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Shourya Malhotra: ‘When I Knew Less, I Was Amazed More Often’

Meenaz Amreliwala
Meenaz Amreliwala Classical

The conversation spans a sneak-peek into his previous song ‘Courtyards’, whether formal education in music is  “advantageous”, and his musical journey so far.

"Courtyards" is a beautiful and soulful acoustic ballad by Indian singer-songwriter Shourya Malhotra, featuring vocalist Rini Rajput. Varun Rajput, who is the frontman of the Indian rock band, Antariksh, took on multiple roles in producing the music, as he was in charge of mixing, playing the keyboard, drums, bass guitar, and programming. The song was released in September 2022, and it quickly garnered attention and praise for its soulful melody and poignant lyrics.

The song tells the story from the perspective of an aged man reminiscing who has been separated from his home by time and distance, but who still holds onto his memories of his childhood and village. The lyrics are full of nostalgia and longing, and the beautiful harmonies between Shourya and Rini add an ethereal quality to the song.

The song has a unique sound that blends Indian classical music with rock. The instrumentation is primarily acoustic guitar, with subtle percussion and atmospheric soundscapes adding depth and texture to the track. The production is minimalistic, allowing the focus to remain on the vocals and lyrics.

It starts off with a more modern rock music intro with acoustic & electric guitars and drums before transitioning into classical Indian sound featuring indie-folk elements. Rini Rajput's vocals add a haunting and emotional quality to the song, which is about longing to visit home to relive the sweetest memories of the past. The mellifluous quality of a soothing voice, coupled with the consonance and harmony of sounds, evoke a sense of nostalgia by transporting you back in time. This combination of tonality and peacefulness creates an easy listening experience.

The music video for "Courtyards" features Tirthaman Pun, and Agad Pun going through countryside and in and around a beautiful, old home made with mud and supported by bamboo structure. The video also features shots of them walking through courtyards and doorways, which adds to the song's theme of longing and nostalgia.

Overall, "Courtyards" is a beautiful and emotive piece of music that showcases Shourya's talents as a singer-songwriter and his ability to evoke powerful emotions through his voice.This song is a striking example of how various music genres and styles can be blended together to create something exceptional and powerful.

Well, this is what we feel. Do listen to the song and tell us what you feel!

We caught up with Shourya Malhotra for a quick chat, a couple of weeks ago, and here’s how it went!

1) What’s your backstory? Tell us everything about you i.e how did you get into singing, the instruments you play, when and how you learned them etc. Feel free to go into as much or as little detail as you want!

Hmmm! How do I begin? I'm a practicing lawyer, a heavy metal vocalist, and a singer-songwriter. My passion for music began in high school when I became a metal singer and I started my career as a musician. When I started law school, I formed a band called Trigger, and we competed in numerous college competitions and played a few headlining shows. In addition, I picked up the acoustic guitar at this time in order to cover songs by artists I'd been listening to like Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, etc. After graduating from law school in 2015, I began practicing law. Due to the demanding nature of the legal profession, music naturally took a back seat. While the band occasionally played shows and released new music, my focus was primarily on my law practice. Toward the end of 2020, I was working with a law firm in Delhi and contemplating how to get back into music. The realization that I hadn't touched my acoustic guitar in over 3 years dawned on me and I felt that a lot was missing from what I wanted from life. Therefore, in December 2019, just before the pandemic hit, I quit my law firm and started playing the guitar again. I started writing a lot of music again, as I did when I was in college, and released my first song in Feb 2022. It took me 2 years of convincing myself that I could build a career as a singer-songwriter and release my original music because I was so unsure of my talent and the financial prospects for musicians in India. I am glad to have taken that decision because the process of writing music and putting it out there in the world has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life and I am incredibly grateful for the privilege of being able to do this. Even though I am not a trained guitarist, pianist or vocalist, I love learning a new skill and get very addicted to the prospect of learning something new.

2) We loved the track, it almost feels like the guitar is singing to us. There are 'verses', 'choruses', 'bridges' and all. Few manage to achieve a 'full' track in this way. Tell us about your process and those involved in making this happen.

Thank you! I appreciate you saying that because I love narrating a story through my guitar melodies. I think this year, a skill that I've worked on actively is learning how to build dynamic, fluid, and cogent studio versions of the raw song ideas I write on the acoustic guitar. A huge teacher in this process for me has been Varun Rajput (Frontman and founder of the band, Antariksh). Varun produces, mixes and masters my songs and helps me with the pre-production process too! I've been playing my original songs with some really good musicians like Paras Khanna, Elijah Peter, etc. and they've also helped me a lot to understand how I can add elements to my music without overdoing it and eventually losing the spirit of the original idea.

3) Are there any advantages of a formal education in music, in your opinion?

Absolutely! No doubt you can make incredible music without formal education, but I think formal music training can make that process much easier. Having said that, I do believe that when I knew less, I was amazed more often. When we don't know what we're doing, we judge our music solely on how it sounds instead of how common/ uncomplicated it is for someone who knows the theory behind the music. 

4) Tell us about Courtyards. It’s a mixture of longing, nostalgia, reminiscing of the past. So how does that fit into things with you?

I wrote Courtyards as an homage to my home. A home full of dog barks, loud noises, excessive food, and even more love. I think I wrote the whole song in about an hour and kept it very simple. I wanted to talk about my home through the story of someone who comes back to his home after a long time away and realises that wherever you go, however far you travel, home is where your heart and peace lies.