Saturday, 14 Oct, 10.05 am Deccan Herald

Sunday Herald
She's the music maker

It's tough to connect with her for a quick chat. After all, between being the executive editor of the Indian edition of the world's most iconic music magazine, a music critic, singer and performer, Nirmika Singh has very little time for anything else. And she is just back from the first ever edition of Sweden's Midsommar Weekender, an international music festival that featured some of the world's pathbreaking artistes.

Nirmika is fortunate.Of course, she admits it with signature candour. "I make a living doing what I love most: listening to good music, writing about artistes, attending concerts and observing music culture, in general. What more could I possibly want?" she says.

"In my capacity, I am able to focus on independent artistes in India and identify music trends. The best part about my job as an editor is that it allows me to be in the thick of things when it comes to music," she explains.

It was a gutsy move for Nirmika to relocate from her hometown (Delhi) to Mumbai. With a job at a leading daily as a music critic, Nirmika struggled to find her foothold initially in the city, while moonlighting as a music artiste. Slowly, things fell into place. And the band 'Nirmika & The Few Good Men' came about. Of course, it has been an organic growth over the years for her as she has been composing lyrics since she was in her teens.

"Writing allows me to be an observer, thinker, analyst and a journalist, while singing brings out the performer in me. Singing demands an instant connect, without any barriers of literacy or language. In that way, I find singing more challenging because the connection is on a more human, instinctive level," shares Nirmika.

What powers her is the "utter joy and privilege of documenting an intimate experience, be it an insightful conversation with an artiste, the experience of listening to and deconstructing an album, or the chance to identify a rising/declining musical trend. I enjoy having the best of both worlds!"

Nirmika recently featured in the Coolpad Cool 1 campaign. "I was approached by my friend Reinhardt Dias (guitarist with Mumbai-based rock band Blakc), who was, in turn, approached by the production house Red Ice Films to feature in the ad. They needed a woman vocalist, so Reinhardt asked if I could join them. All this happened over just a few days, and we put together a 'new band' with a motley bunch of real-life musicians from different indie bands based in Mumbai. Despite being a radical feminist, I was a little insecure about my body before the shoot, since we live in a world where media blasts picture-perfect images of women. Also, it was my first TV commercial. But all my fears were unfounded: the director and his crew were fabulous to work with and all they asked of me was to just be myself on stage!"

It's a wonderful life, but obviously with a challenging balance to strike between work and family. Nirmika counts her "darling husband Kevin Couto" as her Rock of Gibraltar. "He is my biggest supporter and my most honest critic," she confesses. "Though my full-time job sometimes leaves me with very little time for other things, I usually manage to work around this by packing a lot over weekends and on my days off. Yes, there are times when I would just like to 'Netflix and chill', but of late, I have come to realise that nothing makes me happier than a full day of work."

And then there are few things about her that very few know. That for her, writing in her mother tongue, Hindi, is the biggest way of staying true to her roots. That she loves any song from her favourite Steely Dan's album 'Can't Buy A Thrill'. That her dream performance would be to play her original material at a packed stadium concert... "I believe in the philosophy: 'Practise hard, learn your chops, and grab every opportunity to show your talents,'" she signs off.