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Sanaya Ardeshir A.K.A Sundunes On The Kind Of Music She Makes: I Am Trying To, Through Music, Create Embodied Experiences

One of the most sought-after Indie musicians in the country, Sanaya Ardeshir a.k.a Sundunes received truckloads of appreciation for her mesmerising performance at Lollapalooza earlier this year. Her impeccable career graph and the kind of momentum that she has had is almost inimitable. With more than five critically acclaimed EPs, one can tell that she is on to greater stuff and fans definitely cannot wait for that.

In an exclusive interaction with NW18, Sanaya opened up about her decision to change the kind of work she was doing earlier, her dreams for the indie music scene in the country, her interesting future plans and much more.

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One can very well remember you from your absolute jazz-heavy and key-playing days with extremely popular bands like STR and Resonance. What prompted you to change the direction of your sound?

I think there is a natural sort of rhythm and progression to a creative practice over time. It tends to evolve and expand and shapeshift and also I think there is a big component of as an artist responding to the world around you. Definitely, a lot of direction changes in my practices have come from technology. If there was new technology that enabled me to do certain things it would change the way I was using it, and it would change the way I was writing sounds, writing songs.

Do you in any way feel that your background in live music has left you better equipped and in command of the electronic live-act space that you are associated with now?

I definitely feel like I’ve been bred in bands as a player and as a musical thinker, and that has informed my process in the same way that anybody you know with any sort of people who are in music pedagogy or maybe like a different tradition like a Karnataka. Anything that you did your initial induction with will feed the output over time.

So definitely I think that having been like they didn’t jam bands and then rock bands and then jazz bands and funk and all of that. In fact, I think in many ways I’m doing a very poor job at integrating everything I have for a while. Toward the line of maybe a stylistic or a genre boundary that I foresee myself breaking in the future. So it would be great if all of the influences intertwined and then vomit themselves out as new music.

Over time and again you have spoken about how a workflow on a laptop and composing on a piano are two very different feelings. Can you elaborate on that, please?

Absolutely this is very different because your visual feedback from producing on a laptop and what that means in terms of committing things in place, committing things to a grid, or even just sort of, you know, once it’s in your DAW, it’s a bit more difficult to think of ideas as cheap because you’ve already inputted them. And maybe that’s just me, but I feel like writing on the piano is much more ephemeral. It’s way more in the moment.

There is no guarantee that I’ll be able to recall what I’ve played or played again in the same way. Particularly when it’s just like noodling and dying things and there is a physical response because it’s a mechanical instrument, there is little physical feedback. Pressing down a, you know, wooden things that have a reaction and make a metallic thing hit a string. So like that. That note to hammer to string relationship is so tactile, it just creates a very different embodied process that I really adore.

I cannot write all my music on a piano though, because sometimes I’m trying to write something that’s housey and I need, you know, synthesizers and I want the feeling of knobs and faders. As a tactile surface instead, but they are both. I would highly recommend both. Both approaches.

If you had to explain to someone the kind of music that you do, how would you describe it?

It would take me a long time to describe it. Um, more recently I was using the word emotional a lot. But I think I was just like, I’m trying to make emotional music now. Either, you know, that’s sort of for you to interpret whether that’s technically emotional, it is a very broad word and it encompasses so many things, but more recently I think I would say that I’m trying to, through music, create embodied experiences.

I don’t know if I myself have fully fleshed out what that means, but the words that come out are integrated, and relational. Tangible, but also femoral. Ohh, I don’t know man. Music is magic. It’s very difficult to articulate it. Language falls short and I guess therefore we lean into music.

How have you evolved as a musician ever since you first released your music and started playing for an audience?

I hope I have evolved. I hope I have become a bit more mature and a little bit more self-respecting and savvy in a way that you know, it’s difficult I think as a space to be a source of income and to be a stable umbrella for the work that you do. And I feel very grateful that I have resided in it for a long time. And finally, I feel like I’m only just beginning to. I don’t know. I just feel like I’m at the beginning again, so.

Over the last couple of years, what are some of the changes that you have seen being implemented in the Indie music scene in the country?

Well, post-pandemic I feel like I’m seeing not a return to what the way to the way things were, but a very new frontier, new almost like a new culture has blossomed and there is a lot more volume, but there’s also a little bit more of an attitude of support and room for expansion and I see expansion I really sort of mean development like developing practice more infrastructure more you know, artists will only be able to outdo themselves if they are in a space or opportunity or set of circumstances that allow them to expand what they were doing previously.

And I think that’s beginning to happen. I think it is a very interesting time. I’m really looking forward to the advent of mixed reality performances and I don’t think there’s enough of that happening but there is lot in the crossover between installation art and live performance and live electronic music. It has a special home in that intersection it’s exciting

You’ll be performing at Sauce, what can fans expect from your set?

They can expect surprises, they can expect a great mood. They can expect a release of Serotonin and Endorphins. And actually, I don’t know, maybe they shouldn’t come expecting anything because there’s a lot of new music, unreleased music that’s going to be performed. So it’s kind of like these shows are one-time only, this sort of thing won’t happen again.

What lies ahead of you? What more can we see coming our way from your side?

Two fully finished albums of music that I am very proud of. I wanted to say beautiful albums, but that’s a bit like a pat on my own back. Two albums that I am itching to release and I’m close to the point of releasing them in the pipes. A lot more music and a little bit of a lean into things that are new to us. New technologies, machine learning, spatial audio. I know these aren’t essentially new, but to expand stagecraft and performance such that those technologies are applied in a performance space is something that I hope to embody as a live performing act in the future.

What is your big hope and dream for the Indie music space in India?

In a way, my hope is kind of at the cross-section of idealism and a world of esoteric things. I truly believe in the creative process and approach for a modality for everything from healing to tolerance, expanding cerebral horizons. But I also think that there is a lot of work to be done in landscape equitable access.

We don’t do a lot in our local performance spaces to address disability. There is now quite a lot happening to address marginalized communities and create more inclusive spaces because, at the core of it, that is what music does because I genuinely feel that music has the power to facilitate those spaces and my hope is that my room becomes a metaphorical room for stronger futures.

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