The Surrealist is a project founded by guitarist, composer and Berklee student Roopam Garg. Working in a trio setting, the band is about to launch their debut EP “Naked Awareness” on September 17th. Garg spoke for Progstravaganza.
Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?
Life’s going great man. I’m about to start another semester at Berklee. The band is going really really well. We publicly announced the band a few weeks ago, and the reception has already been so positive. I also just received a new guitar from Kiesel Carvin Guitars, and it’s literally my dream guitar. It just looks so beautiful, like a work of art that came from the ocean, and I can’t stop staring at it. I couldn’t be happier right now.
Speaking of new music, you have an EP coming out on September 17. What can people expect from “Naked Awareness”?
Naked Awareness is a pretty experimental release. There’s a lot of exploration of texture and rhythm that I wanted to do on the guitar, as it isn’t just a melodic or chordal instrument. The guitar has a lot of rich timbral possibilities that I wanted to exploit. Listeners can expect some pretty interesting idea that they may not have heard before.
What was it like working on the EP?
It was really inspiring and a lot of fun but at the same time also really stressful. The entire EP took two to complete in terms of the songwriting and recording process, which is not sustainable in the long term. This is primarily from becoming really judgmental during the end of the entire process, which really kills the creativity and flow. But it turned out really well and we’re proud of the release.
Are there any touring plans in support to “Naked Awareness”?
Oh yeah. We plan on touring early next year and it would be our first tour, so we’re really excited and looking forward to it.
While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?
I’d love to tour Europe and Asia. Just the idea of traveling to different countries where there are a plethora of different cultures and audiences is really cool. I feel like being exposed to many cultures would impact my creativity somehow, which is something I’m looking forward to. India is also a country I’d love to tour in, as I rarely travel there but love it every time I do.
Who and what inspires you the most?
A lot of things inspire me in some way. In addition to musicians, I love reading about Elon Musk, Gary Vaynerchuk and other successful entrepreneurs and follow what they do. Business and entrepreneurship have greatly impacted the way I write music, as I’m constantly thinking about innovating and looking for things that other people may not have explored yet. Questions such as,“how does one differentiate the customer experience?” can really force you to find ways of becoming more creative.
What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?
Definitely. I’ve made a conscious effort to not listen to much guitar-driven music, just to experiment and see if it spruces up my guitar playing. So I’m currently dwelling in a lot of film soundtracks, such as Angelo Milli’s Seven Pounds soundtrack, Hans Zimmer’s The Dark Knight soundtrack, and David Julyan’s The Prestige soundtrack. I’ve also experimented with taking a break from listening to music, and not hearing anything at all for a couple of months, just to see if it would impact my creativity. And interestingly enough, I find that there’s a certain creative headspace that’s achieved by doing so. I’ve been able to come up with certain ideas on the guitar are unconventional and that I become surprised by, like “where did this come from?”. It’s always nice when you surprise yourself.
I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?
May you always do what you’re afraid to do! Thanks for having me.