Shonali Bhowmik began her professional journey as a lawyer but soon realized that her life could only be complete with music. As a singer, songwriter, comedienne, filmmaker, and an actress, Bhowmik experiences the best of all the worlds. In addition to her projects as an actor, she is a member of indie rock band Tigers & Monkeys with whom she will be releasing her newest album Saturday Destroyer. The album will be released in September.
Till now, Shonali has released six albums including her solo full-length release 100 Oaks Revival and those with her rock n’ roll outfits, Tigers & Monkeys and Ultrababyfat.
CelebMix talked to her about her upcoming album, her future projects, and her role in “Isn’t It Romantic”, a movie starring Priyanka Chopra, Liam Hemsworth, and Rebel Wilson. Check out the complete interview below:
You have been a lawyer and a performer. How did the transition happen? Please tell us about your journey as a performer and how has it been so far.
I actually started performing as a musician while I was in law school. I know it logically didn’t make sense to decide to go to law school and then start a band, BUT in retrospect, I believe my decision to attend law school set off an alarm within my head. A sense of urgency swept over me when I entered law school, in that I felt if I didn’t take immediate steps towards pursuing my music career, I would get locked down into a traditional legal career path without fulfilling my childhood rock n’ roll dreams. My musical aspirations developed early on in my life as a child. I was always singing and making music as a child and growing up in Nashville, TN had a direct influence on me. My best friend’s parents were in the music industry and through them, we got the opportunity to record and create professionally recorded music at a young age.
Being a part of an indie rock band, how do you place yourself in the music scene today (in terms of opportunities)?
The word “opportunities” and indie “music scene” don’t even equate to me. Using the term “indie rock” is a way to label music that is representative of people creating music on their own terms for the sheer fulfillment of just that – creating music; whatever results come from that is pretty much out of the musician’s control. There are indie rock acts that I do feel a kinship with such as Courtney Barnett, Twin Peaks, and Broncho. While they all make great music, they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously.
While indie music is an alternative genre but it has given us a number of memorable hits. How do you perceive the reception of indie music today, specifically indie rock?
There is the perception that “indie rock” is “cool music for cool kids.” But that doesn’t make any sense to me. There is no one style of “indie rock” so there is no way to generalize the current day level of appreciation for “indie rock.” I believe Florence and The Machine is still considered indie rock these days and they are huge. There’s no way to compare that band to another indie rock band with a much smaller following like Broncho out of Oklahoma City. The only similarity I find is that their origins include organically creating music on their own terms and not having a marketing scheme in place before the band existed.
Congratulations for Saturday Destroyer. Please tell our readers a bit about the album.
This album is our third full-length album and it is being released via my own independent label, Little Lamb Recordings. We started recording the album years ago and then due to some technical problems and some additional songwriting, we decided to start recording from scratch again last year. We recorded with Kenny Lienhardt at Threshhold Studios in Manhattan. We recorded live straight to tape with digital overdubs done at Jason Lam’s home studio in Brooklyn. Jason Lam also mixed & mastered the album. He’s brilliant. We had guest musicians come to sit in with us like Yazan Fahmawi, Marcellus Hall, Michael Laderman and Matt Whyte. We had a great time with our producer Kenny. He’s an official madman. Listen to his xylophone playing technique during the track Not Your Little Girl. Who else can do that?
While the album is sonically uniform, we did find a variety of emotions that songs evoke. What was the creative process behind creating this album?
The songs on this album were influenced by big changes within my personal life and the dramatic changes that have taken place in this country over the past few years. So one song is a commentary on high school love and them the next touches on sociopolitical issues including sexism and immigration.
Which song off the album is closest to your heart and why?
I think Magic Marker may be one that is closest to my heart. It’s a song about a forgotten woman. She had everything and then slowly lost it all. I wish I could help all the forgotten people in the world. The song touches on drug addiction and how it can quickly turn a someone into a noone.
Only a few weeks are left for the album release. How do you want people to perceive Saturday Destroyer?
Each song on this album come from with its own story. So in general, I hope listeners get that this music was made by a group of people who enjoy making music together, like to have a good time but also aren’t afraid of creating music that makes a statement.
You will soon be seen working alongside Priyanka Chopra, Liam Hemsworth, and Rebel Wilson in Isn’t It Romantic. Would you like to tell us a bit about the project?
I am a comedy nerd so being in a film with Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine was beyond exciting but add to that me being of South Asian descent, the chance to be in a film with Priyanka Chopra was a dream come true. She is Bollywood royalty. What I can say is that all of the stars in this film were so kind, grounded and generous throughout filming. I play Priyanka’s character’s maid of honor in the film. Hopefully, they don’t cut out my scenes (you never know) and you will see me in it February 2019.
Lastly, would you like to share with us your future projects or endeavors?
I host a monthly live variety podcast called We Don’t Even Know with my friend Christian Felix. Like every podcast, we started with the notion that the world would enjoy hearing our unique conversation: two friends, one being a biracial male and the other being an Indian American female – talk about life, the world and trivial things like Snoop Dogg changing his name to Snoop Lion. The show has been going strong for 6 years and takes place in front a live audience at the Red Room in the East Village. Our show includes a variety of guests including journalists, comedians, musicians and our personal trainers. Our upcoming lineup includes comedian Maeve Higgins, comedian Hari Kondabolu, and musician Camille Harris. Lastly, I have been co-creating a comedy pilot starring my friend comedian Katina Corrao. It’s damn good.
The album will be released next month. So, are you excited for the release? Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.