By laying stepping stones as a pure Carnatic vocalist, this thirty three year old brilliant musician has never looked back. From performing at Opera Winfrey’s show to directing music for Jayaraj’s upcoming cinema ‘Backpackers’, Sachin Shankor Mannath had a trail of musical journey.
You describe yourself as a singer, composer and an educator. Tell us more about yourself?
Even though I started my musical journey as a Carnatic trained singer at a very early age, my taste and interests in music started slowly getting branched out towards North Indian music, world music and music composition; all credits to my father Dr Balashankor Mannath for exposing me to all these musics right from childhood. When I was doing my 3rd year Engineering, I decided that I should explore more in music and as a result of all that education and exposure I am now able to work in all departments of music say singing, composing, teaching, arranging, conducting, producing etc.
Unlike many composers in the industry, you are not coming from a family of musicians. Have you ever felt that difference?
It’s not completely true as my Grandmother used to sing and my father used to compose music for small albums, drama etc. Yes, they didn’t pursue it as their main profession. But I had all the privilege of meeting great musicians from my young age. So, I never felt that difference.
How do you see the Malayalam music industry at present? How open is it for experiments?
I believe there are lot of talented composers in the Malayalam film music industry right now. But I also feel the experimentation they do are limited to the taste of a specific audience. We are happy about the exposure and quick fame that we get within our small state. Film music is a very director driven area, so unless our directors are open to experimentation and adapt them in their movies, its very unlikely that composers can change something drastically. Most of the time it’s about the reference track and temp score; but with lot of new comers I do see a chance for positive change.
Could you share us your experience while working with Jayaraj sir?
In fact, I know Jayaraj sir for the past 20 years when his brother Mahesh released my first solo album as a child artist. After that he continued to be my mentor and from 2017 onwards, I have been fortunate to do music scores for most of his projects including Rebirth (documentary that won national award), many short films, and feature films Roudram 2018 and now Backpackers. He is a director who gives you complete freedom when working on background score and songs but also gives specific instructions on the mood, emotion and sometimes instrumentation as well. I am truly blessed to have worked with such a legend in the beginning stages of my career itself.
From your compositions like “Mother” to “Unaru”, we get to hear sundry genres and emotions. They are undeniably few of those excellent tracks where one would lend their ears again! How did that happen? What was your inspiration behind such unique style of amalgamation?
For me, music is the highest level of meditation. But Since I am an academic as well, I also do a lot of research when it comes to conceiving and executing an idea. During that time various artists, their music, or maybe even an article or a picture can inspire you. You can’t purposefully create soul to a composition, it has to naturally flow and happen. Many times, I wonder how I even did these compositions. It’s a magic that I don’t have a proper explanation or answer to.
Being one of those few Indian artists to be featured in Oprah Winfrey Show, how was your music received there?
That happened only because of AR Rahman sir. I used to actively involve in his Sufi ensemble as a lead singer those days and we got a chance to perform for Oprah Winfrey. The music was very well received by the audience that included all major Indian celebrities. I take these opportunities as stepping stones in my career that boosted my confidence to take the next step.
Have you planned to augment yourself as a director to the other industries apart from Malayalam?
I never planned to compose even for Malayalam films. It all started when I did a composition “Kanthi” for a musical drama when I was a music student in London. Movie offer came because of that and I am now at my 6th feature film as a composer. Now that I have signed a couple of commercial films in Malayalam, let’s see where it takes me. I am open to any good projects irrespective of the language.
How do you see yourself after ten years? As a director, singer or an educator?
I only believe in the journey. Last 10 years has been great and I am extremely happy and grateful to all what happened. So, I would just rather enjoy the uncertainty that is the beauty of this profession. To answer the question, I see myself as a more matured director, singer and educator.
Who has been that one person who remained constantly as an inspiration?
Its really difficult to name one person. All my gurus have been my inspiration to remain grounded. All artists I listen to and work with has been a musical inspiration. But to name one person, I would say that it’s my father who has been my greatest supporter and guide throughout my musical journey shaping my thoughts and approach and induce the sparks of creative thinking.