Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: CJ PANDIT

The fast-rising newcomer is giving us an insight into his debut project.

CJ Pandit sitting on chair
CJ Pandit sitting on chair

If there is one thing for sure, it’s that we can no longer put certain artists in a box anymore. With music becoming more universal and artists finding more ways to express themselves, we’re constantly being blessed with whimsical new music that consistently raises the bar. And while we try to anticipate ahead, CJ Pandit’s debut EP “Just Before You Disappear” threw us a massive curveball. From old-school country twangs to slow-burning lo-fi sensibilities, the artist effortlessly oscillates between genres throughout the EP, proving his musical capability and prowess. Opening his project with sparkling pop guitars on “Right Person, Wrong Time”, the Leicester-based singer cooly delivers a snapshot of an all-too-familiar situation, using folk-tinged melodies and retro bass lines to tell the story. Channelling the same gentle rhythms of the 1975 for “Bad Bad Fun”, the artist enters an effervescent indie-pop soundscape on the track, resulting in a bright and joyous single that brims with feel-good energy.

Getting candid on the project, CJ revealed that there was no conscious decision to create a genre-blurring project, stating that each single captures a moment in time that he wished to share, “I think I always look back on things and dissect them in a certain way and music is no different. Some kind of nostalgia, an aching to find that sweet spot between the euphoria and the sadness we all feel most of the time.”

Having spent the earlier half of the year cultivating support from BBC Introducing and NME’s 100, we sat down virtually with the artist talking all things music and staying sane in lockdown.

Check out the interview and EP below…

Hey CJ! How are you? How has this year been for you so far?
I’m good! Staying busy, staying sane. Despite the lockdowns and the strange predicament, we’re in it’s actually been mega. Releasing music, writing a whole heap more, creating some of my favourite things ever. I’ve really had to pinch myself and make sure I’m taking in everything that’s going on.

How did you first get into music, what is your earliest memory?
I remember being at school and talking about being in a band and all of the dreamy ideas you have to go along with that, hazy eyed 15-year-old me wanted to be in Muse or Avenged Sevenfold or The Maccabees… Kinda funny, me and my friends just started playing terrible music together and it’s been a very slow and steep learning curve ever since. There was always pop music on around my house growing up too, I think that’s subconsciously informed the way I write and create music

You’re originally from Leicester, do you think growing up here has impacted your sound?
Maybe. I think if you’re from a landlocked small city in the middle of the country you fantasise about getting out or away. Then when you do, there’s loyalty or some kind of kinship where you appreciate the weirdness of your hometown and what it means. Growing up with a real mixed heritage in an incredibly multicultural city definitely exposed me to experiences I wouldn’t have had elsewhere. I think it informs my words way more than anything else but there’s definitely a sound that this city is becoming known for now. There seems to be a really beautiful line of pop music coming out and it’s so exciting to be a part of.

You began the year being named as one of NME’s Vital 100 Artist for 2021, how does this make you feel?
Strange to be honest! It’s something I grew up reading religiously and hoping one day I might get in there myself. So to find that out was pretty crazy, to be honest. I was by myself in my studio so did the only thing any sane person would do to celebrate news like that, dance round the room to Sledgehammer. It’s always nice to be alongside artists you look up to as well, I adore Bree Runway and Josie Man, I think they’re both mega, so that’s nice to be in their company.

You’ve just dropped your debut EP “Just Before You Disappear”, what was your mindset going into it?
It’s been a real rolling experience. The phrase first popped into my head a couple of years ago as I was going through some real changes. I think we get scared of that and cling on to things and people and situations so much, rather than residing ourselves to the fact these things are going to happen and finding some solace and beauty in watching stuff disappear. It’s that feeling when you’re in such a blissfully unaware state and are so present in what’s going on, and then it dawns on you it won’t be here forever. Life’s fleeting and being a human is messy, so I’m trying to commit to finding the beauty in every little bit of it.

The EP touches on a lot of sounds, how would you describe it?
I think I always look back on things and dissect them in a certain way and music is no different. Some kind of nostalgia, an aching to find that sweet spot between the euphoria and the sadness we all feel most of the time. There are real high OTT moments that sound like Toto or Talk Talk or something, then there are some incredibly intimate moments too. Nothing ever really felt like a conscious decision, serving the song in the best way has always been paramount to me, so if that’s playing it all on an accordion and using something non-sensical as the snare then so be it. When you’re in that process I think it’s important to just make everything feel as true to yourself as possible and the weirder, braver decisions are always the most exciting.

CJ Pandit sitting on chair
CJ Pandit sitting on chair
CJ Pandit sitting on chair
CJ Pandit sitting on chair

What was the most memorable song from the EP that you made?
I really love everything on the EP, but I think it has to be New York Time. I was at a real low point, confused about where I was at in life and a bunch of situations were getting way too much to handle. I drove up to Liverpool to write and record and started hallucinating on the way. Big flocks of birds that weren’t really there were flying across the window, I think my body and mind were basically giving up and shutting down. What happened over the next couple of days was a bit of an out of body experience and I left with this song that felt like it had been plucked out of the ether. I don’t really have a recollection of the process, but I can always recall how much it helped me and how much Mike and Evelyn Halls helped pull me out of a real dark patch in life. I’m eternally grateful.

What do you want people to take away from the project?
I’m slightly unsure. When you finish something and put it out in the world it’s not yours anymore. I just hope it finds people at the right time in their lives. It means the world to me, so maybe it’ll mean the world to someone else too.

Who are your inspirations?
They vary every day in all honesty. Musically my cornerstone is Talk Talk and Mark Hollis, what they did through their albums blows my mind. His voice is so beautiful and the music is too. I adore Christine and the Queens as a performer and a musician and one day hope to share a stage with her. For my words, I’ll always try and get myself as near to Leonard Cohen as possible, if I’m 10% the lyricist and poet he was then I’ll die happy.

What’s next for you what are you most excited for?
Live Shows, real life! New music! EP 2 is already finished. I wanna just continue to create and make things that excite me and take them out into the world when we’re allowed again. There’s an idea for an exhibition which is getting me going at the minute. Watch this space.

Photography
Joe Vozza
NEW NOISE: CJ PANDIT

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