One To Watch for 2020…
Emerging British Indo-Jazz artist Unnati, has released the video for upcoming single “Ye Raatein”, ahead of the release of her debut album “Indigo Soul”, which is due on 28th February.
Unnati’s international music is a crossover of Indian classical, jazz & spiritual, while retaining other elements of Western music reflecting her British-Indian heritage.
“Ye Raatein” is a Hindi pop ballad that features jangly guitars, propulsive kit drums and promises of love – mostly unrequited. Produced by Diamond Duggal, who has previously worked with the likes of Shania Twain.
There are original songs grounded in Indian classical, Sufi and the spirituality of bhajan devotional songs across the album, sprinkled with Latin, jazz and pop arrangements by producers chosen for their empathy with Indian music, as well as their cross-genre values.
Other producers and musicians to appear across the record include Xan Blacq (Amy Winehouse), Gordon Hulbert (Anastacia, Alison Limerick), and the Budapest Film Orchestra, contributing to the musical and cultural fusion.
This combination of tradition and modernity meet and merge throughout “Indigo Soul”, as they have throughout Unnati’s life. The eldest of two daughters, Unnati grew up in Finchley, North London, in a house busy with visitors including famous artists and students of her father Nitai Dasgupta, the late iconic singer of Indian classical music royalty. Sitar legend Ravi Shakar was a close friend of her father’s.
Nitai Dasgupta (1934 – 2003) was a Bengali who emigrated to London with her mother, a Gujarati, from Kenya in the 1960s. Nitai was a pioneer, performer, teacher and recording artist among the first to bring Indian classical music to Britain.
His cult 1972 LP “Songs of India” was recently re-issued, delighting the likes of electronic wiz Keiran Hebden, aka Four Tet, who discovered the record in his grandfather’s vinyl collection and featured the track “Cham Cham Cham Cham” on his NTS radio show.
Taking the musical legacy of her father and tailoring the traditional with her own contemporary slant, the British-born singer, composer and musician has been working live for some time – in Soho jazz clubs, the Royal Albert Hall and on the main stage at the famed WOMAD festival.
Honing her chops and building a solid reputation with her talents, working toward the moment she could drop her first album. It’s almost here…
“I see music as energy,” says Unnati. “I don’t recognise barriers of genre or language. I see my music as spiritual energy & I enjoy mixing various music genres, both traditional & contemporary – especially given that I have been raised in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.”
“Indigo Soul” is named after the colour of the ajana ‘third eye’ chakra, the site of intuition and generator of creativity. It is also a reference to the concept of ‘indigo children’, the notion that there are those more imaginative than most, who have been put upon this earth to change it.
Alongside Unnati on the debut album are musicians on traditional Indian instruments including tabla and the bamboo bansuri flute.
The first single to be taken from the album was “Teri Yaad Aati Hain (I Remember You)”, a track selected by DJ Ravin to feature on Buddha Bar’s Ultimate Collection, part of an internationally acclaimed series of compilation albums. (You can hear that track, below, and see the video to the current single).
Many of Unnati’s compositions are based on ragas, the melodic foundation of Indian classical music.
Unnati made her live debut aged four before a crowd of 3,000 people, at Watford’s Bhaktivedanta Manor, which ex-Beatle George Harrison gave to the Hare Krishnas.
Her influences reflect her upbringing and locale: Ravi Shankar, Sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, the great Sufi singers Abida Parveen and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and then contemporary “pop” artists Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Esperanza Spalding and Dua Lipa.
“I love traditional Indian music, but as a young person I like to experiment and use the influences I’ve grown up around. I’ve condensed all of this into a crossover album that is unlike anything out there.”
Hear first single “Teri Yaad Aati Hain” here:
See the video to new single “Ye Raatein” here: