LISTEN: Pop-rock album ‘Make It Happen’ by Tejas
Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Tejas recently released his new album, ‘Make It Happen,’ and it’s been met with great response. In just a few months of touring a few cities, Tejas has already become a familiar name, with his peppy music and boy-next-door charm. But when asked about these gigs, Tejas just laughs. “The glamorous life of an independent musician is literally sitting at your computer and asking people to listen to your album. I do it 6-8 hours a day,” he tells me.
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‘Make It Happen’ appeals on a bunch of different levels
‘Make It Happen’ is the kind of album that anyone can listen to. “My kinda music appeals on a bunch of different levels. On the surface level, it can be catchy. But on a musical level also, I think there’s a lot of structure to it. [And there’s a] lot of instrumentation which can be appealing to people who love music and who play instruments. Like, I get a lot of kids who ask me for my chords. And some people, you know, songwriters, like the lyrics. And lyrics are so important to me. I love it when people ask for my lyrics more than the music. So, I like that it kinda works on multiple levels that way.”
Tejas thinks he’s lucky that he’s a pop artist
Tejas’ favorite artist is KT Tunstall, known for her worldwide hit Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. “I like that she’s just doing everything according to her own terms. Her albums have just gotten better and better. She’s a prolific and amazing woman. There’s so much to learn from her originality.” Still, none of her songs have come close to achieving the commercial success that Black Horse and the Cherry Tree did.
When asked about the tricky balance of following one’s passion and commercial success, Tejas says, “I’m lucky that way, that the genre of music that I like just so happens to be the kind which is appealing to people on a more mainstream level. Like, my music is very consumable, so that works in my favor. Metal and jazz are very advanced forms of music. By their very nature, they’ve a smaller, more niche, but also more interested and musically advanced group of fans.”
Image courtesy of Tejas
How Tejas became the artist that he is today
“I wrote a bunch of really bad songs first, then got them out of my system. Now I write good songs. And that’s the most accurate way of putting it,” Tejas says. “I think a lot of artists do have the potential, but I always feel like if a few things could be added or subtracted in their songs, they could really reach that potential. I’m not saying my album has the perfect balance for it. But I just feel like I’ve developed a decent sense for pop music.” And that’s what makes people want to return to his songs again and again.
Still, Tejas likes pop music that’s more progressive, and more intellectual, and it reflects in his new album. ‘Make It Happen’ might not sound complicated to a novice listener, but it’s complex in terms of structure and arrangement. “I like it when a song is more than just 4 chords looped throughout the entire song. Like, the number one song in the world is Shape Of You. And while it’s artistically done, it kind of bothers me that the song just repeats the same groove over and over again.”
How ‘Make It Happen’ happened
Apart from being an optimistic and motivational message to listeners, the title of the album (meta alert) also pretty much describes itself: Tejas literally made the album happen. Although it’s the kind of album that he’d always wanted to do, he couldn’t at first because of budget constraints and his previous profession. Even after he’d decided to do music full-time, recording the album and getting the quality of output he wanted was a challenge with the funds he had. So even though he never thought it was going to work, Tejas turned to crowdfunding — and managed to raise a whooping amount of 4,45,000 rupees. In a place where people are constantly saying that the indie scene is dead or, at the very least, unappreciated, the fact that an artist can get this much support is surprising.
“Crowdfunding inherently works for independent artists because independent communities ARE small communities, and they’re run off the backs of a very small bunch of fans who’re willing to put their money where their mouth is,” Tejas says. “Those people love the artist so much, which is what is sustaining the community to begin with. So I think it could definitely work for everyone.” It’s made him a lot more confident as an artist to know that there are people who want to fund his music. The money came from a variety of sources, including people he didn’t know or people he hadn’t talked to in a long time, which he found both really rewarding and flattering.
Mumbai is the place to be for aspiring artists
Tejas grew up in Dubai, which he says was a complicated place to be in. It was coming of age as he was coming of age. It was a mixed bag, and he could relate to that. As a kid, he was surrounded by Western media and had Indian friends, all the while growing up in the middle of Eastern culture. This reflects in his music, which is why Mumbai is naturally one of the very few cities he could thrive as a songwriter. He feels that moving there was the smartest thing he could’ve done. Mumbai is a melting pot of talent, housing people from so many different cultures and backgrounds. “Bombay is very welcoming. And when I say welcoming, I mean, as long as you’re good at what you do, you’ll have a place there.”