In conversation with Shashwat Bulusu aka Bullu

For Baroda-based singer-songwriter Shashwat Bulusu, the journey from releasing his first song Raani to touring India has been a long road. He recently released a new single Forestfire on Spotify India. In a freewheeling chat, Shashwat, or Bullu, talks about his influences, the high he gets out of performing live across the country, and future plans.

Was music always the plan?

Music happened by surprise. I had started writing songs in school and I first sang with some juniors at a school funfair. After I finished school, I joined a comedy collective as a writer while studying law. A friend heard my songs and said that I needed to take music seriously. He kicked me out of the comedy collective. It broke my confidence, but for the next one and a half years I decided not to get on the stage and write songs.

I played my first gig at a friend’s rooftop. Surprisingly, I had a 100 people that day. I played 20 songs and they loved it. That’s the first time I thought I should take music more seriously.

I started approaching people to give me shows after that gig. I didn’t get any. Then the Fangirl Music Festival happened in Ahmedabad. Fangirl is one of the most important things to have happened in Gujarat’s music scene, as local bands got a chance to play with bands from across the country.

How would you describe the music you make?

I’d say it is narrative music. I won’t put it in a genre because I am experimenting with sounds. I write stories and then I turn them into songs.

There have been several comparisons between you and some other bands/artists.

To be honest, my first song Raani was very influenced by Prateek (Kuhad), which is why I don’t really enjoy that song. It is not something that came from me. I still regret it. People loved that song and it put me on the map.

With Peter Cat Recording Co. (PCRC), I really dug into how they approach songwriting as a craft. Before my Soundcloud project, I used to record songs which had these lo-fi sounds like that of a car going by. Then I spoke to Karthik from PCRC. He and Rana Ghosh who runs REProduce Listening Rooms heard these songs, and told me they were nice. When I used to listen to PCRC songs earlier, I did not understand their craft very well, I thought they were just effects-heavy. But when I did it on my own, I got into the same craft.

Comparisons do happen, and to some extent they are true. Prateek was not just an inspiration, I really went out there to sound like him initially. All that finally changed in the one and half year when I wrote songs and gave them my own sound.

How does your family feel about how things have worked out?

They are really happy with how things are going. But it is difficult to sustain. My parents were cool with me wanting to pursue music, but they tell me that I need something to fall back on.

Now it’s got to a point where I feel that I want to work in law. At the end of the day, I don’t want to do shows. I want to write songs. I don’t mind touring once a year or do 3-4 gigs. I want to be able to put out songs throughout the year.

Who are you listening to right now?

I am listening to The National. I love that band and they dropped their new album recently. I listen to a lot of Bon Iver. In India, I love PCRC, because they’ve given me the confidence to do what I am doing. When I am writing songs, I don’t listen to anything. I don’t want an incident like Raani again to happen to me. I want to retain my originality.

What are your future plans?

I have a bank of 40-50 unreleased songs, which I am putting under different categories according to their stories. The moment I have a full story ready, I will go to a recording studio. If I don’t have the money, I will start recording in my room.