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Interview with Singer/Songwriter, Sreyashi Mukherjee

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Today, I’m privileged to interview a lady who has lulled herself into the hearts of our members with her truly sweet disposition and her smooth, soothing, dreamlike voice. 


If you haven’t yet had an encounter with the lovely singer/songwriter from Kolkata, India,  Sreyashi Mukherjee, whom we call Sumi, you’re in for a real treat! Let’s get started…. 


Sumi, What got you interested in songwriting?


To be honest I never saw myself as songwriter material.   So maybe... about a couple of years ago when I was well into my thirties.   I come from a music-oriented family and was interested in singing from a very young age.   But all throughout my active involvement in music, until my early twenties, my focus remained on covering songs that I loved and admired. Then, like so many others, I got sucked into life doing the “important things”.


 At some point in everyone's life, the things that we defined as important don't remain that important anymore.  Priorities change, circumstances change, we change or... maybe we suddenly realize we already changed too much from what we really are? That is what happened with me, a decade after I stopped singing.  Something felt sorely missing and my quest for this missing piece led me back to music. 

Unexpectedly, I stumbled upon songwriting at this stage. While exploring opportunities online, I came across different artists and musicians who encouraged me to try out my own composition.  It's been an amazing two years since then and I'm constantly learning and evolving all along! Songstuff has especially played a very big role in re-starting this journey for me because it was one of the first places that I turned to!


"Priorities change circumstances change, we change or... maybe we suddenly realize we already changed too much from what we really are? That is what happened with me a decade after I stopped singing."


How would you describe your particular songwriting style? 


I wouldn’t say that I have a signature songwriting style yet.  I'm experimenting with different music genres to test myself. In general though, my preference is towards working on something that doesn't follow a fixed formula structure-wise and melody-wise. I also prefer to write in abstract formats if it fits the music. I find greater satisfaction from such challenges that I keep for myself. 


You have two albums out;  HOPES AND DREAMS -- a collaboration with Russel Lucas, and ELLIPSIS, a collaboration with Mateusz Kowara.  CONGRATULATIONS! Let’s start by talking about your album, ELLIPSIS. How did you connect with Mateusz?


Well how I got in touch with Mateusz  is indeed an interesting one. First thing, we met via Songstuff.  I received a one-line message from him, asking me to look over his instrumental track and see if I wanted to be a part of it.  Definitely something that a random spammer does! I almost dismissed the message but decided to listen to the track once - and it caught my attention immediately!  I had to engage him in a few conversations after that, though, just to ensure that he wouldn’t "ghost on me" once I started work on the track (nervous smile). It turned out that Mateusz had been actively looking for a co-writer for his song ideas for a long time locally or even within Poland, but had not come across the "right candidates". 


In a last-ditch attempt, he tried the online route. Songstuff was one of the options that popped up. He randomly came across my profile and dropped me a message without even checking out my work! As shaky a beginning as it sounds, he has turned out to be one of my steadiest collaborators and a close friend. This first song draft that we worked together on became "Autumn Leaves", which is also featured in our album "ELLIPSIS". At that time, we had no thoughts about releasing an album but as we continued to work closely and saw another two songs coming to life, we began to think seriously along those lines.


"I almost dismissed the message but decided to listen to the track once - and it caught my attention immediately!"


Were you going for a particular feel or a particular sound at the onset of this album?


 We realized that while our songs were not exactly falling into any particular genre, they had an ambient feel to them, so, we structured the rest of the songs in the album to loosely come under the "ambient pop" category.


In your ELLIPSIS album, you have a song called, *Kings*.  Tell our readers, what IS that song about? 


This was the last song that we wrote while working on the album... it went through a number of revisions before getting its current half-dance, half-Viking vibe. Lyrically, I used “The King”, as a metaphor for all of us. Every king would have experienced power and defeat during his reign. That is the story of our lives, too... a cycle that we ride over and over again.


"*Autumn Leaves* is so aptly named.  As I hear the words of the song, I get an image of a once live, green leaf changing, turning gold and brown as it lilts to the ground much like the relationship you sing about in the song.  Is this the image you intended to evoke?"


