INTERVIEW: NYC’s Shonali Bhowmik

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

Outside of a global pandemic threatening all of our lives, a beyond stressful election cycle, intense social strife, and the resulting existential crisis we are all facing today, I am doing well. Ha! I am healthy and that alone makes me feel so grateful.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “I’ll Be Your Therapy”?

I wrote and released this song as a response to the tumultuous times in which we are living.

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

As we all do our best to cope with our new way of life, I personally found myself feeling unfocused, anxious, and unable to create music or art for a good part of this time. I do my best to appreciate the small things because the big picture is overwhelming. In a fleeting moment, I was able to find some calm. I used the process of writing this song as a reminder to myself and to my friends that it is good to check out of the news cycle & social media once in a while and that we must actively take the time to take care of ourselves.

You released a DIY video for the track – how’d that come together?

I used a similar DIY approach in creating the video for this song as I did in recording the song. I edited my own video clips which come from iPhone videos I shot recently from February 2020 when I was in Italy, here in NYC & also DC during the pandemic.  My only intention behind shooting these moments was to capture the beauty that exists around us.  It struck me later that these clips would make a great video for the song. 

How was the recording and writing process?

I really attempted to not overthink the process by writing and recording it within a few days and using sparse instrumentation.  I used my Garageband to record the bass, guitars, drums & vocals.  I enjoyed letting go and not picking the song apart as is the usual recording process for most artists.

What role does NYC play in your music? 

NYC has always been a huge inspiration to me overall as an artist.  We feel so many things at one time as a result of living here.  The energy, the movement, the vibrance of so many different people coming together in one small place to live, work and play provides such an incredible backdrop for art, especially music.  NYC is a nonstop inspiration for art in normal times but then with the added intensity which comes from living here during this time of social strife within a global pandemic, when the highs and lows of our crisis which have come fast and hard, that inspiration becomes amplified. The feeling of being vulnerable, not knowing what is going to happen next, the depths of the division in the U.S., the financial instability are definitely the fodder for great songwriting which ultimately can result in healing for both the artist and the listener. 

How has COVID impacted the scene?

As has happened for almost every industry, Covid 19 has impacted the music industry in a significant way both financially and spiritually.   Musicians are no longer able to perform live and in turn, we are no longer able to witness live performances which are both things I’ve been doing since I was a kid.   Zoom performances were all the rage early on during the pandemic and were a good way to keep us connected but they in no way replaced the energy of a live performance.   Now that we are all incredibly tired of staring at a screen  I don’t do many live virtual performances.  Hopefully, we all can use this time to get reacquainted with ourselves and also make new artistic discoveries.

Being also a comedian and a filmmaker – how do these influence your music?

Every aspect of who I am and what I do informs me as an artist.  I came to comedy and filmmaking after music and I can say that at the least, working in these different mediums keeps everything fresh for me as an artist.  If I am tired of writing a script, I take a break, sit on the couch and play my guitar to clear my brain.  I try to open myself up to whatever may come from that moment. 

Your sound has been compared to Phoebe Bridges and Girl In Red. Who/what has influenced your writing?

I love both of those artists.  When I started performing live, I believed that because “the boys” would expect me to write a sappy love song, I had to prove I could do more and I performed heavier music.  It’s all so silly.  It took me a while to realize I should just play whatever type of music I feel like playing.  I would say that some of the pioneers of alternative rock music such as Alex Chilton, The Pixies and PJ Harvey have definitely influenced my writing. 

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material –if so, how’s that coming along.

Yes, my goal is to continue to write and record music in the same vein as “I’ll Be Your Therapy,” meaning not to overthink and use a sparse and barebones approach.  I hope to release an EP of songs from these recordings perhaps called “Pandemic Dreams.” I have had the weirdest dreams during this time. I would love to have a dream analyst help me understand them because they have been bizarre!  If I started to describe them to you now it would take forever and you would become disturbed, so I will give you the gift of not putting you through that!

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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