As you sink further below, you start hearing bells. There’s no one beside you, it’s dark this deep down, but you’re bursting with light. There’s so much you’ve been meaning to say but you don’t. You end up compressing months and months of feeling isolated into a few songs. You release them to the world. Maybe, someone somewhere will feel better knowing they’re not alone. People have felt this way before. People will feel this way after. Damini Chauhan aka Krameri released her debut EP ‘By The Sea’ earlier this year.
The breed of musicians whose music makes you feel something instantly may be becoming scarcer but Krameri is definitely one of them. A faint but unforgettable voice, beautifully crafted melodies mixed with low-tempo electronica and a penchant for mysterious yet heartfelt lyrics, Krameri does what a lot of artists refuse to do. Lay themselves bare open. With the release of her 5 track, delicate EP ‘By The Sea’, Krameri showcases her knack for songwriting. Lost love, endless waiting, isolations, the feeling of sitting alone by the sea, are just some of the themes she plays with on the EP. With the help of Delhi based electronic music producer Vridian and Chennai based producer 6091, Krameri has put out an authentic-sounding record, one which sounds like no one but her, right at the beginning of her career.
We got in touch with Damini to know more about her and the project. Read below.
Q.1 Where are you from? What do your parents do? Are they into music too?
I am from Vadodara, Gujarat. My parents are not musicians; they aren’t really inclined towards music. My mother used to teach English literature at a university; so I grew up reading a lot of books and even as a child I was always writing a lot…I used to write a diary in which I also wrote poems and songs. My father is a doctor.
Q.2 Tell us about your childhood. How did you get involved into making music?
I always loved singing and I also used to write songs. I initially joined KM Music conservatory in Chennai one summer for a short one month piano course; and I really enjoyed it because of the faculty and my peers, which led me to pursuing a full-time degree course. I didn’t really know anything about music production/ theory/composition/piano playing prior to joining the school. It was just something that I was interested in, and wished to know more about. I met my friend Gopi Krishnan there, who had been producing music for a long time and together, we produced an album (Dreams of A Unicorn) in 2017. This was the first release; after which I released 2 singles – Golden Dust and Dead Roses; and an EP (by the sea) after that. (I am currently working on an album!)
Q.3 How did your debut release come about?
My EP by the sea was a long time in the making; some of the songs were written almost two years ago; I wrote sinking ships in 2017, lurker and calling off games in 2018 and watch my city burn down and deep blue sea in 2019…and then I realized that all of them had the same type of aesthetic, or were related to the sea somehow. I think I was inspired by the Chennai monsoon (which is where I was 2017-18), and its weird soundscapes and landscapes (which inspired the lofi aesthetic), and by gloomy British weather (from when I was in London in 2019 and wrote the other 2 songs in the EP).
I had worked a bit on these songs sometime in 2018 with Vir, (@vridian_music) who co-produced Lurker and calling off games; He did a great job with processing the vocals and giving them a vintage feel; then my friend Gopi (@6091musicofficial) worked on sinking ships in 2018; my friend Sahil offered to mix and master all of them; my friend Rajat Gajjar did the amazing artwork for it, taking the picture from his place in Bombay and making a print; and it all just came together somehow finally in 2020.
Q.4 What is your music all about?
My songs are about my experiences and emotions. My aim is to communicate and connect with other people; Every song has a theme and story behind it. Even when I make an EP or album, I think a lot about what the overall thread is, what color it is, what the narrative behind it is. Sometimes, I try and capture something abstract and sometimes, I channel and write about very direct emotions/experiences. For example, the song Golden Dust is about the early stages of an innocent but all-consuming crush, when, at the beginning, this unrequited affection for someone feels good, like a delicious secret and it doesn’t matter if it is unreciprocated because it is yours, and you are filled with love. Dead Roses is about having a lot of rebounds. The song Calling Off Games from my EP By the Sea is about something more abstract like an abandoned bench under a street light and cobwebs and stuff like that; But the overall thread of the EP was isolation, depression…exploring feelings of melancholy and yearning. The song Lurker is about feeling completely psychotic; I imagined that I was a crazy old woman and wrote it.
Q.5 What is your music-making process like?
For me, the lyrics and melody come first and then I structure and produce everything around it. I mostly get random ideas that I record on my phone and I have thousands of embarrassing recordings of me humming something that only I can understand enough to stretch out and make into a song later on.
Q.6 Which are your favorite lyricists/writers/philosophers?
I really like Alt-J’s un-understandable lyrics; what I like about it is the use of really interesting, unusual words. I grew up listening to Taylor Swift and I admire her storytelling ability too. Lorde is great too.
I recently read Yuval Noah Harari’s trilogy (Sapiens) and thought it was fantastic; it is non-musical but his ideas about the self in the third book were really interesting and I wrote a song about it; which will be in the next album.
I follow the teachings of Om Swami, he is a meditation expert and monk; he writes a blog at https://os.me/. I follow his mediation techniques. I also follow Sadhguru’s yoga programs.
Q.7 What do you think about the society we live in these days?
This is a really broad question; there is a lot to say about a lot of things. When it comes to Indian society, specifically, I feel optimistic though, seeing the youth really taking over and making their presence in all arenas- even when it comes to music, I am constantly surprised almost on a daily basis to find new talented Indian artists with such refreshing new sounds, which is a combination of such diverse influences resulting in music like never before. I think young Indians are making such interesting music because we have grown up with so many varied influences; India is a country of color and vibrance, we are born into being accustomed to crowds, sounds and all kinds of people. On top of that, we are exposed to western culture and music, so when we tell our stories, they are quite fresh; and it is time that we got to tell them too.
Q.8 Which Indian bands/artists do you admire?
I just discovered Bawari Basanti; she has such an incredible voice and compositions; Sanoli Chowdhury has an angelic voice and a very distinct sound, which transports you to a different space. I can say the same about Karshni; she’s amazing and very clever with lyrics.