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Singer-Songwriter Nyla Saldanha Pays Homage to Her Late Dad with Melancholic New Song ‘Small Talk’

‘I wrote it in October 2019, after my 59-year-old father, Fritz was diagnosed with severe depression,’ says the Bengaluru-based artist

David Britto Oct 09, 2020

Bengaluru-based singer-songwriter Nyla Saldanha. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Singer-songwriter Nyla Saldanha had moved out from her hometown in Kolar Gold Fields to Bengaluru at the age of 15. Her parents always supported her decisions of traveling and moving cities, which stemmed from the closeness they shared ever since she was a child, especially with her late father Fritz. She says, “Over the years that was mostly expressed in the small talk we made.” That morphed into the title of her latest single “Small Talk,” which is an ode to her dad.

According to Saldanha, she was always aware that she shared a number of similarities with her father. “We felt pain the same way,” she says. In October 2019, the singer-songwriter learned that her dad was diagnosed with severe depression while she was based in Mumbai over the last four years. At this point their conversations had watered down to just “hi’s, how are you’s and where are you’s.” Saldanha says, “But in them I knew was a deep-rooted love, stronger than anything I’ve ever known.”

Before her father was formally diagnosed with depression, the musician did talk to him about it and discussed that they both had instances of suicidal thoughts. Saldanha’s plan for when she returned home for Christmas last year was to have a nice long chat with her dad, away from the usual small talk. She says, “My father ended his life last December, 10 days before I was to go home. We never got to have that long conversation, and he never got to hear ‘Small Talk.’”

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Saldanha’s music does go back to when she would sneak into her father’s dental clinic attached to their home in Kolar Gold Fields, and listen to what was playing on the radio, from groups like Abba to Boney M. “My father loved to work to music, and I would always run to the clinic if I heard songs I like playing,” she says.

On the melancholic “Small Talk” we hear delicate guitar plucking and a beautiful string section while Saldanha’s voice shines on the track with harmonies and dynamics. The singer-songwriter recorded it with producer David De Menezes, who also mixed and mastered the song. “He’s [De Menezes] an ever so patient and kind friend, who believed in the song when I didn’t,” says Saldanha.

The accompanying 3D animated video for “Small Talk” was created by Christy Johnson and with assistance from Harshit Singh. Johnson used references from old images of Saldanha’s house in Kolar to recreate elements in the video that represent her old bedroom, which was once her father’s too. “Christy understood so much of what I wanted the video to be without me having to say it. We both share histories of loss. We wanted the video to look almost like a dream,” says the singer-songwriter.

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While the lockdown has come at an already tumultuous time for Saldanha and her family, she explains that although it is sad, there is still reason to be hopeful. For now, the singer-songwriter doesn’t have any plans to put out new music and wants to take her time with her releases. “I try not to let the constantly churning content cycles influence me,” says the artist

Watch the video for “Small Talk” below and stream the song on other platforms.

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