Negotiating Oxytocin, the debut English-language album of 16-year-old singer-songwriter Upamanyu Mukherjee, is much more than teen angst, and packs a whole lot more substance than what one would expect from a debut work. Placed in the emerging Alternative Pop Rock and Experimental Pop genres, the album comprises seven tracks that offer listeners a
Negotiating Oxytocin, the debut English-language album of 16-year-old singer-songwriter Upamanyu Mukherjee, is much more than teen angst, and packs a whole lot more substance than what one would expect from a debut work. Placed in the emerging Alternative Pop Rock and Experimental Pop genres, the album comprises seven tracks that offer listeners a range of subject matter from poignant love to alienation to intense passion.
Built around Upamanyu’s innovative songwriting and new-age approach to composition and production, the songs are further embellished by his deep baritone vocals and, staccato delivery. The album benefits immensely with the experience of musician, sound engineer and producer, Onkar Tarkase, resulting in a collaboration that maintains the raw edginess of Upamanyu’s original compositions and production yet shaping it into an international quality musical offering.
The disarming honesty of the lyrics are well complemented by the earnest and non-conventional vocal delivery, resulting in songs that are likely to strike a chord with listeners searching for alternative perspectives on negotiating matters of the heart. Three of the songs (Friend, Lonely and I Love You) were released as singles in 2022-23 and received support from a wide spectrum of listeners and positive reviews from digital radio reviewers and play-listers.
Onkar feels the album reflects the monumental growth in Upamanyu from the first single to the end of the album. “The album grows in the depths of the emotions he has dealt with and how those emotions are mapped into melodies and lyrics. The sound design is where I saw a lot of growth as he brings really different soundscapes if the songs demand it. He is not at all shy to work with different sounds and that's a great quality to have and not be bogged down by trying to sound like someone else. The originality of his thought comes through his production and design.”
Mastering Engineer, Donal Whelan, who mastered the album, says, “It was a pleasure working with Upamanyu on his debut album. Remarkable songwriting for one so young.”
The album opens with a heart-break ballad, delves into self-reflection after a relationship, rises to the euphoria of a new love, makes one smile and ache with a tender ode to a special one, dives into the turmoil of a toxic-yet-compulsive relationship, takes one to the edge of alienation and depression in digital age reality, before pulling the listener back to the reassuring familiarity of experience and frolic.
“After making this album, I have come to realise that making a living out of being an artist in today’s music industry is incredibly hard,” says Upamanyu. “You only really survive off your own music if you make it really big, and that’s a one-in-a-hundred-million chance. Secondly, as the digital world advances, the need for songwriters is reducing. Nowadays technology can write you music, and it seems to be ushering out dedicated, seasoned musicians because basically anybody can do it. But I do not want to let worrying about the future affect the decisions I make right now - I want to live in the moment,” he says with clarity.
“More often than not, programmed music tends to take the feel away from the actually played music. That small error, the little note that’s off-time - these are all human features that elevate the song and make it so much more authentic which convey the emotion in much deeper manner.”
It is clear that Upamanyu digs deep into his life experiences to pen lyrics that reflect thoughts and feelings that are deeply personal and yet enigmatically universal. Each piece of music, each sound in the album has been carefully thought through and played out, even when digital sounds have been employed. From that perspective, ’Negotiating Oxytocin’ offers a good argument for why human songwriters working with human musicians may still be in demand.
Track List Friend (Remastered) 3:32 Lonely (Remastered) 3:58 I Love You (Remastered) 3:43 For You 3:58 Smithereens. 4:43 7:55 3:30 Fallen 1:50
‘Negotiating Oxytocin’ has been produced by Upamanyu Mukherjee and Onkar Tarkase in Pune, India.
Lyrics: Upamanyu Mukherjee Compositions: Upamanyu Mukherjee Vocals: Upamanyu Mukherjee Piano: Upamanyu Mukherjee Guitars: Onkar Tarkase Harmony Vocals: Onkar Tarkase, Upamanyu Mukherjee Percussion Programming: Onkar Tarkase, Upamanyu Mukherjee Sound & Mixing Engineer: Onkar Tarkase Mastering Engineer: Donal Whelan Music Producers: Upamanyu Mukherjee, Onkar Tarkase Executive Producers: Suma Mukherjee, Sanjay Mukherjee
Additional musician credits on tracks: Percussion on Smithereens: Abhishek Kate Strings on For You and Smithereens: Gaurav Korgaonkar Bass on Fallen, Friend, Smithereens: Amit Gadgil Rhythm Guitar on Fallen: Upamanyu Mukherjee Lead Guitar on Fallen: Onkar Tarkase
Album Cover/Digital Booklet Credits: Concept, Artwork & Text: Sanjay Mukherjee Cover Artwork Design: Vinod Hanchate Layout & Production: Ameen Shaikh
The album is accompanied by three official animated music videos and seven lyric videos. The music videos were created in Adobe Premier Pro with footage shot on iPhone 14 Pro. The animations and animated video clips were created with ToonCamera app by CodeOrgana.
Music Video Credits: Artist, Composer, Lyrics: Upamanyu Mukherjee Audio Recording Engineer: Onkar Tarkase Design, Artwork, Director & Producer: Sanjay Mukherjee Production & Editor: Ameen Shaikh
Recorded and mixed at ProDigi Studios, Sinhagad Road, Pune. All vocals (except ‘Friend’) recorded at Audio Talkies Studio, Lighthouse by Skyi, Erandavane Pune. Vocals of ‘Friend’ recorded at TSM Studios, Tilak Smarak Mandir Auditorium, Sadashiv Peth, Pune.
Digitally mastered at Hafod Mastering, St Hilary, Cowbridge CF71 7DP, Wales, United Kingdom, UK.
(C) 2023 Upamanyu Mukherjee; (P) 2023 Suma Mukherjee and Sanjay Mahendrakumar Mukherjee; All Rights Reserved.