Tienas on New Record: ‘Every Song Has a Different Mood and Feeling’
The Mumbai MC/Producer drops his debut album ‘O’ tomorrow
It doesn’t matter which moniker you listen to Mumbai-based MC/producer Tanmay Saxena’s music under, whether it’s his Adam Sandler inspired alter ego Bobby Boucher or his stage name Tienas which plays on his initials, the fact remains that this wonderboy of rap is not just here to drum up a beat but to truly bring the storm and stir up the game. A year ago, Tienas released his debut mixtape Unavailable via New Delhi record label Azadi Records, cementing what would become a tradition of the unconventional as he struck a balance between chaotic experimentation and pure finesse. With his debut 13-track album O releasing on June 28th, it’s safe to say that Tienas won’t be treading the shoreline but raising waves in his first full release.
A look at the album artwork will lead any observer to recognize the reprisal of recurrent imagery. The O of the Ferris wheel and its color splattered bearings don’t warrant an explanation. Much like how Tienas doesn’t plan on giving a concrete elucidation. “If you listen to a song, it can take you to a whole different world. People have their own imagination, their own brain and can make their own interpretations. That doesn’t bother me at all,” he says. But he does go on to reveal O’s personal significance: “I love the Ferris wheel okay. It has its ups and downs but the thing is that the ups and downs are still fun. Also, it looks cool as fuck.”
Tienas is no stranger to complex tracks confronting political and social issues. While he belted bars on Maharashtra’s beef ban in 2018’s “Vice City” and dismantled the cult of consumerism in 2017’s “Fake Adidas,” he confronts romantic pariahs and victims on O’s “Die Romeo Die” which features seasoned producer Sajeel Kapoor aka Sez on the Beat. He is as astute with his observations as he is poetic, weaving a comprehensive set of themes ranging from love, sex and heartbreak to natural catastrophes, death and religion on the new record. In his own words, “Why not?”
This sentiment rings true as one progresses through the album. Tienas presents a deliciously complex set of songs, amongst which the hip-hop track “Cyclone” featuring New Delhi rapper Prabh Deep and Shiloh Dynasty, R&B/soul track “Peace of Mind” with a surprising coda and the angsty nu-metal/EDM track “Nice Guy” unveil a soundscape that is both authentic and novel. The album is layered and eclectic enough to warrant a listen on loop.
In keeping with his vision to have more Indian producers on the album, Tienas brought his independent hip-hop collective FTS on board for the closing track “FTS Outro” which also brings him full circle as the group’s co-creator. “Whenever we make a band song, it’s experimental as hell and a whole lot of fun,” he shares. With Azadi records’ Prabh Deep, hip-hop duo Seedhe Maut (on “Seedhe Maut Interlude”) and Sez on the Beat joining Tienas on O, studio sessions were a creatively liberating and ebullient family affair.
The rapper describes his creative process as nothing it was previously, calling the journey one of “half hard work and half procrastination.” He would’ve an idea, ruminate on it and then turn it over for a few days before making or getting a beat. Then came the strap, melodies and concrete manifestation of the original idea. Lyrics soon followed. “Every song has a different mood and feeling. When you’re riding in your car and the sun is going down with the sky turning yellowish orange, ‘Dangerous’ is the song to play,” he says.
It’s no secret that Tienas idolises American rap legend Eminem. And if given the chance to collaborate with him, the artist plans to pull him out of his comfort zone. “Eminem is the king. He was the best, is the best and will stay the best. And I don’t know whether I’ll make a song with him or not, but if I have a song with him, it won’t be a normal rap song. It will be experimental as fuck in which I’ll make him do what he has never done before,” he says.
When asked about whether he questions his position as an English rapper amidst the rise of the multi-lingual hip-hop scene in India, Tienas nods a firm no, “I don’t question my position because I have never been in the scene from the beginning. I would rather make music that I really want to make. When it comes to gully rappers, if they’re having fun, they should have fun with it,” he says, explaining how he enjoys rapping in English.
The MC has come a long way from reverting with the default answer of “I want to be a doctor” at the age of 14 to wanting to be the greatest rapper of all time. If he could turn back the hands of time, he would tell his younger self, “What the fuck are you doing? Make fucking music, dude.”
And while he is here in the present, looking towards the horizon at an immensely promising future, he plans to make moves within and beyond the lines of the native frontier. “Fuck Indian hip-hop, I don’t want to be in Indian hip-hop. I don’t care about Indian hip-hop or American hip-hop or whatever hip-hop it is. I don’t care about being remembered ‘cause when I’m gone, I won’t give a fuck about who remembers me and whatnot. I just want to be here, help a lot of people and make fun with music. That’s all I want to do. I just want to have fun making the greatest music I can make,” says Tienas.
Click here to listen to O.