Posted by Susmit Limaye, Mumbai
I came home from my studio after the day’s work as usual when the authorities announced a strict lockdown in the city and across the country. I’m a music composer by profession and work from my studio in a commercial building. At first I thought it was too good to be true…. that I’d be able to go back to the studio on Monday as usual. Little did I know, how wrong I was.
I was very grateful to be around my wife and son more now, as I was spending all my time at home. But I was missing my studio terribly, and the feeling that I could not go there to make music was gnawing within me. As I don’t own a car and all public transport was shut down meant that I couldn’t bring my music gear home even if I wanted.
I was about to start work on the background score of a feature film at the time that the lockdown was imposed. So there was nothing to do but wait until the restrictions were lifted to resume work on it. But after about a week, the film’s director called me and asked, “If I could arrange for your music gear to be brought to your house, would you be able to work on the film?” “Yes, absolutely!” I said. Apparently the film’s producer was insistent that work on the film shouldn’t stop in spite of the lockdown. He arranged a car to pick me up, go to the studio, pack what gear I needed and bring it home. This way, I jumped onto the growing “Work from Home” bandwagon!
Now, as I was able to make music at home, the days began to go by quicker. I finished composing the film score sooner than I expected.
As I was wondering what to do next to keep myself occupied, I got a call from a relative of mine who proposed an interesting project. We decided to create podcasts of some short stories for his YouTube channel. I asked a few friends to narrate and record the stories on their devices at home and send them to me. I composed music for them and even designed sound effects wherever needed. This was great fun to do and it kept us all occupied. Having something worthwhile to do distracted us from the depressing news about the rising number of covid cases but only for a little while.
Then came all these video calling apps which we all began to explore. A friend of mine had started an online filmmaking course. He invited me as a guest on one of his sessions with his students to talk about film music. It felt great to interact with these budding filmmakers and discuss cinematic music with them in great depth. Seeing such passion in these young kids motivated me too to try to be even more dedicated to my craft.
Around this time, I realized that having so much time in hand, I could work on my own songs. The fact that I compose music for films and other media meant that I was always being commissioned to work on someone else’s projects and I had become accustomed to creating music to a client brief. But now I realized that I was my own client and that I could create any kind of music that I wanted without any restrictions.
I decided to immediately revive one or two tunes that I had composed a few years ago but had never come around to finishing them on account of lack of time, or lack of motivation or whatever. But now I had all the time in the world to bring those ideas to fruition. And the fact that nowadays one can release one’s own material without having to go through the “record label” meant that there really was no excuse to stop me from putting my own music out there. I was able to collaborate with talented lyricists on these songs.
Another cool thing about these collaborations was that a lot of my musical friends had taken the “work from home” concept to heart and had built their own recording setups at home. So I was able to ask singers and musicians to record their parts from the comfort of their own homes and send the files to me. Many mixing engineers also have home studios now, so I was able to get my songs mixed by them during the lockdown without anybody having to leave their homes.
One good thing about the lockdown was that it gave time for my inner songwriter to blossom and allowed me to truly express myself creatively. These songs were not created for some imaginary characters in a movie…. they were the products my own artistic expression just waiting to burst out of me for all these years. For example, I wrote a song as a tribute to a childhood friend who gave up his life a few years ago due to depression. Until now, I had not addressed this issue properly and creating a song about this gave me a sort of closure and it was a very emotional and cathartic experience for me.
I pray that my regular work start to flow in again and our industry returns to normal as soon as possible. But now I’ve decided to make time for my own music among my other projects, as I don’t want the songwriter in me to languish further. Music is the best gift there is, and I’m ready to share it with all of you.
Links to Susmit’s songs and website : www.susmitlimaye.in
Cover image: Author
Story images: Author
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