Grammy-winning singer Imogen Heap brings her passion for creating unusual soundscapes to a collaborative song with Vishal Dadlani
Having only three days to compose and record a song was a steep challenge for Grammy-winning singer Imogen Heap. I wasnt sure how we were going to do it, admits the British musician. But like all the other challenges shes faced in a nearly 15-year-long career teaching herself music engineering and production are just two of them Heap met this one headlong. I went almost 40 hours without sleep; it was an intense experience, she exclaims. The track,recorded in collaboration with Vishal Dadlani,was composed in 72 hours. We went to a shop of musical instruments in Jaipur,where the owner played some music for us. We recorded that for use. I danced wearing ankle bells and played the harmonium. There was a crowd gathered outside the shop and we got them to sing in chorus. Those too were recorded, says Heap,who is also one half of the British electronic duo,Frou Frou.
Tall and with a beret on her head,the singer-songwriter-composer,cuts a striking figure as she nurses a drink at Prithvi Theatres cafe. She landed in India to record her collaboration for the track Mind Without Fear,which has been composed for an online travel show,The Dewarists. Presented by Scottish brand Dewars,the show is part-musical documentary and part-travelogue,where two artistes from different musical genres travel to a destination and create music that is representative of both their styles. Dadlani and Heap travelled to Samode Palace near Jaipur to work on a song inspired by Rabindranath Tagores poem,Where the Mind is Without Fear.
Heap has always had a penchant for hearing the potential in unremarkable,mundane sounds. Her song My Secret Friend,for instance,uses the sizzle of a frying pan. This willingness to experiment goes well with the philosophy of the show,she says,which is to follow ones passion and instincts. In fact,the track will eventually form a part of a highly conceptual album that Heap is already working on. Every three months,Ill release a track that has been recorded over a two-month period. Each is a mini-musical ecosystem. The first track,Lifeline,for instance,was created in collaboration with my fans. Another song,Propeller Seeds,is a spatial and immersive song,thanks to the 3D effect. It means that if I have used the sound of people talking,you will feel like youre right next to them, says Heap. The album will be released in 2012 and the videos for all the songs will eventually be used to create a film.
The completion of Mind Without Fear is not the end of Heaps tryst with India. Shell be back in November to perform at the NH7 Weekender. I want to return to India after that too, she says,Ive heard about the good work that some people are putting in Indian music and I would definitely like to be more involved and support the movement.