New Delhi – Contemporary New York-based musician and songwriter Shubh Saran will release his second full-length album – fourth overall release – titled “Inglish” on October 29th.
The album was the culmination of a creative process that began shortly after the Covid-19 lockdown when Saran returned to the United States after briefly touring his new EP Becoming in the United States and India. It was around this time that Saran quickly began writing and recording demos for what would eventually turn into English.
The new album explores new musical territory, as Saran incorporates for the first time predominant instruments from India and the Middle East, merging sounds of modern jazz, neo-soul and rock with classical Indian music. and contemporary.
English as a work illustrates both his creative approach and his background. Throughout his life, having to assimilate to different cultures has been a common theme for Saran, and English is a reflection of this progression and evolution. Dealing with culture and language changes has been a repeated experience for the Indian artist, who has lived all over the world in places like New Delhi, Dhaka, Cairo, Geneva, Toronto, Boston and New York.
“I wanted to find a metaphor for this idea of existing in the world where you’re trying to navigate a global culture while still navigating your own culture and your home culture,” he says. The first single “postradition” – which comes out on October 1 – attempts to unravel the idea of tradition in a new modern world. “What does a world that has no tradition look like, where many of the cultural things we hold dear no longer exist. It’s kind of a thought experiment, like what happens when crops are erased or replaced, ”says Saran, who was in India just before the country’s lockdown in early 2020.
The term “English” – a coat rack from the late 1900s – describes Indian English, a variety of the English language spoken in India and by the Indian Diaspora. It is a form of dialect that has shown similarities to British English, brought in by British colonization, but has become an amalgamation of Indian and Western culture. This duality has been at the center of Saran’s most recent musical research and exploration, and it is something he has experienced firsthand.
“Over the past few decades, Indian English has taken on a life of its own, with a lot of influence from regional languages and dialects, and a mix of ‘Queen’s English’,” said Saran, reflecting on the connection between the title of the album and its anthropological history.
While language is a big part of the inspiration for English, reflection on personal identity and the tension between trying to retain one’s own native language and customs while living in non-indigenous territories is also present. The unboxing of how traditions and cultures are passed down from generation to generation, and the true origins of these artifacts, was also at the forefront of Saran’s mind when writing and recording the English.
“It was interesting to see that the origins of many of my own internal prejudices about being Indian and Indian identity did not actually seem to come from Indian culture, but actually came from external sources,” explains Saran. “What ends up happening, I believe, is that the narratives and the prejudices are internalized by the community and then sort of fed back into the community as a feedback loop.”
Inglish is a multi-layered album that explores concepts of identity far beyond music. As people continue to think, move and grow on a global scale, the essence of Indigenous culture and identity is called into question, but still remains critically important. For Shubh Saran, English is a long message that pays homage to the difficult process of assimilation while embracing your own culture. (IANS)