Her band, Shaa’ir+Func, is almost a decade old now. She, on the other hand, has made a mark in India as a singer, actor, composer, fashion designer and lyricist over the past few years.
Today, Monica Dogra is a popular name among indie music lovers. And on Friday, she released her debut album, Spit. In an exclusive chat, Monica talks about her first record, why she likes to surprise herself by trying out different forms of art, doing commercial Bollywood films, and more.
Tell us about the album.
It’s a collection of stories in songs of different genres, and has a lot of poetry. As always, I have revealed all my secrets in the album, and have documented my life through music.
Apparently, your maternal uncle is a Dogri folk singer. Are you familiar with the genre?
I grew up listening to him and playing antakshari in my mum’s village in Jammu. So, if I dive deep into my head and heart, it is all still there.
Shaa’ir+Func is about a decade old now. How has the outfit grown over the years?
The journey has been incredible. Of course, it has been full of ups and downs, but that is life. I feel we have had a strong hand in carving out how the independent Indian music scene is today. That feels good.
Watch Say What You Like, Monica’s new single
What’s keeping you busy these days?
I am busy promoting my new album. It’s exciting. It feels like a paradigm shift in my artistry and career.
Are you working on any other solo projects?
I am working on building an immersive show with dancers and installation artistes. It will be something different. I didn’t want to do a standard tour, since I’ve done that for years.
What do you enjoy more, being an actor or a musician? What comes more naturally to you?
I believe they are inseparable and intertwined. I am asked this question on several occasions. Being an actor and a musician are two extensions of me as an artiste. So, I can’t choose one. It would be like cutting myself in half.
You have mostly acted in offbeat films. Do commercial Bollywood movies interest you?
They are starting to. I will soon be seen in a very Bollywood-esque film Teraa Surroor that stars Himesh Reshammiya and an ensemble cast, which includes Naseeruddin Shah, Kabir Bedi and Shekhar Kapur.
Watch Teraa Surroor trailer
What kind of roles appeal to you?
I am interested in surprising myself at this point. I want to take myself less seriously. But the roles I do take up have to be in line with subjects that inspire me. Luckily, nowadays, I am less of a cynic. I am really interested in diversifying my art.
Do you ever plan to take a break from music or films?
I am hoping to go to Los Angeles, USA, soon to study music production for a month.
What are your aspirations as a musician?
Everything that has happened so far has been a dream. Performing on the stage, and now, the launch of my solo album, have been amazing experiences. Hopefully, the immersive show will be another step in that direction. I work to make my dreams come true. It’s not easy, but it’s thrilling as hell. I love it.