Rounak Maiti, the artist currently based in New Delhi, explores new musical territories with his latest single. The singer-songwriter strays away from his usual indie and folk-pop sound to dabble in a footwork-inspired electronic production on ‘Give U Nothin’.
The song, created in collaboration with Sabu, was influenced by the music he was indulging in during the COVID-19 lockdown in Mumbai.
When asked about the story and the creative process behind the track, Rounak shares, “This song was born out of a period of intense isolation and quarantining in our hometown of Navi Mumbai where Sabu and I spent many a hazy afternoon feeling slightly existential, playing video games and thinking about the relationships we were feeling increasingly distant from. It wasn't all dark though, because it turned out to be this sort of incredible incubation period where I really got deeper into electronic and hip-hop production.”
He goes on to add “People like Brent Faiyaz, Ojerime, 702 and Janet Jackson were on heavy rotation at this time, so I was completely in that sort of melodic, nostalgic 90s r'n'b headspace, but I was also heavily into running in the Mumbai monsoon listening to DJ Rashad and Cakedog, so I was experimenting a lot with frantic, layered drum sequences inspired by juke music. All of these influences led to laying down the instrumental for ‘Give U Nothin’, which I first hopped on with a strong intention to bring reverb-y falsetto vocals. Sabu joined in for the second half with that infectious hook delivered in a lower, contrasting register.”
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As the lockdown restrictions eased, the singer recruited his close friends Karanjit and Sid to handle the production and direction for the music video. Shot on a modest budget, the video captures the essence of lockdown life, featuring the singers driving through Navi Mumbai's streets.
“Since we found ourselves stuck at home while making the track, we thought a music video would be a perfect way to summarise the vibe of making this song during lockdown. Sabu and I went on a drive through Navi Mumbai's iconic street Palm Beach Marg. We came across the Navi Mumbai lake, where Sabu insisted on busting a move, providing the most apt and iconic accompaniment to his verse,” remembers Rounak.
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In 2023, Rounak seems to have discovered newfound confidence in exploring and releasing electronic music. He lent his vocals to Okedo & Pluto Monkey's house track 'In Ur Eyez?' in March, then later in May put his remixing skills to use on Sijya's track 'Clear'.
‘Give U Nothin’ resonates as the perfect fit for a hypothetical 2024 remake of the iconic 2004 movie Garden State — a seemingly unnecessary remake which may not be as great, but has a great soundtrack just like the original.
Stream the track here.
Nishant Mittal is a Writer for Mixmag Asia, follow him on Instagram.