Ankit Dayal: ‘Prioritising My Solo Work Was a Chance for Me to Chisel Out a Space That Was Mine’

The Mumbai-based singer-songwriter is now out with his full-length debut album ‘Tropical Snowglobe (Side A)’

Mumbai-based artist Ankit Dayal. Photo: Likla L

After releasing the 12-track album Lead Feet Paper Shoes with his alternative-rock band Spud in the Box in 2016, Mumbai-based musician Ankit Dayal found himself being tapped in to perform with other artists including Dhruv Visvanath, Saachi, Sid Vashi, Noni-Mouse as well as the Living Voices Choir and Symphony Orchestra of India at the National Centre of Performing Arts. Add to it the commercial work he was being asked to do as a playback singer and voiceover artist, and Dayal says, “After going through the long process of making Lead Feet Paper Shoes, learning as much as we could from the great (audio engineer) K.J.Singh, I wanted to personally further expand my horizons as a producer.”

Dayal would go on to spend time with Mumbai-based producer Ayan De at his home studio and watch and learn. “He’s incredibly generous with his experience and knowledge and I’ll always consider him a mentor for that,” Dayal says. With all of this experience now under his belt, the musician released his debut solo single in the shape of the dreamy “Am I in the Way?” in 2019. He says, “The song itself is about letting my voice come into its own, essentially getting out of my own way.”

Once the pandemic hit in 2020, Dayal found himself with lots of more material in his locker, the result of which is his 11-track debut album Tropical Snowglobe (Side A).

Although he worked well in a cohesive band or collaborator setting, Dayal was always keen on tapping his own potential as a solo artist. He says, “Prioritizing my solo work was a chance for me to chisel out a space that was mine, built just for me.” He adds, “I could funnel my influences to make music that can emotionally connect with and move as many people as possible – to exhibit my unique background and voice, throw audiences off-kilter only to pull them back closer again.”

The artist also says that the songs on Tropical Snowglobe (Side A) are the most personal he’s ever written. Sonically, he drew inspiration from an eclectic list of artists, from Kishori Amonkar and Kishore Kumar to Queen, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Foo Fighters, J Dilla and D’Angelo.

The album is a beautiful amalgamation of sounds. There are R&B-laced offerings to hypnotic sonic textures as well as Dayal’s signature vocal hooks, harmonies, dynamism and stellar delivery.

About the record opener, “What You Need To Hear/Suffer,” the singer-songwriter says, “It’s the perfect example of the inner and outer voices in my life that this album has become an outlet for.” 

Older songs such as “Frowning Sky” and “Good Way To Die (Quarantine Edition),” which have been around since the early 2010s, “encapsulate that youthful exploration and hopeful daydreams that felt like second nature back then.” On “Domino” and “Floating For Tips” (which features Spud in the Box drummer Joshua Singh on bass), Dayal showcases his somewhat “jaded and cynical side that still yearns to please, but relishes in harmonic melancholy and polyrhythmic chaos.”

The singer-songwriter enlisted help from his mother Preeti Mamgain on the Hindi track “Sojourn/Hava Hoke,” which is “a love letter to escaping the concrete jungle and chasing a life closer to nature.” On the cinematic tracks “K0B,” “1800-DRAGON” and “B4U,” Dayal stretches his love for dramatic characters and story arcs that he enjoys building.

Talking about the sound of the record, the artist says, “It is loud but polished, composed but chaotic, lo-fi but crystal crisp.” He adds, “The title Tropical Snowglobe is intended to evoke this dichotomy while bringing out the seasonal and lawless nature of the words and music. It is everything I’ve wanted to experiment with, washed over by my love of danceable grooves and sing-along hooks.”

Dayal tells us that taking the music on the road whether as a solo performer or in a band setup is definitely on the cards. With a music video already out for “Swimming By,” the singer-songwriter and his partner Likla Lall are planning to release more clips for the rest of the tracks from the album. Besides Tropical Snowglobe (Side B), which is set to be released over the course of the year, Dayal is also working on an EP and short film with photographer and videographer Parizad D. The artist also plans to produce for other artists after he sets up a studio in Wada, which will also double as the headquarters for his scriptwriting/content-developing production house called Tell Tale Media.

As for Spud in the Box, Dayal informs us that they haven’t met as a band in years. However, he adds, “In many ways, we continue to be each other’s biggest fans and supporters, brothers and confidantes to the end.” 

Stream Tropical Snowglobe (Side A) on Spotify below and on other platforms

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