Praveen Alva

A pleasure to talk to Architect & singer-songwriter Praveen Alva from beautiful Mangalore, Karnataka. We talked about his latest single called ‘Prarthaney’, his favourite artists, growing up and the growing independent music scene in Mangalore.

Musicmandir – Hi Praveen, tell us a little about yourself?

Born and brought up in the coastal city of Mangalore, I grew up surrounded and fascinated by the rich culture of the land. I was always aware of my creative inclinations, so I surrounded myself around the art/theatre/culture groups throughout school and college. Now I’m a practicing architect and music as it always was, is still a part of me. I remember singing from a very young age but never saw it as a skill that should harness. I sang to keep myself and the people around me entertained. I started learning guitar from 2011, after the early start-stop phase, I got hooked on to it.

Singing at friends’ weddings, jamming with colleagues helped me get better at it. After writing a few melodies, I tried to understand the aspects of songwriting but after writing a few songs in Hindi, I thought of writing one of the songs in my mother tongue Tulu. It changed my attitude towards songwriting, now I could access childhood memories and emotions and convey them clearly. After writing 15 songs in Tulu and singing it out in open mics and a few curated gigs for the last 2 years, I decided to record my first single last year. At present, I’m writing as many songs as I can in this lockdown situation. The plan is to write 40 songs and maybe release a few singles on the way, then probably drop an EP. In this process of  creating music hopefully, I’ll understand myself and my mother tongue better.

Musicmandir – What was the inspiration behind the track ‘Prarthaney?

My first single ‘Prarthaney’, which translates to ‘Prayer’. The song is about ‘calling God as a last resort to come and save us and save what he has created’. After I had the melody with me I fiddled around with few concepts for the song, then deciding to reflect my environmental concerns for the region.  Lyrically I tried to bring attention to the declining coastal environment through a veil of a prayer. 

Watch the music video for Prarthaney below –

Musicmandir – Can you tell us about the other musicians if any part of this song?

The song was produced by Ranjan Das (Ex-Kids Records) who also performed additional guitars duties. Mix & Master & percussion by Eshaan Dwivedi (Awakened Sounds Studio, Germany), Bass by Jude Pereira (Psylence Recording Studio, Bangalore)

Musicmandir – It’s wonderful to hear singers embrace their own language and styles which you have so well. Could you give us 5 other artists who’s music has either inspired you or you love listening to.

I love mixtapes and to enjoy shuffling music. I listen to varied artists and bands to find a mood for the day. If I’ve to pick, these would be my comfort artists

1. Pink Floyd – a favourite of mine. The way they conceptualized and produced the Dark Side of the Moon and Division Bell is fascinating. Because they are a band formed of art and architecture students, which got my extra attention.

2. Tinariwen – a band from a region in the Sahara Desert in Mali known for its beautiful melodies which seems like it was lingering in the air for centuries. Their songs are about and around life in the desert, a delightfully mystic sense to their sound.

3. John Mayer – Great melodies and the underrated quality of his melodies to be ‘Humm-able’ attract me to his music.

4. Raghu Dixit – I had never heard Kannada in the sound that he puts it in, modern yet rooted in its essence. He is one of the artists who made me think about writing in my mother-tongue.

5. Parvaaz – I heard them live a couple of times, I could not get them out of my head after that. Khalid is just an amazing vocalist, truly mesmerizing.

We reviewed PARVAAZ performing in Mumbai and if you’re wondering how incredible they are check it out here.

Musicmandir – Do you feel singing about God or spirituality is something that makes songwriting easy or was it just something that came naturally?

Not necessarily. I usually start with melodies and rhythms while writing the song, when I roughly finish the structure then I think about the theme. I try to give myself different themes while writing lyrics sensing the mood of the song. With my first single, I thought about talking about the environment through a prayer. 

Musicmandir – How would you describe the music scene in Mangalore? Maybe some pros or cons?

The music scene in Mangalore in mostly influenced by Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam film industry. Lot of songs you will find on YouTube having a melody of a well known Kannada or Hindi song with someone putting Tulu lyrics to it. Tulu film industry is coming up with new contents but it has its own limitations to test new sounds and themes. Lots of talented musicians from the region are working in different studios and bands across India, which indicates that there is no lack of talent. If we detach ourselves from plagiaristic approach to song writing, the region can produce great things with its talent pool and one of the unique languages in world.