Sometimes taking a leap of faith and following your heart is all it takes.
He may come across as the boy next-door but is quite a sensation with the ladies – Tejas Menon’s cuteness and down-to-earth attitude as also his simplicity have won the hearts of many lasses. Menon appeared on the indie music scene gradually, albeit, unexpectedly and delighted everyone. Having released his debut EP ‘Small Victories’, his groove, melody and sense of songwriting has been easy-listening for most – a reason why one will find a lot of people in the audience singing along at his live gigs (not to mention that 50 per cent of the crowd comprises young girls). Though I’ve noticed many enjoying his live sets while others find his jokes in between songs quite annoying. Most of the music is original with his sound ranging from acoustic and easy-listening to his sets with a band. He’s performed at the Bacardi Nh7 Weekender, the New Wave Music Festival, Live From The Console, and has featured in GearHouse and Balcony TV as well.
Evidence, Balcony TV
I chat with him about his plans ahead, with management changing hands, as also the fact that he’s quit his job.
You’ve been a part of both Pune and Mumbai music scene … what’s your observation?
I worked as an RJ at 94.3 FM Radio One in Pune and hosted their English music show – first only over weekends and then fulltime. That’s how I got to know a lot about the indie music scene. At the same time, the Bacardi Nh7 Weekender happened in Pune in 2010 for the first time and I attended it. . I found young people like me who had original music and who were playing it live and that’s when I was motivated to perform live too. I started playing small shows in Pune which were acoustic sets. I didn’t have a band nor did I feel the need to have one – I had all my material ready. Pune had very few venues to perform at such as The High Spirits and Swig.
Is that why you moved to Mumbai?
Yes… I never took music seriously until I moved to Mumbai to do my Master’s degree. I ended up performing at `Live From The Console’ and the Thespo festival. But due to logistics, my priority was to get a job and work. I kept saying to myself that I will do music full-time and pursue it as a career only when the time is right. But then, after working for six months all that I wanted to do was just play live! The transition was quite strange.
Did you hate your job or just loved music?
Mumbai has a lot of opportunities and I have been really fortunate. In the past one year, I met the right kind of people such as my manager Krish Makhija and the ace producer/guitarist Warren Mendonsa. When Krish started managing me, I did a lot of gigs as a singer-songwriter. After I performed at No Cover Charge, I had bandmates as well – Jehangir Jehangir, Aalok Padhye and Adil Kurwa. The band also played on the record when we were working on the EP. We launched the album at Café Zoe and then did a string of gigs, including playing at the Bacardi Nh7 Weekender. All of this put things in perspective. I even managed to pack Blue Frog with the band!
Introducing an audience to new music and getting them to like it couldn’t have been easy?
I skipped the sacred rite of passage of playing at college festivals when I broke into the scene. But I hold that as a testament to the music – I put it out there without expecting that it would have the kind of impact that it did. I still don’t know many people in Mumbai unlike my band members who have always lived in the city. I have only just started to do that kind of networking. But it’s because the music was good that people paid attention to it. People are still getting to know me –at a gig in Blue Frog where I was headlining some people didn’t know I was the main act and they said, “Oh I think we spotted you at Donn Bhatt’s gig…” I didn’t want to say I was playing but I just told them to come up to the gig and they were quite surprised and enjoyed the show. I love that element of surprise. It’s new and fresh and something unfamiliar and it plays in my favour – I want people to know me through my music.
Rumour has it youre very popular with college girls. Why not play more in colleges?
I want colleges to call me if they find my music to be interesting. My music isn’t just fun but rather it’s adult-contemporary. I want to tap into an older crowd. I haven’t been in a relationship for two years and since then my writing has changed. I hate it when people think singer-songwriters sing only love ballads – that’s not entirely true. My songs are about someone or some events that have shaped me. I have a non-serious demeanor onstage; I don’t know how to be cool on stage – and that’s where the singer-songwriter aspect creeps in. I am honest with my audience, there are no games, and I make myself vulnerable. I can’t be an enigma or a mystery. I can’t be anything more than what I am and I hope that comes across.
So now with a band in place, are you a singer-songwriter or not?
A lot of people tell me that they like my acoustic sets but most of the music I write is meant for a band. I played it by myself only because I didn’t have a band. The acoustic set is different and I still play it. My goal was to create pop music – I wanted to have good grooves, bass lines and melody; nice keys, synth parts –that is important to me. I wanted to be a pop sensation and not a singer-songwriter – that happened by default. I became a singer-songwriter by default and I enjoy being one – I like the quieter moments I have and I get to play intimate gigs. Now I can be a solo act and play as a band as well!
You, Want GearHouse SOLO
It’s been three months since I quit the advertising business though I keep freelancing. I have been developing and shooting for Kadak Apple Records with Krish. The aim is to have people like me onboard and to mentor them and show them the way ahead in the music industry. The folks at Cotton Press Studio have helped me in accentuating my music and developing its structure though I write all the songs. I will be creating new material and releasing it. At the same time, Uttara Mendonsa of Gig Mama Bear is now managing me so I am looking forward to doing a lot more live shows – I want to play in many cities and reach out to a lot more musicians. Also, since I am a geek, I want to start a YouTube channel on those lines!
Words by: Divya Naik