Tajdar Junaid has been part of the independent music scene in India for almost a decade now. What started off as a passion for the guitar turned into a full-scale career in music for the 31-year-old from Kolkata. The first few years were spent honing his skills in blues and classic rock cover bands, but Junaid’s creative talent was waiting for the right opportunity to shine. This led Junaid to explore his own musical roots, and by 2009, he was playing with a group of folk musicians from Bengal in a band called Ruhaniyat. Ruhaniyat’s extensive repertoire of folk tunes, and the soulful and driven energy they put into their music, was soon noticed, and apart from playing in festivals, they also contributed to the score of the 2009 Australian movie The Waiting City. This led to more compositions for films for Junaid, including the critically acclaimed Aparna Sen film Iti Mrinalini in 2010.

Now Junaid is days away from releasing his debut album What Colour Is Your Raindrop. Mint spoke to him about the making of the album. Edited excerpts:

Tell us about the projects you are involved in right now?

Photo courtesy: Diptanshu Roy

What was it like making your debut album?

It was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It was an inward journey, an exploration of the self and also becoming aware of what shapes me as an artiste—my likes and dislikes and how I manage to convey my emotions through sound.

What kind of music can we expect on the album? There are quite a few collaborations there as well.

This album is an honest portrayal of all that has shaped me over these years. I don’t think of genres when I compose music but of things that affect me as an artiste. I’ve collaborated with some good friends who are great musicians too, and I’m lucky to have them on this album. Greg Johnson, who’s a multi-platinum-selling, singer-songwriter from New Zealand, has sung on the song Mockingbird. Anusheh Anadil, who hails from Bangladesh, and is one of the most talented singers from this part of the world, has sung on the album too. Vache, a very talented musician from Armenia, has played the oboe and the Armenian flute duduk. Fred White, who performs with the three-time Grammy-nominated band Acoustic Alchemy, has played piano on one of the songs, Aisle, and has mixed the entire album. All these collaborations happened over the Internet—through dedicated music social media sites like Myspace (www.myspace.com/tajdarjunaid).

What was it like working with White and how did the two of you get together?

He is probably the most patient guy in this world. I have driven him nuts with micro details trying to perfect the mix. I am very fortunate to have him help me achieve the best out of this mix. Not many engineers put their stamp on the music they mix, but he has unique sensibilities and that makes the songs stand out. He has top-quality gear and ace ears and, of course, impeccable aesthetics, and all of that shines through.

I met him on a music website called Soundcloud (www.soundcloud.com/tajdarjunaid) where we put our songs up for streaming and downloading. We heard each other’s music and we were interested in collaborating. He mixed one of my songs and I liked the uniqueness of the mix, so I asked him to mix the entire album.

Do you follow the indie music scene in India? What are some of your favourite bands?

I really dig what Blackstratblues (the solo project of guitarist Warren Mendonsa, http://www.blackstratblues.com/) is doing.The way Rudy Wallang and his band Soulmate (www.reverbnation.com/soulmateshillong1) has been pushing the blues scene here and getting respect on the international scene as well is also super.