Ratnang Singh’s debut album The War is a rewarding listen
Ratnang Singh is the latest artist to join Delhi’s ever-expanding circuit of singer-songwriters. But he didn’t always want to be a musician. What started off as a cathartic release following the death of his dog culminated into a full-time hobby, and after four years of writing about love, loss and everything in between, he’s released his debut album The War. But there’s nothing he wishes more than to have been able to sing it to her.
“I remember sitting in my room listening to Tom Petty,” Ratnang says, “I think it was Only A Broken Heart, and for some reason, I was stuck in that space, wondering how long it would be or what it would take from me to deliver such emotion in lyrics. I started to pen my thoughts down and began to write, humming along, strumming the guitar, making my way towards something I would call my own. It was The War, my first song.”
With Ratnang’s powerful storytelling, The War is an album that can either weigh you down or make you think. When Ratnang started work on The War, he wasn’t really sure whether he could write songs that would center around a general theme. “I mean, when you write, you aren’t always in the same mood. I’d written The War already and was working around getting the other songs done. Writing in a dark room helped me achieve what I was looking for. It took months, but it all started to shape up. Once there was a theme, it wasn’t too hard. It’s like you know your guidelines. I’d managed to string these seven songs together.”
The War starts off with a nostalgic number called Devil In Me, and like the title track, it talks about growing up, facing challenges, and drawing strength from within to be able to move forward and find peace. You and Stella Gardner talk about characters that have lost in love but don’t lose hope. No Fire In The Flame and The Lovers Part talk about pain and loss. The last song on the album, the most personal of the lot, A Little Boy, talks about child sexual abuse. “This was the song that took a lot from me. It’s a sensitive issue and needed the right kind of treatment. It’s a simple story that deals with the complications inflicted upon his life.”
About working on his first album, Ratnang says, “It’s way more challenging than releasing just one song. It’s a mood, a theme, and you can’t be all over the place. The songs must be chosen carefully. It is extremely important for songwriters to find that producer who will pay attention to what you have to say and will arrange the songs for you by understanding that. It’s not easy. After all, someone else is going to interpret your work and put their spin on it, it’s crucial to be on the same page.
“The challenging part of the album was to work on its music because lyrically, it’s heavy, it’s emotional, and, for the most part, dark. The beauty is that one should connect with all of this without feeling drained. That is where the music comes in, lifts you up, gets you into a mood where it makes you think and in some cases takes you away.”
About being a musician, Ratnang says, “Like every other profession, it is slow-paced and you cannot lose sight. Working towards getting heard is a long drawn process. It was 2013 when I decided to stay in, mostly to keep writing. It was then that I began meeting other musicians and understanding the art of songwriting. I’d put out some singles back then but it was only in 2016, when I released my song Unforgiving, that I truly felt what it is to be heard. This track did really well for me.”
He ends our conversation with this: “There’s no greater freedom than turning thoughts into melodies.”