Abhay Singh’s “Day Music”

Written by on August 23, 2012 in August 23, 2012, CD / DVD Releases, Gigs / Tours / Events, Interviews, Music and DVD Reviews - Comments Off on Abhay Singh’s “Day Music”

Abhay  Singh’s “Day Music” Will Help Get You Through The Night

Abhay  Singh

Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Abhay Singh, originally from San Francisco, began writing and recording music when he was fourteen, playing in pop/punk/prog/gothic/synthpop/industrial bands in high school and college.  More recently, however, he has taken an interest in more traditional forms of American music, embracing folk and country genres and rediscovering his childhood love for doo-wop.

All Access Magazine (AAM) recently had a chance to speak to Singh (AS) about his latest record.

AAM: Talk about some of the songs on your new album, Day Music.

AS: Most of Day Music takes place at night. It opens with me having a dream occurring at night and many of the songs were inspired by dreams, particularly “My Heart Is Weak I Must Atone.” I had a dream where a lion outside crashed through a window and encountered me inside. I realized later that it’s like the Allen Ginsberg poem “The Lion For Real.” Then I interpreted this dream through 2 Kings 17:25: “When they first settled there, they did not worship YHWH; therefore YHWH sent lions among them, which killed some of them” (NRSV). But it’s also a waking-up album. While I’m dreaming in the first song, by the second track I’m awoken by a fly or a mosquito (or God?). It’s appropriate because the album comes after a series of Gothic/Industrial EPs called Night Music that I made with my band in college. This is my attempt at making happier music in response to that. It’s for my family and friends because I think some of them were beginning to tire of the screaming. So I used only major keys on this album and utilized Americana music styles. But it might actually be my saddest album because it’s my most personal. It’s an album about relationships: reminiscing about the beginning of the relationship while experiencing the relationship going stale in “In My Dreams” and the eventual heartbreak in “I Still Love You.” But it’s also about human-divine relationships. “Nighttime Theophany (You Wake Me Up)” hints at a physically intimate relationship with God and “My Heart Is Weak” laments falling out of love with God.

AAM: You have quite a few musicians playing on the album. What’s the story behind that?

AS: I wanted each song to have its own sound- each kind of in a universe unto itself. Kind of like Phil Spector and Brian Wilson’s approach to producing 3-minute symphonies. I wanted to make a whole album of pop-arias, like Roy Orbison. And I wanted each song to have its own unique vibe. So we assembled a slightly different line-up for each recording session with the core on all the sessions being Andrew Parke on piano, Malcolm MacDuffie on guitar, and Joe McCarthy on organ with head engineer/mixer/producer Eric Xu. I also wanted to use instruments beyond the mainstream guitar-bass-drums set-up. Organ, piano, and saxophone were integral to the classic rock & roll sound but are rarely used in new rock music. I also used glockenspiel and strings to make an intentionally pretty rock record in order to demonstrate the rock music doesn’t have to be super aggressive.

AAM: When did you first get into music, and who were some of your earliest influences?

AS: I’ve always loved music and I initially wanted to be a deejay or something, but when my dad bought me a keyboard when I was about twelve or thirteen that’s when I started writing my own music. My two earliest influences were Philip Glass and Bob Marley. Glass really inspired me to start making music and his minimalism and melancholy have been big influences. Marley really inspired me politically and religiously and is the reason behind why I often write political-religious lyrics. I didn’t end up writing love songs until a lot later on. Now I’m trying to incorporate all three elements in my songwriting.

AAM: So you’re now living in New York City,  having moved from San Francisco. What do you see as the main differences in the music scene between the two cities?

Abhay  Singh

AS: The music scene in San Francisco is a lot more close-knit than it is in New York. Everyone seems to know each other over there. There are a lot more bands and a lot more venues here. I’ve realized more and more after living here for five years that NYC is really multiple cities, and the subdivisions go beyond the five boroughs. And so there are really multiple New York music scenes. I read somewhere that just Brooklyn itself could fit many San Francisco’s in both population and area. It’s still hard to grasp how huge this city is. That’s part of the inspiration for “I’m Still Alone”: how the most populous city in the country can also be the loneliest– the experience of commuting on the subway every day, surrounded by and so physically close to hundreds of people and yet completely alone. San Francisco sometimes feels like a small town in comparison. That’s probably why my hometown shows up so often in my dreams.

AAM: As a singer/songwriter, what’s the main message you attempt to convey through the music you make?

AS: I usually have a radical Leftist political agenda that I’m trying to push in my music but, for some reason, this is my least political record. And it’s actually an album of many different voices. The lyrics for almost half the songs were written by my songwriting partner and up and coming poet Claire Hong Meuschke. The album’s almost a conversation because some of the songs I wrote the lyrics for are speaking to her. And then there’s the voice of the Bible. I wanted to expose how bizarre the Bible is and how it presents ideas often considered unorthodox by those who claim to be biblically-influenced. In both “Nighttime Theophany” and “My Enemies Are Like Bees That Surround Me,” there’s the occasional biblical literary device of describing God as an insect. In “My Enemies Are Like Bees” there’s the pre-modern biblical cosmology: a reference to how the primordial monsters and cosmic waters were relegated to below the earth by God in order to bring about creation. In “Nighttime Theophany,” it’s implied that the speaker sees God’s body, an idea completely plausible in the Bible, especially in the Temple where God resides and where prophetic calls like the one described in this song sometimes takes place. And then, of course, there are the animal sacrifices! The only way one could atone in biblical times was by bringing an offering to the priests. I encourage everyone to read Leviticus chapters 1 through 7 to see how detailed the instructions are in dealing with the meat and the blood which God smells in the Bible and in “Nighttime Theophany.” But my primary goal for this album was to create an emotional response. The songs are intended to cause my audience to feel what I feel: nostalgia, melancholy, and heartbreak.

AAM: Do you plan to make a living in the music business?

AS: I would love to make a living in the music business. There’s nothing like spending over twelve hours in the studio working with such talented musicians performing your own compositions. Ideally this would be my life and I’d get paid for it! AAM: Parting thoughts? AS: Thanks to my Hebrew Bible professors Karina Hogan and Mary Callaway for first showing me how weird the Bible truly is. And I encourage everyone to listen to the album and turn it up and feel the warmth of the music.