Ahead of the release of his forthcoming debut EP rapunzel, we spoke to singer-songwriter dhruv to find out more about his music and his memories of Singapore.
Raised in Singapore, with roots in India and the UK, dhruv grew up on an eclectic mix of Bollywood songs, 2000s pop radio and Frank Ocean. His debut hit ‘double take’ dominated viral charts across the globe and has over 180 million streams on Spotify alone.
In celebration of the announcement to signing with RCA Records, the 22-year-old singer/songwriter released an introspective new track, ‘stable life’. The song was written by dhruv and produced by Sam Ricci (SZA, Kendrick Lamar), and will be featured on his debut EP rapunzel due out on January 21, 2022.
Says dhruv of his forthcoming EP,
“’rapunzel’ is a scrapbook I’ve kept during a really important few years of personal growth. The title is in reference to a lyric in the closing track, which talks about our childhood selves often being our least inhibited and truest selves. In many ways, I think this project is about me trying to find that version of myself.”
The EP finds dhruv retracing the last four years of his life. Its narrative arc covers the transformative period following his departure from Singapore, where he was raised, to the formative years he spent in the US while studying.
We took a look at the creative inspiration behind some of dhruv’s music.
AL365: Hi dhruv, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thanks for taking the time to have this interview with us. Congrats on the success of ‘double take’. We are loving the whole dreamscape silhouette of the music video. Especially the light leaks and flares! Tell us more about the conceptualisation of it. What made you decide to shoot on film and what are some of the places in London that were used for the video?
dhruv: Thank you! Given the viral success of the video, I think there was a lot of expectation that I’d make a video that was really grand in scale. I thought about doing something like that for a second but decided that something more intimate and DIY felt truer to how the song was made and what it was about. I really just wanted the video to elevate mundane spaces and reflect how falling in love makes the world around you feel beautiful and exciting. We shot at an old warehouse, Primrose Hill (where I’d hang out with friends on weekends), by Woolwich Ferry and Kensal Green tube station, among other locations. Shooting on film was a risky choice because there’s no playback, but it captures colours and scenes with such vividness and beauty that it felt like the right one.
AL365: You grew up in Singapore – tell us about your favourite haunts here. For instance, if ‘double take’ was filmed in Singapore instead of London, what places do you reckon would have been used?
dhruv: The lanes and cafes around Tiong Bahru, Botanical Gardens, East Coast Park, maybe Clarke Quay.
AL365: ‘double take’ was released over two years ago, and it is now a hit. Tell us about this trajectory – what was it like, from the moment it was created, to its release, and right now to its success and how much it has resonated with listeners in South East Asia?
dhruv: After I just made it, I felt a wave of relief and euphoria. I had been writing music for years and had always struggled to find a producer who fit my needs as an artist, so I’d finally felt like I found that and made something I was proud of. Shortly before releasing the song, I panicked and contemplated not putting it out, but my friend Sid forced me to upload it. After it came out, and for a while, a lot of the excitement about the song was within my community and friends. I noticed some people on Instagram and YouTube started using it in edits, but it wasn’t until this summer that it started going crazy on TikTok. Never expected that excitement on TikTok to translate to people actually listening to it in their own time
AL365: What was the inspiration behind ‘double take’?
dhruv: ‘double take’ is about falling in love with a friend and the switch that happens, hence the question “Do you feel the love?”.
AL365: We also enjoyed your precious release ‘airplane thoughts’. What’s the story behind this song?
dhruv: This song is about leaving your lover and not knowing when you’re going to see them next. It’s told from my perspective, on the long airplane journey home, as I dwelled on our romance and worried about our future.
AL365: We understand that your debut EP rapunzel is slated for release soon. What can you share with us about how this record will sound like sonically, and how excited are you about its upcoming release?
dhruv: I’m really excited about it coming out. Sonically it is way more broad. There are a couple of ballads in there. I had strings arranged for one of the unreleased songs, which I can’t wait for people to hear. In general, I feel like it is a lot more introspective and deviates from solely looking at love and relationships. It’s an examination of where I was and where I am now, spanning a period of three or four years.
AL365: We heard that you’re inspired by the sounds of Frank Ocean, The Beatles, and Amy Winehouse. What is your favourite song from each of these artists?
dhruv: ‘Bad Religion’ by Frank Ocean, ‘Wake Up Alone’ by Amy and ‘Something’ by the Beatles.
AL365: Is there any artist, producer, director that you would love to collaborate with on your music one day?
The list of artists is endless. Producer-wise, Salaam Remi, Mark Ronson, Rostam, Pharrell, among so many others.
AL365: Besides the release of the new EP, what are you working on right now?
Practising the live setup. Some of the songs I wrote for this project are extremely difficult to perform so I’m just getting ahead of it and trying to sing in a healthier way. Also, I have a concept for my debut album and I’ve been trying to finish songs I’ve started for it and yeah just getting back into writing mode.
AL365: Where do you see yourself in the next two years?
dhruv: Hopefully playing big shows all over the world.
AL365: Is there anything else you like to say or share with your fans out there?
dhruv: I can’t say thank you enough. I really mean it. To be writing music for as long as I have, and to have it so warmly received is the most amazing and validating feeling. There are so many things that I can’t wait to share with you and of course, I can’t wait to tour and see you wherever you live.
RAPUNZEL is due JANUARY 21, 2022.