Precisely! You have captured the essence very well. And I really feel that nature can depict all the emotions that even the most complex human being experiences - in such beautiful ways...


In *Ruminations* you have a line that resonates with me.  “But if we do run out of words we can always watch the sunset”.  Those are the best kind of friends. The ones that you can just enjoy time with.  Those are the kind you can pick up where you left off even though you haven’t seen each other in a really long time.  Is this song more about friendship or is it more about enjoying the moment?


This song is all about inclusivity - feeling one with everyone, every being, everything. This can only happen if we drop all our preconceived notions and be open to every experience that the moment presents. At some point in our lives (no matter how short-lived), we all must have experienced this and the feeling of liberation and bliss that came along with it. My favourite line? "Let's dive and be free" (calm, glowing cheeks smile).


Your song, *Night Rain* has some interesting musical turns and what seems to be strategic pauses and change ups.  Did you have a particular target you were aiming for in the creation of this piece?


Even in its draft stages, this song was a very ambitious concept. The changing mood of the song brings to one's mind the idea of a musical - almost as if there are many songs in one. We did try to paint a picture with the arrangement and lyrics that describes a particular scene in the rain and some old memories ignited along the way. We probably struggled the most with this song because of the large vision we had for it.  We are also the proudest of this creation!


"I used 'The King', as a metaphor for all of us. Every king would have experienced power and defeat during his reign. That is the story of our lives, too... a cycle that we ride over and over again."


I think your song, *Man-Made World* is one of the songs I find most sonically pleasing in the album, ELLIPSIS.  The resonating echo, “wake up” lends a most appropriate feel to this lyric. I know that the lyric is often only the visible (in this case audible) surface of a mental web of processing when writing.  What were the stirrings behind these lyrics?


Yes, compared to the offbeat nature of our songs, this one is more radio-friendly (Delighted smile). We also made it the first release from our album. For me, I always let the music inspire me to come up with a lyrical theme. In this song's case, the haunting guitar chords and bass-arrangement brought the idea of something ominous to my mind, but like slow-poison. I based it on us...after all, isn't humanity almost at the brink of destroying itself?


I must admit, it does sometimes seem that humanity contributes to its own destruction (bobblehead nod slowing to a stop).  

Next item:  Tell our readers, Is there a significance in selecting the album title, ELLIPSIS?    


Our personal favourite from the album would be Ellipsis, which is what the album is named after.  We know that it will never find its way to commercial acceptability but, it is what reminded us both why we want to make music.  We put our hearts and souls into this song.


"It is what reminded us both why we want to make music. We put our hearts and souls into this song."


Ellipsis is one of the latter three songs you shared with me later as our interview progressed.  It has such a gorgeous, haunting, almost ominous musical introduction and your vocals are just...ugh...absolutely stunning.  I can see why this might be a favorite to both you and Mateusz. It has an almost dreamy, surreal feel to it and the ending just resonates with the listener.  Readers, if you haven’t listened to it yet, you’ve got to check it out!


Are there others who have contributed to the completion of this album that you would like to recognize?


We are very thankful to have Hugiz Records, which mixed and mastered all our songs. We are already casually working on new song material and, when the time comes, will definitely look forward to working with Hugiz Records again!


Let’s talk about your other album, HOPES AND DREAMS.  Your collaborator was Russell Lucas. How did you meet Russell? (I’ve got the inside scoop on this one, haha.)


Did I mention that Songstuff played a big role in helping me find a direction while restarting my musical quest?  (Quirky, pondering smile). Well, I got introduced to Russell Lucas through a friend at SS (wink wink!) about 2 years ago. He comes from the world of classic jazz, blues and country.


I've always had a deep interest in jazz music and collaborating with him helped me to tap deeper into this side. Russ goes into minute details right from music creation to the finishing touches of the song. I have learned a great deal from him and am continuing to do so. 


The themes of this album seem to run the gamut of emotions in an intense relationship.  It seems to go from warm, fond, love-lit acceptance to the sting of lost love, the question of love’s sincerity and relational memories re-visited.  What impact are you hoping these songs will have on our listeners?


