Swarada Bodas is a singer and a songwriter whose dynamic music has added emotions to many Spill Poetries. Her art connects an artist and the audience through a beautiful rendition of words/poetry and music. The tunes of her guitar playing along with the words capture and stimulate sensitive emotions. It is this cathartic blend of music and poems/songs that make her the musician pushing boundaries of the art. Having covered only the initial steps, Swarada Bodas already showcases the capability of writing a new chapter in the art of music and song writing.
SheThePeople.TV had a wonderful opportunity to be in conversation with Swarada Bodas. Read on and get to know her better.
Being a psychology student, when did you realise that you were a songwriter? Tell us about your journey?
I grew up in a family of music lovers, so music has always been a significant part of my life. In fact, my mom very recently told me that I had started singing way before I started talking! Growing up, I remember singing all the time. However, it was always more of a hobby for me and I had always focused more on academics. When I started college, I performed in a lot of events and competitions; I got good feedback and a lot of offers from various bands and artists. But, I always strayed away from them because I never wanted to admit to myself that this is what I wanted. So, I continued performing with a secret hope of getting discovered someday. When I was about 18, one of my friends, who is an amazing musician himself, told me that he thought that I had a way with words and that I should write songs. I barely wrote but I think that was the beginning of my journey in a lot of ways.
I think it’s the hardest thing to be authentic, to own your truth. But, in my opinion, that is what most artists let go of when other factors, especially money and fame, come into the picture.
Being a guitarist, songwriter and a singer, you could have explored TV or mainstream Bollywood. What is it that pulls you to the stage of spill poetry which is known for honest self-expression and confrontations with the society?
I did grow up with a lot of Bollywood music but I could not connect with it artistically and personally for whatever reasons. It always gives me a commercial vibe and I don’t think that my songs are for any commercial purposes. Of course, there are a lot of songs which are an exception to this thought of mine but most songs in the mainstream media just seemed very surface level to me and they did not make me feel anything. When I discovered western music, I was about 13 and that really changed a lot of things for me. The artists and their songs showed so much vulnerability and rawness that I felt included and I felt connected. I started writing in English as well, so that also contributed to me not being keen on figuring out Bollywood but I strived towards finding my own sound as an artist. When I was offered a chance to work with Spill Poetry, I was instantly intrigued and knew that this was something that would help me grow as an artist. I had only worked with 1-2 poets before for solo projects and this allowed me to take things to the next level.
Your music has provided background music to many powerful spill poetries. The one with Priya Malik is just the latest. How do you think your music helps artists to convey their ideologies and thoughts?
Personally, for me, working with all these poets, my entire goal was to create an ambience, an environment, a framework to facilitate and maximize their work, their pieces and amplify the potential of their words without it being too noisy and too distracting for the audience. I think music is such a powerful tool. Often we hear melodies and feel emotions even when such emotions aren’t necessarily labelled or put forth directly in the form of lyrics. Whenever I work with poets, I always strive to create that melodic context which makes their poems and performances stand out and make the overall experience as impactful as I can. Hopefully, I achieved that when I worked with Spill Poetry, too.
When I discovered western music, I was about 13 and that really changed a lot of things for me. The artists and their songs showed so much vulnerability and rawness that I felt included and I felt connected.
What role does art play in your life? Is it self-expression or an escape? Or does it have an entirely new meaning?
Honestly speaking, I don’t think I have yet figured out what art means to me or what role it plays in my life. Some days, it is a vessel for my emotions to be poured into. On others, it is a remedy of sorts or a therapeutic device. Sometimes, it is a loving challenge that I never get tired of and some days I am so sick of it, so drained, that every bone in me refuses to sing a tune. What I am sure of, when it comes to art, is that although it takes various forms and harms me more than calms me, I know for a fact that it is essential for me. It seems to be the core of me and I find my way back to it.
There has been a huge gender gap in the music industry. Women singers, composers are often judged based on their gender. Would you like to share any such experience in your music career and how you dealt with it?
I don’t think that I have enough experience in the industry to comment on such an issue. I am pretty new and fortunately, I haven’t personally experienced any discrimination based on gender so far in my journey.
What is your mantra as a woman artist to deal with stereotypes related to “art has no money” and women artists? Would you like to recommend it to other artists?
Like I mentioned before, I haven’t faced any discrimination just because I am a woman. But, I have faced a lot of people who have asked me to perform for free or for exposure stating that I shouldn’t ask for money because I am just starting out, because I am yet to build a fan base, etc. Honestly, I did believe them when they said that I should not ask for money because I perhaps don’t deserve it yet. I still do. But, I think my way of dealing with all of this is to repress the absolute hell out of such instances and keep making music, keep doing shows. I think I tend to take everything in and try to focus all of that energy, anger, frustration, and sadness, whatever it is that I am feeling into my art. Sometimes, I succeed, most days I don’t but for me, that is the most appropriate solution to this problem.
What is your message for aspiring artists?
Emil Cioran once said, “Write only if you write in those pages what you wouldn’t dare say to anyone else.” This has been my mantra for a while now. I think it’s the hardest thing to be authentic, to own your truth. But, in my opinion, that is what most artists let go of when other factors, especially money and fame, come into the picture. They start bending their truths a little, allowing it to take a more commercial form. For me, I have always found myself most connected to those performers, to those artists who feel truthful to me. If the artist isn’t connected to the art, how can the audience connect to the art?
Today social media has become a strong medium to publicise your talent but at the same time has its own drawbacks. The hateful comments and less likes make artists or any social media user conscious and demotivated. What is your take on dealing with the trolls and fewer likes?
I think that whenever I am faced with the cons of social media, I try to remind myself of why I started doing music. All I wanted was to sing. Everything else, money, comments, recognition, trolls, everything is extra noise. That is not what I wanted, ever. So, how does its presence or absence make a difference? It can be quite easy to get lost in the drama and dazzle of social media but I just try to stay in touch with my roots, with my friends. I won’t say that it’s always easy to stay in this Zen. I fail more times than I would like to admit but I think it’s a goal worth striving for.
I haven’t faced any discrimination just because I am a woman. But, I have faced a lot of people who have asked me to perform for free or for exposure stating that I shouldn’t ask for money because I am just starting out.
How did the collab with Priya Malik come about and what was the process of creating it like?
So, I was approached by Spill Poetry for a showcase where I was to be the musician on the line-up, collaborating with a few poets as well and Priya was one of the featured poets of the show. She had a new piece and wanted a musician on board for the same. When I heard her piece, ‘You’, I was instantly so much in awe of her. I think we clicked instantly. She was very kind to let me do my own thing. In fact, one of the first things she said to me was that she gives me the entire creative control of the music and that she trusts my instincts. I think that really helped me to open up and put my best into the piece. The equation between us always felt balanced, she never really made me feel smaller than her in any way. We discussed so many aspects of the piece and really the whole process was so smooth. It seemed natural and it just came about. I remember when we recorded it live, there was absolute pin-drop silence in the audience. Both of us felt so connected and so evaporated and submerged in the piece, it was surreal.
What are you working on now, and when will it be out?
I recently released my debut single, Sorry. It is out on all streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, Saavn, etc. It’s been receiving a good response. It already has more than 12,000 streams on Spotify. Other than that, I am working on other covers and singles which will be released soon! I am also playing a bunch of shows in the upcoming month and I hope to keep creating more art that speaks my truth and helps me grow towards being a kinder artist and human being.
Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV