‘Qareeb’, which will be released on Artist Originals, also marks her first-ever release in Hindi; stop-motion animation video created by Arsh Grewal accompanies the release
Delhi-based singer-songwriter Kamakshi Khanna in the past three years moved to Mumbai to boost her musical career, added teacher to her list of accomplishments and wrote her first Hindi song. The Cakewalk singer carries forth her vulnerable yet poised style to ‘Qareeb’, a song that celebrates self-love.
‘Qareeb’ released on Artist Originals, JioSaavn’s hit-breaking label for global South Asian artistes, on 15 October.
For Kamakshi, ‘Qareeb’ is special in many ways. For one, it’s her first-ever attempt at writing a Hindi song, and her first release in over three years – since her debut album Cakewalk released in 2017. But also, inherently personal. She offers a peek into her mind when she says, “I wrote this song when I was in a relationship where I was constantly neglecting my needs and the things that I stand for. I wanted to take the same emotion to pay gratitude for how much love teaches us about the world, about giving and how letting go helps us rediscover ourselves in new ways each time.”
From her first EP Much Mellow to her latest single ‘Qareeb’, Kamakshi has looked to her life and lived experiences for inspiration and woven them into musical motifs that are relatable and authentic. Inspired equally by jazz and R&B as well as by pop and Hindustani classical, Kamakshi’s journey since her debut in 2015 has been one of innovation and reinvention, culminating in ‘Qareeb’, a song about self-care and emotional growth.
“‘Qareeb’ is an expression of gratitude for every opportunity to love and underlines the message that the most important relationship is the one that you have with yourself,” says Kamakshi of the song that was released on 15 October.
‘Qareeb’ is also a song that was borne out of a failed submission.
“A friend called me about this great opportunity for female singer-songwriters who write in Hindi and I had a day to put a song together,” she recalls how the radio-friendly tune came to be. “I wrote the verses and chorus in about an hour and quickly whipped up a recording with my ukulele and voice and sent it ahead. Thankfully, it got rejected and I spent the next few months working on the song with guitarist Pranav Pahwa, who has played on every track that I’ve released so far. One day while working on Anhad + Tanner’s album at Anhad’s studio, I played them my new rough Hindi demo. One thing led to another and a session and hang with my friends became the song that you’re hearing today,” Kamakshi, who is now back in Delhi, adds.
Kamakshi featured on a track called ‘Gum’ on Anhad + Tanner’s debut album, In Other Words, and the duo have also produced ‘Qareeb’.
The R&B influence in ‘Qareeb’ is unmistakable but the lyrics and melody hark back to the 90s indie-pop phase that was the rage in India then, lending the song a distinctive, earworm-like quality.
The song release is accompanied by an endearing animated video, created by Arsh Grewal, who connected with Kamakshi on social media and the two ideated and conceptualised the video over Whatsapp, Zoom calls and Google Doc chats during lockdown.
“Every detail and character that you see in the video is handmade and cut out using felt cloth, a technique that’s rather rare in the world of animation. The video takes you through a girl’s journey of changes and how the romantic partners that she encounters along the way help her transform into finally being her own person. Arsh translated the narrative in the most seamless and beautiful way into a visual space that is unexplored and exciting for me as an artist,” offers Kamakshi on the video and the process of creation behind the video.
Listen to ‘Qareeb’ on JioSaavn now.
You can also watch the video here:
‘Qareeb’ is available on all streaming platforms 15 October onwards.