Written by Lauren Rosier
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the incredible producer/composer, Aman Jagwani via email, and discuss his new album, This Place, and how it all came together. This Place is his sophomore album and is a representation of all of his influences from jazz, R&B, soul, Latin grooves, to electronic production.
On both the lead single and album, the visionary Aman Jagwani is able to transform musical arrangements and lyrical themes into a beautiful piece of artistry that takes the listener on a journey to a new place and time.
“I wanted this work to consist of sophisticated jazz harmony, complex, but easy-to-listen-to rhythmic ideas, lush vocal arrangements while still being accessible and relatable for all audiences,” Jagwani explained of his new album. “This will hopefully help in widening my listeners’ musical palette and help with the progression of innovative, modern, and sophisticated music.”
The album title, This Place, is kind of a pun on the word ‘displace.’ Jagwani wrote most of the music during the intense times of the pandemic and lockdowns when everyone was facing challenges and problems. It seemed like it was a time and place that no one wanted to be in and many people were looking for an escape.
“I, too, was looking for an escape, and writing and producing this music did exactly that for me. But at the same time, I realized that the fact that the whole world can completely stop and transform itself in a time of crisis means that we need to take a step back, appreciate what we have, and keep an open mind to look at the other side of every situation.”
This idea, then, made him gravitate towards the idea of ‘displacing’ form where we are to our ideal place, but finding the power to do it within ourselves and within our appreciation for every kind of situation.
“The pun of ‘This Place’ and ‘displace’ suggests that both ideas are essentially the same,” Jagwani suggests, then adds. “We have the power we of making the place we’re in, whether it’s mental, physical, emotional, or any place, into the place we want to be in. This central idea is depicted through the album in a different way in each song.”
The creation of this record has allowed Jagwani to experiment and stretch his compositional, performance, and production abilities to create something that is engaging, unique and moving.
“One of my favorite parts of this album is that each song has a completely different line-up. I have been lucky to play with and make friends with great artists around the world. This ability has allowed me to meet the vision of each of the songs through a unique combination of these peoples’ voices,” Jagwani admits. “It has also helped me highlight the power of music in bringing different people from different backgrounds together and break barriers.”
The song, “This Place,” is the lead single and the title track, and marks the very first release from the record.
“This song is about the pursuit of a better place in life. As you mentioned, it aims to transport the listener to their ideal place,” he explains. “I am very glad that you feel like it does take the listener to another place. I think we were able to achieve this by making the arrangement, production, and performance very immersive, engaging and, at the right moments, surprising…”
“First, I have a three-part horn arrangement to carry out the main theme of the song. The flugelhorn, tenor sax, and baritone sax parts cover a wide frequency spectrum and create a blanket of sound for the other elements and the listeners to rest on… secondly, I also used relatable but evolving and slightly unconventional jazz harmony to create a sense of forwarding motion or journey-like feeling for the piece to move forward and take the listener to their other place… Thirdly, then I added elements of surprise like some dissonance in the melody, improvisation in the flugelhorn solo, as well as the drums… the bridge is in ⅝, which takes a chunk of the verse melody and displaces it in time (mirroring the theme of the song). There are spacey synths, haunting vocals, ear-catching glitches, and slightly heavier drums to create a distinct, but comfortable pace, as well as key change… Lastly and most importantly, the vocal performance, arrangement, and lyrics played a key role in making this song immersive, engaging, and transitional. It’s been a pleasure working with Anubha Kaul on these songs and the authentic soul she projects while singing. We’ve spent a good 3 days working on the vocal arrangement together. The lyrics written by Anubha highlight the themes very powerfully as well, they acknowledge the feeling of being lost and the desire to escape to another place, and gradually take the listener on this journey by explaining that a better place can be reached only by appreciating the good in what we already have.”
Jagwani recorded and produced this record at home in Goa, India, during the lockdown. This Place is his sophomore record and is due to be released on June 11, 2021.
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