INTERVIEW: Ranjana Ghatak

Hi Ranjana, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello! Thank you so much. I’m good thank you, like most people I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors and making the most of it through music and good food 🙂

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Mirabai’s Krishna “?

The single is taken from an album I recorded called The Butterfly Effect with Liran Donin and Jack Ross at Monnow Valley studios in Wales. The song was written by a 16th Century mystic called Mirabai. Her songs and words were said to open people’s hearts and provide healing to those that heard her. I grew up learning some of her songs. The themes of her songs are based around devotional love to something bigger than the human experience. In her case she expressed it to the deity Krishna. This single is using the lyrics of a poem she wrote. I composed the melody and worked on the arrangement with Jack and Liran.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The whole album was inspired by my experience of the cycle of endings and beginnings. This came in the form of relationships and moving from the UK to the states. Once I had opened up to the idea of moving I learnt to lean on trust and faith to move me through uncertain times. The words and songs of Mirabai feel like an old friend, and I find that they give me the strength to trust and keep an open heart.

Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?

Yes – I’m excited to be releasing a video for this on the 21st September.

The single comes off your new album The Butterfly Effect – what’s the story behind the title?

I started to notice the impact of individual healing on the larger collective whilst going through my own personal healing journey. I then came across the concept in chaos theory that the flap of a butterfly’s wings can be felt across the planet and even result in a tornado. I found it fascinating how this relates to our planet and how we live in a time where our voices and actions can impact the trajectory of how we grow and develop. This was the main inspiration behind the title.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was inspiring, frustrating and enjoyable all at the same time! My producer Liran Donin was super enthusiastic, open and patient to work with. We spent a lot of time in his studio trying out ideas and we also played a few shows (he played bass) together which helped us refine what works and what kind of sound we were going for. We were then invited to perform in Wigmore Hall in London and Jack Ross was invited to present the concert. Liran and I were looking for a guitarist to work with so when that project came up it all seem to fall into place.

What was it like to work with Liran Donin and how did that relationship develop?

I started performing with Liran a few years ago in a quartet that I had. I loved his sound and he always gave such good energy to the music. I was at a crossroads and he suggested I focus on a solo project. I had heard his work as a producer with Namvula and really liked how he had brought different musical influences together. So we moved from performing together to him taking on the role as producer. He’s super great to work with – clear, focused and full of good vibes.

How much did he get to influence the album?

Quite a bit, he has a lot of creative ideas that we tried out and it became quite clear through jamming what worked. Once Jack joined the process, the songs opened up even more and we all collectively had a similar mindset on what we liked. I chose the order of the songs as they were such a personal reflection of my journey and life at the time.

How did you go on balancing your classical roots with your much modern sensibilities on this album in particular?

I took some time to get to a place of creating music without separating the styles too much in my mind. I had experience of making music with different styles over the previous years which definitely helped in this project. I also got to a place of fully embracing my roots which helped me open to something new.

What role does London play in your music?

A huge role. I was born and raised in London and feel so fortunate to work there as an artist. London has gifted me a lot of wonderful opportunities to work with great artists and learn from visiting artists. A lot of my learning journey was supported by my Guru (master teacher – Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty) coming to London on tours every few years. I found the musical culture in London to be very supportive of collaboration and new music so this really assisted my explorations and work with Liran and Jack.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I researched different poets such as Mirabai and Kabir amongst others. I liked their messages of unity and viewing life through a broader perspective. I also wrote my own lyrics for 2 of the songs.

What else is happening next in Ranjana Ghatak’s world?

I have been teaching Indian Classical singing for the Chitresh Das Institute and the Ali Akbar College of Music in the Bay area, California which has been really enjoyable and rewarding. There is a lovely community of musicians and students in the area which is wonderful to be a part of. 

I’m excited about the album release on the 25th September and to finally share this music with people around the world.


About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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