We had the pleasure of speaking with Upasak Mukherjee recently and we found out more about Resolution (Berklee Two Track). Finding out more about India, travelling and Valencian orange juice, we hear how epic 2023 has been so far for this talented and humble creative.
It’s a pleasure to sit down with you Upasak. How was your 2023 been so far and what would you recommend as a healthy breakfast?
Upasak: 2023 has been really epic as of yet! I started the year off by taking my temporary leave from Boston and moved to Spain for the coming semester in Berklee Valencia. Other than all things music, I’ve been travelling around Europe and trying to learn about this beautiful part of the world as much as possible. Going with the theme of Spain, a healthy breakfast would be some café con leche and bocadillo with plenty of olives. Maybe on other days, some Valencian orange juice can substitute the coffee!
How has your connection with Berklee College of Music helped your career so far?
Upasak: After getting accepted into Berklee, I have been a part of some amazing collaborations and projects. Other than having uber-talented classmates and professors, some opportunities that arise simply from being a part of the college is mind blowing! I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the Grammy-nominated Indian Ensemble and record for the Grammy-winning producer John Paterno. I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with Rob Lewis and Kala Ramnath ji, both of whom have been part of Grammy-winning albums. I have also been a part of several performances in Berklee’s biggest venue, one of which has been streamed in the Georgetown Literary Festival. Recently, I have been featured on Berklee’s YouTube channel performing two of my tracks, including one original. I am also a board member of the Film Scoring Network club in Berklee and have had the good fortune of interviewing people like John Roesch, who has worked on the sound design of several iconic movies like Star Wars, The Dark Knight, the Matrix Trilogy, etc. Being a student ambassador, I have also represented my college at Interlochen Center for the Arts. These are just some of the things that come to mind, and this list is ever-expanding! I am looking forward to many more exciting things in the future!
What do you miss most about India?
Upasak: The food! After travelling outside India, I am convinced that Indian cuisine, especially Bengali dishes are the king of all food.
What advice would you give to emerging creatives in this industry?
Upasak: Don’t compare yourself to anyone. There will always be someone “better” than you in whatever field you are in. Be curious about what makes other people shine while being grounded in your own strengths. The good thing about being a musician is that it is a group activity. Take advantage of that. Collaboration is always a better alternative to competition!
What was the training like to be a tabla player, producer, composer and student of Film Scoring?
Upasak: I have been a student of the Tabla for a very long time! Learning the art of Tabla playing from my Guruji, Pt Subhen Chatterjee has shaped my entire musical identity. I have been lucky enough to have learnt the traditions of this age-old art from him and my newer musical adventures are definitely rooted in this knowledge. Film Scoring has also been a big curiosity in my musical life, and I am currently learning the technicalities of the art in Berklee. I have also been really inspired by Andrew Huang’s goofy music production videos and after taking his course, I decided to learn the art professionally. Currently, I am doing a major in Film Scoring and minor in Music Technology in Berklee. I regularly compose for scenes and am currently engineering and producing a few songs in the Berklee Valencia studios with my talented friends. Having a deep knowledge about these very different areas of music-making is definitely not easy and it takes a lot of time, effort and practice to get better. I am learning, creating and working hard in developing my craftsmanship in these areas every day and the growth I am experiencing in Berklee is very satisfying!
Please tell us more about Upa Chalupa” and “Tabla Solo (Rela)” by Pt. Subhen Chatterjee.
Upasak: “Upa Chalupa” is the latest in a series of music videos I have been working on since the last year. It all began when Desiree, who was in my harmony class, told me that she wanted to collaborate with me. These collaborations resulted in some Instagram videos that gained a lot of popularity in Berklee and eventually, I applied for the Two Track auditions and got in! “Upa Chalupa” is definitely the most elaborate of my rhythmic arrangements as of yet. It uses many elements from Indian classical music, like Sawaal Jawaab, Tukdas, Chakkardars, etc. I also like to learn and incorporate any rhythmic elements that I find attractive in my own compositions and hence, you will find sections with metric modulation, beatboxing, J Dilla beats, baião grooves, etc. All these elements make the track truly global! The Tabla solo is something that I learnt from my Guruji a few years back. It is a traditional composition in the cycle of fifteens. Even though it is a traditional composition, I incorporated the harp in this track, since the tone and the mood fit perfectly in this arrangement and this combination of instruments is very rare, resulting in another unique soundscape!
Last, how would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard a song before?
Upasak: This sound will brighten your day, make you dance and move, but also, it will make you count beats and look deeply into the rhythm! It will take you on a journey and fill your heart with joy!
Listen up on YouTube.
Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen