Sanjeeta Bhattacharya is often described as an independent Delhi-based jazz musician. The first feature single off her upcoming EP Yatra was well received by those who followed her musical endeavours on youtube or had the soulful experience of watching her live in their city. Even Rolling Stone India acknowledged her presence in the music circuit and wrote about the single titled I Will Wait – “The solemn track interplays light guitar parts and string arrangements that compliment Bhattacharya’s vocals to the tee.” Being explicitly open about the fact that she doesn’t play an instrument, Sanjeeta’s songwriting and voice has interpreted languages and styles from all over the world. For the 23-year old singer, who is the daughter of artist Sanjay Bhattacharya, deciding to pursue music was the result of her attending Berkelee summer school for two consecutive years. “I knew it was a long shot,” she sayss,revealing that she had a sore throat while auditioning for Berkelee’s prestigious music programme.
However, from being a skeptical teenager passionate about her art to being an independent singer currently touring the country, she’s come a long way. “I started music with Indian classical, then explored RnB, Jazz, Latin, Flamenco and even Balkan Folk music. My major allowed me to take part in many ensembles, and I realised that the inflections of Flamenco were really similar to Hindustani classical,” she shares. Sanjeeta is said to have learnt Kathak as a child. When you listen to Sanjeeta’s music, it’s apparent that her voice isn’t meant for just similarly written songs. Her versatility is perhaps also why she doesn’t like being put into ‘the niche category of a Jazz singer’. “I feel like, and this is important, it requires years and years of training to be able to sing scat solos and be considered a jazz musician.”
Often musicians are staunch about the music they consume themselves, and are unforgiving about the respect they place on the influential artists of their genres, Sanjeeta is different. To a question about who her inspirations are, she says “It’s really hard. I used to look up to Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday and everyone- but growing up my taste changed.” Sanjeeta, belonging to a family of people dedicated to the arts, also brings up the recently palpable tension (residing in the middle of the #MeToo campaign for instance) between the often unusual relationship shared between the artist as a human being and as the maker of their art. “Many musicians I looked up to turned out to be terrible people, and I don’t understand that. There’s no way you’re a terrible person but a good musician.” She says.
Sanjeeta talks openly and unapologetically about her music and isn’t shy of recognising the reason why not all genres get the appreciation from the larger public. While speaking of Indian classical and how the Indian audience interprets it, she expresses, “We take it for granted; this generation doesn’t appreciate it and neither did I, but music needs to be relevant to the times we’re living in,” she adds. We speak of having respect for generation-long traditions but in the same breath she brings up Trump as a testament to thoughtlessly conforming to its ideals. “I’m just saying blindly following tradition is not good,” she believes. Her music comes from a place of diverse traditions and she recognises the need to celebrate and adapt diversity in music- of the current spreading Indian Indie music scene she critiques, “We don’t write in our languages, so many are spoken in our country.” Sanjeeta is insightful as she is talented and it reflects in the way she sings and writes her music.
Chartbusting numbers you should add to your playlist!
1 Nice For What
2 God’s Plan
3 Meant To Be
Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line
Post Malone ft Ty Dolla $ign
5 The Middle
Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey
6 Look Alive
BlocBoy JB Featuring Drake
8 Freaky Friday
Lil Dicky Featuring Chris Brown
9 I Like It
Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin