We were on the lookout for music experts for a different website’s series of articles. One of the responses we received was from Soumita Saha’s PR. We thought why not do a profile article for A Journalist Reveals. Soumita Saha was born and brought up in Kolkata, the City of Joy. She completed a degree in Architecture and pursued several degrees in various forms of music. An excerpt from the interview:
Tell us something about your training.
As a kid, I learnt to speak pretty early and the first word I uttered was ‘Baba’ (father). It is my father who happens to be my first music teacher. Like every other kid, my training schedule too started from thaats and sargam. But, I already knew 2-3 songs from Rabindra Sangeet. My first performance was during my kindergarten days. I was barely 3-year-old when the school in charge approached my Mom saying, “We want your daughter to sing.” It was the school’s annual function for which I performed. The semiclassical and Rabindra Sangeet training ran parallel. Luckily females do not go through drastic voice transition. The voice attains maturity in the post-adolescence period. So, my voice training, which is literally considered as professional training, started after turning thirteen. Once the preliminary framework of training was nearing completion, I started exploring different genres of music.
The music industry is unpredictable. What did your parents say when you took up Sangeet as your career?
Unpredictable indeed, the worst part is to see music Industry becoming an extension of the film industry these days. Independent artists also focus on cover and remixes these days. I wish these independent artists would come up with songs like Alisha Chinoy’s Made in India. I am not going to say Pop artists do not focus on Albums any longer. Some of them are definitely hitting the right chords, but the problem lies elsewhere.Those amazing songs are not reaching Indian audience in the right way. From radio stations to popular music tv channels, all of them are interested in allocating the majority of slots to filmi songs.
Initially, when I took up music as a profession, I was blessed to have a musical background and I have been trained to become professional. Eventually, it became my career and my parents have been supportive throughout. The best part is I was suggested not to go with the flow but create my own place in my customized style. I think this is something not all of us have, therefore I consider myself lucky.
You seem to have been composing a lot of non-film songs. Tell us more about your first and the recent ones.
My first arrangement and composition is something I would rather call a compiled rendition of a preexisting song. I was not ready for a formal release then, so I chose the online platform. My first compilation was a version of Gajendra Verma’s Emptiness, the song went viral and I earned the title Emptiness Girl. Since then I never looked back. I recently made my international debut with Ishq, which released from a Miami based record label. The song beyond a shadow of doubt marked my presence worldwide. The song had been downloaded innumerable times and its popularity can be analyzed by the continuous playing of songs on the worldwide radio.
If you have released them online, how do you earn from it? How do you get satisfaction from this non-earning service?
Releasing songs online can be categorized into amateur and professional categories. Independent releases mean releasing without any record label is undeniably plain sailing. But, earning from it requires an intricate marketing master plan, which is not quite my cup of tea. But yes, I must say a standard content backed with effective affiliates will help in earning better. But, as I already mentioned, the procedure is a little intricate. But with the digital release, the loyalty division in case of earnings undoubtedly can be termed satisfactory. As you just mentioned in your question ‘non-earning service’, the service remains ‘non-earning’ until you develop a satisfactory listener base and you get approached by digital platforms for collaboration. I am not going to dishearten youngsters, who are actually keeping faith in an online release. When you are working hard and improving your content, you will surely get approached for a live performance, from which you are definitely not returning empty-handed anyway.
What else do you do for a living?
As an Architect, I do have a 9-5 job. Other than that my world revolves around music only, taking live shows and recordings for instance.
What are your hobbies?
I do not call music my hobby as it is my lifeline and profession indeed. You can find me making paintings, sketches, doodles, etc., sometimes. I started blogging a couple of years ago. There’s an interesting story behind blogging, too. People often ask me why a beauty blog? Why so much focus on makeup when you are a minimal makeup person in real? This idea was born from a concept which only stage artists can relate to. For singers and anchors when you start performing you do not get paid enough to hire yourself makeup artists and stylists. I am talking about initial stages. I belong to the generation where we’ve seen simplicity fading and the definition of expectations and acceptance get messed up. So when you are on stage you will have to accept that your audience is not only listening to music but ‘watching music,’ as well (Laughs). It was then I started playing my own stylist and with trial and error, I learnt what kind of makeup goes perfectly with costumes I usually wear on onstage. I was self-trained and then I planned to start my blog. I thought it might help aspiring stage artists and models, who can also play their own makeup artists and stylists. Now, I get paid enough to hire a stylist and makeup artist for stage shows, but honestly, I do not need them anymore.
What are your future plans?
I have some originals which were composed earlier but I did not release them. I am planning some unique arrangements for those originals. You can say I am busy giving those compositions a makeover before releasing them. I am also working hard to present some of Tagore’s compositions in Hindi version for the pan-Indian audience. I know this kind work already happened earlier but I am not sticking to the mainstream trend. This time, the song arrangements shall be absolutely something people never heard in this particular genre. As long as my listeners love my work, I believe I shall keep batting. This future plans-question reminds me of a bunch of funny yet immensely enjoyable incidents. Some of my lovely listeners advised me to try acting, once. My music video might have given them misconceptions that I might look good on screen. I do not have any plans to join acting. But, a good proposal can inspire me to give it a second thought.