Most of the songs done with Russell have been done with the goal getting placed in film music as the themes broadly cover the main situations that many movies depict. We have a long way to go in reaching that milestone but we’ve started to gain some traction in this direction.


*In My Dreams* I think is my personal favorite on this album.  It seems to evoke a “happy memories” feel to it. It’s a chill-out listen.  Did the music come first or did the lyrics? 


Thank you.. it is my favourite, too, from this EP! Yes, it's a really sweet piece of music.  Russ provided me with the track first to check if it inspired me in some way.


Was there a personal inspiration for this one?


 As I explained earlier, I usually try to let the pulse of the instrumental track guide me to come up with a lyrical theme. In this case, the music seemed to create a picture of a Utopian setting in my mind and so I came up with the idea of a Utopian kind of romanticism. It sounds too ideal in real life but I believe that we humans do have a great capacity for love, much beyond our own imagination.


Absolutely!  I think we continue to discover a deeper capacity for love than what we never imagined we were capable of.



"I usually try to let the pulse of the instrumental track guide me to come up with a lyrical theme."


You have two songs on the album, HOPES AND DREAMS that you were the vocalist on, but not the writer.  *Just Like You Wanted* lyrics were written by Susan Cantey with music and arrangement by Russell Lucas.  The other song, *Shadows in the Past* was written by Russell Lucas and Tania Knight. Were the songs ready-made with the vocal melody too, or did you take part in the vision and manifestation of that vision with your vocal melody... and how is it you came by these lyrics?


 Both these songs were fully structured, along with the lyrics, when they were sent to me as demos. Russ had been looking for someone who could bring an emotional range to the songs and he felt that I fit the bill (Happy smile). My main task was to bring in my own interpretation of the vocal melodies. I had, in fact, recorded these two songs first before starting my own compositions with Russ's music.


How did you know you wanted them as part of this album?


 We later decided to make them a part of this 4-song EP, which would be more of a launch of our maiden collaboration under my artist name "Sumi". My fourth song, *Tomorrow* - is an original composition with which we closed off the EP. 


*Tomorrow* is truly reflective of your particular smooth, jazzy, honey-ooze vocal sound and Russell Lucass’s Jazzy, old-timey musical creations.  This is what paired you two together in my mind. Are you planning any upcoming collaborations with Russell in the future?  


Currently, we are working on material to create a full-length album. The genres will be similar but I'm looking forward to experimenting more within these formats.


Romano Erafficci has done the mixing on both JUST LIKE YOU WANTED and SHADOWS OF THE PAST.  We can’t neglect to recognize the impact a good mix can have on the outcome of a song. How did that connection come to pass?  


Romano mixed and mastered all our songs and is also a regular with our new, upcoming material. He really understood the mood and feel that these songs had wanted to create and brought them to life beautifully. Russ, having worked with other artists, was already in touch with him from before. For me, it's probably just another coincidence that Romano is also from Poland (apart from Mateusz and the owner of Hugiz Records)!


Where can listener’s access or purchase your music from?


The links to my releases are:


THE WINGBEATS (Band with Mateusz Kowara) -  




SOLO ALBUM (Collaboration with Russell Lucas) - 




Website: Music and Sumi





Finally, of all the songs from both your albums, which one most resonates with you and why?


I think comparing my work with Mateusz and Russell is like comparing chalk and cheese --- they come from completely different worlds. I'm only extremely grateful that I am getting the opportunity to try out different styles of music with such gifted artists and composers, who are also very warm people.  


"I'm only extremely grateful that I am getting the opportunity to try out different styles of music with such gifted artists and composers, who are also very warm people." 


Chalk and cheese!  There you go, readers!  How exciting it is to collaborate with others in diverse genres and styles!  Sumi has inspired great incentive to explore a variety of collaborators in the songwriting experience!  She’s found two wonderful, warm and skilled artists that she has enjoyed, learned from and produced wonderful albums with.  They’re out there, people, and you may just find your next collaborator on Songstuff!


Well, thank you for agreeing to this interview, Sumi, and I hope to catch your next album when it comes out!  Keep us posted! 

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