“Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity,” wrote neurologist and author Oliver Sacks.
For a lot of people going through a tough phase in life, music becomes a form of catharsis. It allows you to feel emotions that might seem too overwhelming otherwise. In a way, it helps you drown out the voices around, even if for a little while. Personally, music helps me calm my nerves especially when I am struggling to sleep at night. Music has the ability to alter our mood and recognizing this aspect these homegrown artists are exploring mental health through their own music.
Post-rock band Aswekeepsearching has always had an interesting soundscape that transposes the audience in their world. With their latest album Sleep the band has created an ambient soundscape for their fans that can help them calm down, relax and just sleep. The band says of the album, “We talked about making music that would put us to sleep (in that good way!). We began laying down initial ideas and in a month’s time, we finished recording eight songs. This is us looking inward more than ever, for mental wellness and a safe space for our and our fans’ minds.” The eight-track album has videos accompanying the songs that emote a story. The video for Sleep Now feels like taking a car ride with your head out the window and slowly drowsing to sleep and almost takes one back to their childhood when you would fall asleep in a car. The meditative album is a great listen for all those who struggle with sleep and even those who feel stressed out.
You can hear their music, here.
“Growing up, I struggled with a learning disorder and occasional self-esteem issues as well. Living in a closeted society that doesn’t acknowledge the gravity of mental health issues can feel suffocating” says Aashna Gulabani– the Mumbai-bred singer-songwriter who plays under the moniker of Kovsky. Her songs are an attempt to express herself better. “For starters, my single ‘Lonely’ casts light upon substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Tropes often glorified and aestheticised by pop culture,” says the singer whose songs are an attempt to navigate through the challenges of mental health. Her narrative rich music and her ability to tell a story through her music resonates with the audience.
You can listen to her music here.
Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Osho Jain is known for his simple lyricism that has the ability to tug at your heartstrings. Though the singer’s music has catchy and seemingly hopeful tunes, a closer introspection reveals the reflection and vulnerability that goes into the songs. His debut EP, Wahan tackles themes of loneliness, loss, love and abandonment. In the song Khud Se he sings, “Dekh kar bhi nahi dekhte hai, unse puchon kya khafa hai mujhse” (Even upon seeing me, they don’t acknowledge my presence. Are they upset with me?) exploring the dynamics of how it feels to be lonely and the fears it brings with it.
You can hear his songs, here.
Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Andrew Sabu’s (who goes by his last name as an artist) debut single Rest begins with the lyrics, “Picture this, it’s easier the path will clear in time, my dear. Take it slow, don’t bother anyone. Heal alone, on your own. I will rest” emphasising on the importance of taking time off and pacing our healing. Sabu’s mellow and comforting voice-over light guitar strings almost functions as a calming lullaby. Especially in the post-COVID world where we have all been forced to take a pause and re-evaluate our lives. Written during a dark place in his own life, Sabu’s self-titled four-track EP is a therapeutic listen for all those struggling with mental health issues. He tackles important themes like the importance of resting and the anxieties that burnout brings with itself. In his single, Sheets, he sings “... so sheets will comfort me as storms keep passing by.” With introspective lyrics and a mellow singing, his songs create an intimate and comforting environment.
“I take two steps in front and I’m right back to where I started”, sings Kolkata-bred artist Suyasha Sengupta (whose solo project is called ‘Plastic Parvati’) on Straight Outta Coshba – a song on her eight-track autobiographical album Songs About Lovers. The song ruminates on her struggle with depression and how healing is never a linear trajectory with some good days and some bad. Feeling a lack of female artists who explore themes of sexuality and mental health, the musician took it upon herself to create an album that is intimate, therapeutic and vulnerable. The artist’s musical sensibility can be classified as electro-pop and lo-fi where she bares her soul and is as honest as it can get in her writings.
You can hear her songs, here.
“MMJ (Mushkil Main Jeena) is a gentle reminder in a song that says, “don’t forget to live,” even as we cope with the fallout of the unprecedented pandemic. Chose life in your heart,” says Swarathma – a five-member Indian rock band– of their latest song that they released during the pandemic. The lyrics of the song go, “Mushkil mein jeena na bhoolo/ Koi geet sunte raho (during difficulties, don’t forget to live; keep listening to a song).” Their songs are sweet affirmations that are created with an attempt to lift the spirits of those listening and give them a sense of hope. Their previous albums also explore themes such as one’s inner path as in Raah-E-Fakira, a sense of uprootedness and not belonging as in Patte Saare and the masks we feel forced to wear in relationships as in Mukhote among others.
You can listen to the band’s entire discography, here.
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