Gabriel Daniel releases new EP 'definiens'

Gabriel Daniel, the brilliant, young musician based out of Bangalore has released a brand new EP titled 'definiens' on May 23rd 2020. This is his third outing after 'Triple' and 'Conflicting', both of which garnered rave reviews from all quarters. He has been awarded the Best Young Indie Artist by Radio City and his music has featured on Rolling Stone's Editors Pick.

RANJINI ACHUTHAN in conversation with the  cross-genre singer-songwriter.

Pics courtesy of the artist

What does 'definiens' signify? What do the two songs talk about? 

'definiens' essentially means 'something that defines', and I think this album was me going through that process of finding definition and clarity and going in and through those questions and rebuttals. 

'A Lack Thereof' talks about a feeling of lacking, and how to embrace and move forward with those doubts and half-assed answers we pick up along the way. 

'A Thought Complete' speaks to one's view of self and almost kinda gently scolds the self to see how it isn't a finished project but something that is still in process, and that we need to extend ample grace and love to us while we're journeying through our lives. 

Walk us through the creative collaborations you sought for the EP including the artwork.

The drums on the album were played by my indie-scene favorite Suyash Gabriel, and the final masters were done by Ronak Runwal at Gray Spark Audio. This was a completely homemade project outside of that, though technically, even Suyash's tracking was done at his home. I learned how to mix and produce over the last few months and ended up filling in all the roles, from production and writing to recording and mixing!

The artwork was done by Rae Zachariah, who's been brilliant with execution and so patient with me being nit-picky!

What is different in the overall soundscape of the EP when compared to your previous works, 'Conflicting' and 'Triple'? 

I think there's a lot more focus— this time around, I grew to where I knew what I wanted and how that could translate. It's at times heavier, there's some synth and sound design, and there are vocal layers that I personally loved putting together. It's also my favorite songwriting yet, and I think overall I'm much closer to a musical voice that's unique and is mine this time around.

What kind of a composer are you? Do you draw inspiration from your personal life or are you the observer who reflects and writes about the world? Do you write the lyrics first and then arrange the melody or is it the other way round? In short, what is the songwriting process like?

I'm a people-watcher, in a non-creepy way. (though being this defensive might not help my case)

I've always intended to write in a way that brings in conversation that people wouldn't easily have, like how these songs tackle belonging and self-worth. I'm a mental health advocate and often excessively vulnerable, I care a lot about the world to a point that it fatigues me, I'm centered in my Christian faith and believe strongly in extending the compassion the Bible commands of us, and I am a big-time romantic. All that just flows into what I write. 

Composition wise, there really isn't a formula I stick to. Sometimes it's something I played that sounded cool, sometimes I have strong intentions behind the music; at times the music comes first, at times not. You've got to just let it work itself out sometimes. 

COVID-19 has clearly not dampened your pace considering the successful release of your EP. What are your immediate plans to keep your music afloat under the present circumstances of a blanket ban on events? What do you think should change for independent musicians to earn well through their career especially in a movie-driven country like India.

I'm working on helping a friend in San Diego make her first album, playing some guitar and just being there for whatever is needed of me, as a musician and friend. Outside of that, I have a few more songs I'm going to start working on soon, I'm excited about how they'll turn out! 

I think everybody realized the value of the art they consume during the pandemic, it kept a lot of us sane, and I don't know if there could possibly be any live music for a while, considering the hit the industry has taken and how tough social distancing would prove to be in a concert, but I think this is a good time for a solid push for independent music to be widely heard and backed.

There's so much amazing music being made in this country, and I think it's getting discovered steadily, and I hope and am positive that we'd get to a more fruitful place for all us soon enough where the music industry can flourish outside of Indian cinema, maybe even work in synergy.

'definiens' is available on all major streaming platforms.