After recent years spent honing his craft as a songwriter, Cairns-based artist Kanishk is gearing up for the release of his debut EP, In The Water this June. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter has a beautiful and unique vocal style, calling to mind indie-folk contemporaries such as Matt Corby, Vance Joy and Jose Gonzalez. In The Water is an honest glimpse into Kanishk's past and present, showcasing warm fingerpicking techniques and stripped back vocals. The EP is melancholy; the simplicity allowing Kanishk's sombre tones to be heard clearly throughout. For a debut offering it showcases a maturity of sound and is an apt representation of the musician's innate skill as a songwriter.
In The Water is produced by renowned Cairns-based producer Mark Myers (The Middle East/Emma Louise/Leanne Tennant/Brealyn Sheehan) and mastered by Grammy award-winning engineer William Bowden (King Willy Sound/Gotye). The five-track release delves into acoustic folk, indie-rock and blues, delivering an accessible, familiar sound that is not dissimilar from the instrumentation of The Middle East, Sufjan Stevens and Ben Howard. Although Kanishk acknowledges his influences, he is quick to point out that his sound is his own.
'I have been influenced by numerous talented guitarists such as Ben Howard, Matt Corby, John Butler and Nick Mulvey," he says. 'Only after developing my skills on the guitar did I learn to incorporate vocals into my music. I think my style draws similarities to each of the aforementioned musicians, but over the last couple of years I've learned to create my own sound."
Kanishk started writing songs at the age of 19, which quickly escalated into YouTube vlogs and performances. 'After a couple of years of posting music on YouTube and then getting a positive response from live performances I thought if I wanted to pursue music any further the best thing for me to do would be to record an EP and showcase my music to the world," he says of the decision to take the plunge with a debut recording. 'Having professionally produced content on an EP will hopefully enable me to reach a greater, more diverse audience."
On the one hand, In The Water explores themes of temporality and loss; on the other it pays homage to new beginnings and friendship. It chronicles Kanishk's development as both artist and man, unapologetic and self-assured in its delivery. 'Much of the record revolves around the theme of the temporariness of human interaction," he says. 'Many of the songs explore the impact of cherishing the time you spend with those around you, whether it involves friends, family, partners or strangers."
Nature is another theme explored frequently throughout In The Water, with the track Dripping being a direct homage to the lush tropical beauty of Cairns. 'When I write songs I like to find outdoor spots in different environments and I tend to use metaphors based around elements of nature," he says. 'The inspiration behind the tracks stem from encounters I've had with people in the past, as well as certain events in my life at the time of writing."
The key track and the first track off the EP – Trance – encapsulates the overall indie-folk style of the album – It's the perfect introduction to Kanishk. 'Trance is a song that I feel represents the EP well," he says. 'It's a very easy, laid back song that's neither the most mellow nor upbeat song on the record. It's the perfect medium. Over the past year Trance has been my most popular song among friends and the local music community."
Originating from Melbourne and now residing in North Queensland, Kanishk is definitely an artist to watch, having already appeared on numerous festival bills and achieving Triple J airplay. In 2015, he was a feature artist on the international online music platform Balcony TV and he was also selected to play as part of the Spotlight Showcase at the Cairns Festival. He is a regular on the performance circuit in North Queensland.
With the EP ready for release, Kanishk is looking to the future. 'My main goal for this EP is to get more people to enjoy, share and appreciate my music," he says. 'After the June release I plan to tour the EP at the end of the year. I'm interested to see where this EP takes me…I'm hoping it will open up new doors for further musical pursuits."
Kanishk's debut EP In The Water is released independently on Friday 3rd June 2016.
For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/kanishkmusic
Question: How would you describe your music?
Kanishk: I'd say acoustic indie folk with roots and pop influences.
Question: What can we expect from the debut EP In The Water?
Kanishk: It's mostly mellow laid back folk tunes, some are more upbeat and others are more stripped back. It's something I've been working on for a while so it's great to be able to finally share it around.
Question: Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry?
Kanishk: Not in particular. I was pretty aware of what I was stepping into and the challenges involved.
Question: Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration?
Kanishk: I do. They're inspired by anything and everything, it really depends on what I feel like writing about. I find that if I start writing something I like to finish it in one sitting and then slightly tweak it for a couple of weeks before calling it complete.
Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Kanishk: I listen to a pretty wide range of stuff. I'm a big fan of where Aussie electronic music is going at the moment. Artists like RUFUS, Alison Wonderland, Flume and SAFIA are a few favourites.
Question: What's next? Tour/Album/Single?
Kanishk: A tour is planned for December 2016 which I'm really looking forward to, and then hopefully get back in the studio afterwards to release some more tunes.
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Kanishk: Not really. This was my first time releasing music so I took my time with the whole process and I had a few local musicians helping me out along the way.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Kanishk: Performing live is always fun because you have a crowd and sometimes people really enjoy your music, but I like the fact that in recording you can add layers to a track and essentially take an idea of a song and turn it into something else.
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Kanishk: Probably the music community in Cairns. I found that a lot of people I met were recording and releasing music themselves, which made it seem like a more realistic thing to do. If you asked me 2 years ago when I was in another city if I think I would ever make a record I would probably have said no.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Kanishk: Figuring out all the behind the scenes tasks and organisation involved in releasing a record.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Kanishk: Naps like you've never napped before.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Kanishk: Seeing which songs people enjoy the most. Most of the time it's not the ones I think would be popular when I'm writing them.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Kanishk: Flume. Quite the long shot but if I ever had the opportunity I think we could come up with something crazy.
Question: Do you have a website fans can visit?
Kanishk: I have a Facebook page where I post gig updates and video recordings. (www.facebook.com/kanishkmusic)
Question: Can you tell us 5 things required for a happy healthy & enjoyable life?
Kanishk: Food, water, shelter, family, Tinder.
Question: What message would you like to say to your fans?
Kanishk: It's winter now I'm going to switch you off.
Full Name: Kanishk Chaudhary
Star Sign: Pisces
Favourite Food: Burgers
Favourite Film: Not sure but my favourite show is definitely Breaking Bad.
Person You Would Most Like to Meet: Philip DeFranco
Hobbies/Interests: Massive foodie
First Job: Subway
Are you a Pub, Bar or Club kind: Bar
What Can You Never Leave Home Without: My phone
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning: -Please don't be late'
Interview by Brooke Hunter