a experimental, diverse side to Pandit as a songwriter and producer. Ask him about an ideal setting to listen to Milk Teeth and he says, “For me, I think of winter, sometime in the night, headphones on, eyes closed, listening start to finish.”

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Listen to ‘Milk Teeth’ below. Stream on more platforms here.

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