For Pune teen singer-composer, writing song is a journey of looking inside
Upamanyu Mukherjee’s first album ‘Negotiating Oxytocin’ debuted at number one on iTunes India Top 100 Albums chart
This 16-year-old lives his heart. The Pune-based composer-lyricist-singer Upamanyu Mukherjee’s debut album “Negotiating Oxytocin” released recently at major digital music stores worldwide is just another expression of his introspective journey. The album debuted at number one on iTunes India Top 100 Albums chart, staying on the charts briefly. He composes on piano and guitar, digging deep into his life experiences to pen lyrics that reflect thoughts and feelings deeply personal and yet enigmatically universal.
A doodle artist, Upamanyu uses the pen, piano, voice and guitar as inter-changeable modes of expression, an adaptive flexibility that has allowed him to craft an intuitive approach to composing and songwriting. The advanced alumnus from Japalouppe Equestrian Centre Pune, Upamanyu loves trekking and has authored a non-fiction book “Chasing Snowfalls” on his learnings from various travels and treks in the Indian Himalayas. And, he is also a competitive swimmer.
Having lived many lives in his teen years, his album, placed in the emerging Alternative Pop, Alt Rock and Experimental Pop genres and comprising seven tracks, covers a range of subject matter from poignant love to alienation to passion.
“Remarkable songwriting for one so young,” said Mastering Engineering Donal Whelan of Hafod Mastering, Wales.
“We don’t come across as much emerging alt-pop talent from India as we’d like to, so today’s discovery of Pune artiste Upamanyu Mukherjee is very exciting. While still a teenager, Upamanyu has already shown himself to be a natural musician who has an impressive ability to write sincere pop songs with meaningful lyrics,” said Alfitude, United Kingdom (blogger, Spotify playlister)
“Negotiating Oxytocin” is co-produced by Upamanyu and Onkar Tarkase, sound engineer and producer with 15 years of experience.
“The album captures the depths of emotions Upamanyu has dealt with. He brings different soundscapes if the songs demand it and the originality of his thought comes through his production and design,” Onkar said.
“I have been writing songs and composing tunes since I was nine. In 2022, I got around to releasing a single (I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend Anymore) and then two more (Lonely and I Love You) this year. But in March, when my family asked, “Are you really a musician?” I realised I don’t have to wait till I am in my 20s to start producing albums. So, I decided to commit and do a complete album instead of releasing a single at a time, which is a safe path to keep exploring different career options. Each song of the album is different, deals with different emotions. I hope that the songs I sing help other people get through what they’re going through, and if they are feeling the same as me, they’ll know that they’re not alone.”
The album, distributed worldwide by Horus Music, is accompanied by an animated music video for the track, 7:55.
Built around Upamanyu’s innovative songwriting and new-age approach to composition and production, the songs are embellished by his deep baritone vocals. The disarming honesty of the lyrics are complemented by the earnest and non-conventional vocal delivery, resulting in songs that are likely to strike a chord with listeners searching for alternative perspectives on negotiating matters of the heart.
“Oxytocin is the chemical hormone related to various aspects of love and its subsidiary emotions. As the album comprises songs that covers different shades of love, I thought it fit to call it negotiating oxytocin. Through the writing of the songs, I realised that it is important to understand myself, what I feel, how those feelings affect my thinking and behaviour, and therefore how I relate to the world. I understood the importance of looking inside along with nurturing relationships with others.” said Upamanyu.
The cub artiste said that alienation is common in the digital age. It could literally happen anywhere and everywhere, and could affect you no matter how old you are. “The digital nature of life is isolation and the more digital you go, the more alienated you get. It’s also much easier to feel lonely in today’s world in comparison to earlier ages because people tend to live more than one life simultaneously and when you get alienated it affects all of them,” he said
On pressures that he feels as a teen musician, he said that being heard and listened to is the most important part of being a musician. “As a kid from some random city in India, I’m literally a nobody in the music field. The biggest pressure is putting in all these hours and days of physical and emotional work but having it go nowhere.” Upamanyu said.
“I never think of a theme and then write a song. Whatever I’m feeling, thinking, whatever is going on my life - that’s where the song comes from. I just sit down at the piano, or pick up a guitar and just let my fingers on the strings/keys express what I’m feeling, and soon enough my voice joins in as words fall into place. When I compose the song and write the lyrics, I give it a heart and a soul,” he said.
For Upamanyu, artificial intelligence (AI) is not helping musicians at all. “Anybody can make music now, but that’s not exactly helpful to all the people who live and work music. People who spend years mastering an instrument and the art of it and learning to speak the language of music only for the same thing to be done by two clicks on a MacBook. I worry about the future, but I also want to live in the moment,” he said.
Making a living out of being an artiste in today’s music industry is incredibly hard. You only really survive off of your own music if you make it really big, and that’s a one-in-a-hundredmillion chance. Secondly, as the digital world advances, the need for songwriters is reducing. Nowadays, technology can write you music, and it seems to be ushering out normal musicians because basically anybody can do it, he said.
A student of Indus International School Pune till Class 8, Upamanyu joined Bharati Vidyapeeth’s Rabindranath Tagore School of Excellence (BVRTSE) and completed his Cambridge IGCSE boards making it to BVRTSE’s Honour Roll for 2023. He holds a micro master in design thinking from Rochester Institute of Technology’s online initiative and completed a course on theory of music through online certification programme with Berklee College of Music.
His debut single “I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend Anymore” was released in September 2022, while his follow-up singles “Lonely” and “I Love You” were released in May 2023. “Negotiating Oxytocin”, his first full-length album, released on August 11, 2023. His album tracklist include Friend (remastered), Lonely (remastered), I Love You (remastered), For You, Smithereens, 7:55 and Fallen. The album is accompanied by three official animated music videos and seven lyric videos.