Tejas On Latest LP ‘Outlast’: ‘This Album Is Not Just Music for Me, It’s So Much More Important Than That’
The Mumbai-based singer-songwriter counts his new record as his most personal
Looking back at the release of his highly successful full-length debut album Make It Happen in 2017, Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Tejas tells us he’s “extremely grateful.” Since then, the musician explains that he’s entered a very personal space and that now it’s all about growth for him. Tejas – who turned 30 in 2019 – recalls his Twenties and says, “What was good? What was bad? What do I double down on? And what are the things that I’ve to take away from that period, and I’ve tried to kind of grow from that.”
That development has led to the musician putting together his most personal batch of songs out in the shape of his just-released seven-track sophomore LP Outlast.
Although Tejas began performing tracks off the record at gigs over the last few years, according to him, Outlast only began to take shape at the beginning of 2020. With his production chops enhanced since Make It Happen, the singer-songwriter began putting down ideas for songs himself instead of working it out with his bandmates – bassist Adil Kurwa (from pop-rock band The Colour Compound, rock group The Koniac Net and instrumental prog metal band Letterz) and drummer Jehangir Jehangir (of ska outfit The Fanculos) – in a jam room. He says, “We worked on it as a band. We all sat in front of a computer instead of sitting in front of each other with instruments.” The musician adds, “I know that doesn’t make the greatest jam room story, but in a digital age like this it’s probably as grateful as I can be, which is all three of us were in one room together in front of a studio computer.”
Exactly a year ago Tejas began teasing the release of Outlast by dropping the record’s first single; the hopeful “Lead” was followed by the album’s second offering a few months later, the ambitious “The Bombay Doors.” Both these songs appear right at the start and are just a tiny sample of what’s in store with the rest of the dexterous record.
The third song on the album is the dance-pop “Figure 8.” The track is Tejas’ answer to the notion that singer-songwriters can pen more than just sappy love songs. He says, “It’s about me subverting who I am, identity-wise, but at the same time, it’s also about growing older.” Next, we hear the hooky “Forget Conversation” before we’re treated to the jumpy synth-rock offering “Is Anyone Listening?”
The penultimate song on the album is the poignant ballad “Story,” which has been 11 years in the making. Tejas mentions that he wrote it about the first person he loved. “The song is about closure. A lot of this album is about catharsis,” he says. That brings us to the album’s closer, the somber title track, the longest song at six and a half minutes on the LP that spins for half an hour in total. While the word outlast comes up as a lyric in “Forget Conversation” and is also the name of the final song on the album, Tejas tells us that calling the record Outlast felt conclusive to him after his 2014 debut EP Small Victories and Make It Happen. He says, “It feels like there’s an open ending. The way I even think about stuff narratively is in terms of movies. I do think in trilogy. I think in conclusion, I think about how do I end this journey?” He adds, “Outlast just stuck out as the title.”
Tejas co-produced Outlast with Kurwa and Jehangir and recorded it at Mumbai’s Island City Studios, where it was also mixed while Shawn Hatfield at Audible Oddities in the U.S. mastered it. There’s also a plethora of household indie names that have performed on the album such as vocalists Mallika Barot, Aria Nanji, Aarifah Rebello and Maalavika Manoj, horn players Ramon Ibrahim, James Miranda and Rhys Sebastian, guitarist Apurv Isaac and pianist Rohan Rajadhyaksha (from alt-rockers Spud in the Box). “When people kind of help out or extend themselves to achieve this one goal, which is a very personal goal of mine, it’s weird. ‘Hey, I have this song about my family, can you all come together and make sure that it sounds the best version it can,’ it’s a weird one [laughs],” says Tejas. He adds, “But stuff like that has made me absolutely happy with what this production process has been like.”
While the production is quite indulgent and exposes Tejas’ pop sensibilities extremely well, the bones of the album remain in his songwriting. As the tracks cover themes of “innocence and maturity, mental health, loss of youth and everlasting hope,” the sonic canvas he’s been able to paint with his buddies is built on pure emotion and forward-thinking. Even though Outlast is seeped in pop music, there’s plenty of elements from rock, country, R&B, electronica and more that when mixed together well, creates that quintessential Tejas sound.
One of the key things Tejas said during the course of our hour-long conversation is that the album is not just music for him, but much more than that. He says, “I want people to know that this is personal, this is super important to me. I don’t know if I’ll write another record like it, I know I’ll always write personal songs but I want people to know that.”
When it comes to promoting the album, Tejas put together a listening session last night just before the record went live on streaming platforms. The singer-songwriter also has plans to shoot a music video as well as live studio sessions. The football fan in Tejas is also keen on assembling something similar to a matchday program of all the magnificent art that illustrator Vibhav Singh has worked on for the record. “The details are far more interesting to me, all these little nerdy things, that’s fun,” he says.
On the cards next, Tejas is keen to perform the album live when things are safe. There’s also a special he wants to shoot and post online that chronicles him coming to India from Dubai, his parents and his relationships. There’s also another musical in the pipeline (he released Conference Call last year) alongside more podcasting with Geek Fruit as well as a new fiction audio show. While it may be too soon to talk about new music, Tejas immediately chimes in and says, “There’s an album which is mostly written. It’s going to be very different from this.”
Stream ‘Outlast’ on Spotify below and on other platforms.