Bringing new tunes :

Posted by-Kalki Team

Almost a year ago, 22-year-old singer-songwriter Teenasai Balamu uploaded a very self-aware awkward video of herself performing Riptide by Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy. She was all soul as soon as she began strumming, which explains why she has become an anticipated voice in the indie scene in Bengaluru. “I guess a lot of the right people saw it.”

The next test was in May, when she played her first live gig under her moniker GrapeGuitarBox. Teenasai laughs about how she had performed songs at college gigs before, but recounts it as “the worst thing Id ever done” in true newcomer fashion. At her first GrapeGuitarBox gig, she had friends and family over for support, but it is not easy to get over the jitters despite an audience full of familiar faces.

Over the last year, Teenasai has uploaded 17 video performances, ranging from radio hits such as Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars Uptown Funk to Kings of Leons Use Somebody and Radioheads Creep and the cant-fail mashups of Hindi and Tamil songs. Her influences range from current rock/pop artists such as The Lumineers and Ed Sheeran, as well as what she calls “teenage throwback” artists such as Green Day, Linkin Park and Backstreet Boys. “Most of my gigs have been my own interpretation of covers. It has been my USP at this point.”

“I used to record songs on my phone – a broken one which Im talking to you on right now – the audio quality sounded good, and I didnt have any money to buy a proper mic.” Turns out, last December, for her birthday, her brother and sister-in-law pitched in to fulfil that wish, buying her a condenser mic that now enhances the quality of her recordings. “It changed the way I approached recording. When Id recorded my first ever song on my computer, I had directly plugged in and it wasnt great quality. This mic helps a lot,” says Teenasai.

She has been slowly building her repertoire of songs performing in Bengaluru and Chennai. There is not just covers on offer, but also her own songs. Teenasai tells us about compositions like 28, which is a reference to the infamous Death Club 27.

Teenasai, however, turns it into a positive song about living in the moment. Then theres Wait For You, which she admits is a “cheesy song,” presented with a waltzy melody. There is a third song that she might test at her upcoming gig, on March 25 at the Humming Tree in Bengaluru, but it doesnt have a title yet. “Im trying to make it heavy on harmonies, experiment with more time signatures and chord progressions,” she says.

For her Bengaluru gig, she is also presenting her music in a different set-up, jamming with percussionist Sidharth Ravi Minnasandram, from city act Indigenous Fakirs. Teenasai adds, “I usually play solo, but I like collaborating with new people. Everyone has a different style and that helps.”

GrapeGuitarBox (with support from rock band Polly Wants a Cracker) performs at The Humming Tree, Indiranagar in Bengaluru on March 25. Free entry.

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