Come from the land of so-called Bollywood sounds, NICHOLSON is a live electronica project from singer-songwriter Sohrab Nicholson and producer/multi-instrumentalist Rohan Rammana which bringing a breath of fresh air to the musical landscape in Mumbai, India. The project is started not long after Sohrab finishing his jazz piano study at St. Francis Xavier University in Canada. After a brief stint in UK, he went home to India along with his musical exploration of ambient electronic which he combines with the key harmony of jazz. His conquest to find music producer who can understand and enhance his music bringing him to Rohan, one of the founders of Cotton Press, a music studio in Mumbai with main focus is to support the local alternative scene. With the right chemistry of emotive vocal and transcendental ambient electronic, it doesn’t took a long time for them to gain positive recognition through their debut EP For What in 2014. Supported by hypnotizing live performance and cinematic music video for singles like “Cold Water” and “For What II”, NICHOLSON successfully serving an interesting feast of sounds and sights.
Hi Sohrab & Rohan, how are you? Where in the world are you right now and what are you doing before answering this email?
Very well thanks. We’re in Mumbai, India right now. We’re in the process of writing our first album, so we have been spending a lot of time in the studio.
So I guess we should start from the beginning, what inspired you to start making beats in the first place and how did you guys meet and make this project?
Well music was essentially a very essential part of both our childhoods. We were exposed to a lot of it because of our families. Our dads exposed us to what they listened to, and eventually we learned to play our instruments. As far as the project is concerned, we met quite by chance at Cotton Press Studio in Mumbai, where Rohan is one of the founding partners. We started working on our first EP before we planned on launching a project of any kind.
What’s the story behind NICHOLSON’s name?
I had initially gone to Cotton Press Studio, to record a couple songs I had written. We worked on our first EP together in an artist-producer context. I didn’t at the time want another alias, so I just used my last name. Very quickly the dynamic changed and it was quite clear we were a duo in every sense, but the name stuck. Funnily enough we later discovered that Rohan grew up next to a lady called Mrs. Nicholson. Turns out she was my great aunt!
How would you describe your genre?
Well, we’re not really genre specific. We draw inspiration from a really large palette. We come from similar jazz backgrounds, but listen to vastly different music from one another. So, in essence what we make is an amalgamation of all our influences.
What are your musical influences?
Jazz, Classical, Hip-Hop, Film Scores, Pop, Electronica… We’re sort of all over the place.
What kind of records were you collecting when you’re growing up?
Collectively… Michael Jackson. We definitely both had Michael Jackson records growing up. Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Weather Report – a few names that were always playing at home when we were growing up.
How do you think your hometown affects your music?
Never really thought about it to be honest…
How the songwriting/recording is usually goes for you? Who’s doing what?
It just depends on the song. We’ll jam out an idea and develop it. Sometimes, Sohrab will have a song skeleton with lyrics and basic chord guideline, which then gets developed together. Other times, it just starts with a groove… There’s no real system. It’s sort of a give and take. We both have ideas that all make it to the table and then we curate them.
You have awesome music videos that always feels so cinematic, how do you came up with the concept for your videos?
Well the video series is all thanks to our good friend Sachin Pillai, who came on board to collaborate with us from the very beginning. He’s a very talented cinematographer and documentary film maker. Our common friends are in the videos as well which made it quite special. The videos are Sachin’s babies. We brainstormed concepts etc, but he definitely captained that ship.
How do you feel about your local indie music scene in India nowadays? Do you have any recommended names to listens to?
The landscape of Indie music in India is changing very rapidly. A few years ago, there wasn’t really a market for non-mainstream Bollywood music. What’s happening right now is quite exciting. Yeah, lots of great acts… Sandunes, Parekh and Singh (Formerly Nischay Parekh), Sid Vashi are a few you should definitely check out!
What are you doing when not making music?
It’s pretty much our full time job. Other than this project, we also compose and produce music for television commercials, documentaries, etc.
What’s the most memorable gig so far and why?
Magnetic Fields which is a music festival held in a palace in Alsisar, Rajasthan. The festival on a whole was truly a very unique experience and we are just so happy we had the opportunity to perform there.
What’s your dream project?
A feature film background score.
What are the next goals for you?
We are writing our album as well as working on a creating a complete audio/visual experience tour collaborating with really talented visual artists, the “Wolves” who recently played at Glastonbury with Anoushka Shankar.
Photos by Neville Sukhia