Delhi-based musician Shantanu Pandit’s van has been customised for the tour. Pics/Aarohi Mehra
On Tuesday night, the Delhi-based singer-songwriter rolled into the city of dreams from Baroda. Shantanu Pandit has been making music for around a decade, and finally embarked on his first real tour - The Milk Teeth tour - as a solo artiste. He landed at the Ahmedabad airport on August 5 with his crew, and pushed the accelerator in his customised van for the India tour. Pandit established himself as a solo artiste with his 2014 EP, Skunk In The Cellar.
He confesses he is not usually a fan of Mumbai*s weather, but this time "it*s nice". Sunday mid-day caught up with him on Wednesday, before his show in Harkat Studios. "I really enjoy travelling by road," says the Delhi-based musician. "There is something about traversing the country in a van with your crew and instruments, as opposed to just flying out to different cities. Historically, it has always been the mode of transport [for musicians]. It*s just so romantic." The van has been rented from Vahn, a startup pushing trucking venture, and has âShantanu Pandit and The Milk teeth tour* emblazoned across it, along with graffiti.
A photographer, director, filmmaker, his tour manager Moksh Arya and Dhruv Singh, the co-founder of Pagal Haina (his recording label), accompany Pandit. The van is his sanctuary when he wants to grab forty winks; and a travelling office. When they halt at a destination for a show, he spends his day making brand content, conducting sound checks and practising in it. "It just feels a little more special," Pandit says. "It will definitely be more memorable this way; and it*s something I*ve always wanted to do."
At Harkat Studios, his set was acoustic and intimate, like all others on his tour. In fact, all his gigs have been stripped to the bare minimum, and the venues aren*t predictable clubs. "My music requires a venue that is dedicated to listening," he says, adding "where people won*t be distracted by other sounds." A club works for a band, but they aren*t conducive to Pandit*s solo sets. "Since I*m playing alone, it will be soft music and that needs a soft room," he says.
While Pandit may be the first musician to go on the road literally, he believes the trend will catch on and be as popular as it is in the West. "It would be difficult for a band, but this would definitely work for a solo musician or DJ," he says.
However, this kind of travel comes with its own set of challenges. The weather has affected Pandit*s guitar and other instruments. "Ahmedabad was okay," he rues, "but by the time we reached Baroda, the guitar*s intonation was off and some electronics were affected by moisture. So the Baroda show was a bit challenging as I had to constantly tune my guitar." He had to redo his guitar set-up in Mumbai, and fears that he will have to go through this ritual in every city they go to as the instruments are vulnerable in the monsoons.
Despite this, he finds the road more relaxing than flights. "We have a lot of electronics, which would have been a nightmare at every security - loading them in and out. In a van, you can just do your own thingâ¦there*s a TV to watch movies and relax," he says. As Pandit and gang zoom off to Goa, Bengaluru, and Chennai, he is free to make pit-stops for local fare, something he is looking forward to. That sure beats airplane food.