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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

Meet Sneha Khanwalkar, India’s Imagine Heap

Nirmika Singh, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, April 14, 2012
First Published: 15:14 IST(14/4/2012) | Last Updated: 15:19 IST(14/4/2012)

Sneha Khanwalkar is determined to prove that the sound of scraping wood, the revving of a tractor’s engine and even the humble thuds produced during a champi (head massage) can indeed be made into music. Armed with a sound recorder, the music composer has been on a journey across the country to hunt for prospective raw material, which will be chronicled in MTV’s new travelling music show, Sound Trippin that goes on air tonight.

Sneha Khanwalkar

“I’ve always been fascinated with sounds from everyday life and I feel that every sound can be transformed into a music track,” says Sneha, who has composed for films like Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (2008) and Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010) in the past.

For her sonic quest, Sneha  travelled across 10 locations in India — from Yellapur in Karnataka to Qila Raipur in Punjab, besides Kanpur, Varanasi and Goa. Apart from capturing diverse sounds such as the rapid chattering of welding metals and the tinkling of bells, she also involved locals from the places she visited in her musical project. She recalls, “Sometimes, people would be shy when I’d approach them to sing out things like ‘pinggg’ or ‘trrrrrr’, but eventually they’d get comfortable.

I also got a chance to record people in the environment that they’re most comfortable in, i.e., their own space, rather than getting them into the closed space of a recording studio.”

Ask her who her inspirations have been in this venture and she says, “Bjork and Imogen Heap. In fact, I like to call myself ‘Imagine’ Heap when I’m doing this.”

Ask her how difficult it is to capture sounds that aren’t stereotypically associated with a place, for example, recording trumpets in Goa and she says, “I tried my best not to do that!” Aditya Swami, EVP and business head, MTV, chips in to add, “She herself isn’t stereotypical, so you won’t find anything stereotypical about her music either!”

Sound Trippin comes at a time when music channels have been offering innovative reality shows that combine the music and travel format. Last year, Star World’s The Dewarists saw various indie artistes collaborating while on journeys to remote places. The Great Gig In The Sky, launched by BIG CBS Spark, is currently on air, featuring artistes traveling with a small group of people, performing acoustic versions of their songs while taking part in adventurous activities.

Sound check
Qila Raipur (Punjab)
For her song titled ‘Tung tung...’, Sneha fed on sounds such as galloping horses, the beating of drums, cheers and hooting that were heard in plenty at the 76th Rural Olympics held there. She also brought on board the Noora sisters to lend their rustic vocals for the tracks. “The sound of musical instruments in Punjab is vocally articulate. That’s what I’ve experimented with here,” she says.

Yellapur (Karnataka)
Khanwalkar roped in members of the Siddi community, who are of African descent, for the track ‘Yere yere…’.
She used words from their folk songs as well as sounds like claps and yells from an elderly lady for this song.
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