It’s always fun to go for cold beers, food and music after work, given if only you want to live,think and stay young. So, it was a random place for me till the time I didn’t step into, ‘38 Barracks’ last Wednesday. A place full of guns and barrels, sophisticated grunge, deferential servers and resplendent food. A place inspired of an army barrack form factor; is an amalgamation of many states and metropolitan is legitimised in the ambience and cuisine served there.
In fact I thought for a moment that if I am in an Army now!? 38 Barracks is a concept that spoils you for choice if you’re the vicinity of CP, New Delhi without much pinch on your pockets.
However, my agenda of stepping into that place was something else, and little anticipated prior in my mind. As I was chasing to catch hold of the greatly talented Delhi based musical duo – Sonali & Pooja, performing across the city and even in some parts of the country for some good time now.
The duo created an independent ensemble called, ‘Storeys Unknown’ and ‘Rebel’ is their original composition that stroked the chord in my mind to meet them someday, and converse a lot over a mug of beer. As alcohol, at times helps one to understand the world better!
Here are few excerpts following my heart-to-heart conversation that day with Sonali Vij – a passionate follower of alternative rock music who is making it big as an Indian-origin, NRI artist with her equally talented partner Pooja Mondal, calling themselves collectively as ‘Storeys Unknown’. They performed live acoustic sets at 38 Barracks, after this meeting.
- What does your name mean?
Ans: Well, it means “Golden” halo.
- It’s been a long 14 years of journey so far as a composer, song writer, and sound engineer, now as a well accepted vocalist too. How do you feel about it? What do you think is your take back home so far from the quite a successful journey.
Ans: (Chuckles) I’m still in the process of learning and my audience is still in the process of accepting me. We’re closing in from distant ends and will hopefully meet and truly fall in love with each other soon, because then I’d have made a mark with a better degree of my skill and they’d have accepted me fully.
- Covers or originals, which do you like presenting more for your audiences? and why?
Ans: I like to perform my originals since they reflect my identity as a music artist. Each one of my song is an extension to my soul.
- There’s a myth that you are an introvert and focused kind of a personality at your shows. Is it true?
Ans: (Laughed out loudly) Yes, it is true. Frankly, I am not an extrovert. I did for some time struggle with myself to become one, but now, I’m at peace with being the introvert that I am. Honestly, I don’t think it is that important to break out of your comfort zone. Not, at least, when your comfort zone is the place where your mind can be at peace and where your emotions can come together to make an art, called music.
- You have spent a good amount of time living abroad, and later at cities like Mumbai and Delhi in India. As a human being whose passion is music what are the obstacles that you have faced in urge to live up to the societal expectations at all of these various locations.
Ans: When I started out, I was determined to establish myself as an original artist. For more than a year, I did shows with a set list of my originals alone. It may not seem true, but my original songs were very generously welcomed by my audience. This was always the plan. Nothing would have changed it, but the venues don’t pay an artist for exhibiting their art. They pay them for giving what they expect. The only difference in the kind of shows I did when I started and the kind of shows that I do now is that earlier it wasn’t for money and the procedure wasn’t standardised. I wish that the management at these venues becomes liberal enough to give artists the authority to carry out their work in their unique way.
- It’s not always about Sonali Vij, but the greatly talented musical duo – Sonali & Pooja that’s how the audience of Delhi-NCR perceives, at least. What is the mutual respect sharing ratio between both of you, if we may know?
Ans: It is the work of Pooja (Mondal) that has led to Sonali being known for what she is. Pooja’s role in the band is that of a keyboard player. In the duo set up, her part is that of a percussionist and a second vocalist. When off stage, she operates as the manager of ‘Sonali Vij’ and our band ‘Storeys Unknown’. While I take care of everything to with production, Pooja takes care of the business side to music.
- What are the major projects there in your pipe-line? How optimistic you guys are about them?
Ans: We’re currently working on the production of 5 new songs and we’re planning to release them as singles. The arrangement and the production of these tracks is very sophisticated, and this, for us, will hopefully be a big step closer to our kinda people.
- Storeys Unknown-your first EP and the original number ‘Rebel’ earned quite popularity on web-space and TV channels. How do you plan to strengthen your presence in this cut-throat industry in India and abroad?
Ans: The launching of the EP and Rebel gaining some ground in the scene here surely was a confidence booster for us. Currently we are planning on releasing singles one after the other with short intervals, and in between, trying to get radio plays in the US and India. We are also inviting major publications to help spread the word. The tracks that will be released this year will see a major change in comparison to the the kind of song arrangements we did initially. It’s going to be very vocal centric. Hopefully, the masses are going to like it.
- What are your favorite English rock bands? Which genre and why it inspires you the most?
Ans: My only favourite is Radiohead. They are into psychedelic/ alternative rock. They are absolute pioneers in what they do and have made a name for themselves. They have come up with such awesome songs, their lyrics, and the song arrangement, there’s always something to explore and learn from in their song arrangements. You don’t compare Radiohead with no one. Period.
- Any message in particular for the prevalent alternative music scene in India ?
Ans: I am really happy with the way the scene is shaping up here in India. The only message I’d like to send out would be “Stay original”.
- Favourite venue in India to perform : jam packed @ JLN stadium in Delhi, one day.
- Maximum number of hours spent, for an in-house jamming so far ? : 6 hours.
- A skill as a musician you wish you had or could have learnt in your journey, so far ? : Performing skills !
- If you are given a choice in life, what would you have loved to be, apart as a musician ? : A writer.
- What tickles your funny bone? : The kind of jokes that I get at once.
- One trendy, young app that you can’t get the hang off : Snapchat.
- One technological advancement you wish you could have banned ? : Phone cameras.
- A famous personality you wish to photograph. : Gwen Stefani.
- A romantic gesture that never goes out of fashion. : A flying kiss. I think so !
- One life lesson you’d give to the young fellow musicians : Let there be a price attached to your services, at all stages.
Sonali Vij – A SINGER | SONG WRITER | PRODUCER
|Birthday: 30 March||First Performance: Pre School|
|High Point of Your Life: When I finally put my EP together and saw my songs listed on iTunes|
|Hometown: New Delhi||Low Point of Your Life: Not Yet!|
|School / College: St. Thomas / St. Zaviers, New Delhi||Sun Sign: Aries|
– PUB-Licly with Sayan Chatterjee