WHO Kolkata-born Tritha Sinha juggles three musical outfits – the solo/ acoustic TRITHA, her ethnopunk band Tritha Electric, and her Hindustani trip-hop band SPACE. She shuttles between Delhi, Kolkata and Paris, experimenting with different kinds of music.
How has your family influenced your music?
We’re a typical Bengali family – we love eating fish and listening to music. My grandfather wanted a girl in the family to be a singer. When I was five my parents introduced me to an Indian classical music guru. I opted for music over medicine; my parents were persuaded because I was very serious about it. I’ve been supporting myself from the age of 17 doing music. I react almost physically to it, which propels me to sing and compose.
A childhood memory?
I sang Tagore in my own way, at the age of eight, in front of horrified aunties who’d been singing Rabindra Sangeet the way it’s been sung for 50 years.
What is ethno-punk?
Ethno comes from my Indian classical roots and baul influences. Punk is an expression of my struggles and frustrations looking for independence as a woman in India. I conceptualised this with Paul Schneiter, a French drummer and producer, for my new outfit Tritha Electric.
Instruments you play?
In Tritha Electric, I play the electric guitar; use a looper and a delay-effects voice processor. My electric tanpura, the mandira, and some percussion are a constant presence. I also picked up a kazoo from Paris — it’s my mini saxophone.
How has travelling influenced you?
Living in Paris, jamming with underground jazz musicians and travelling around Europe for the last seven summers has helped me integrate African beats, trip-hop and punk in my original songs. I go back to Kolkata to rejuvenate my knowledge of classical Indian music.
Tell us about your song Pagli.
A sound engineer in Paris wanted to hear me rap in Bengali. I imagined myself as a madwoman in the streets of Kolkata, took on that role and started singing like her. I’m going to make an album of it adding more songs. A new pagli song is a punk one called Fish Market.
This interview appeared in the June 30th issue (no. 26) of Tehelka magazine.