The March release of The Unknown, the debut record from formerly Dubai-based musician Gayathri, marks the end of a long journey. After years spent immersed in the fledgling U.A.E. music scene and, more recently, a self-funded tour of London and Paris, a highly successful indiegogo campaign and a move from Dubai to London in March of 2012, Gayathri entered her home studio in July of last year, laying down material for The Unknown over four months with regular collaborator, producer Reiner Erlings.
“A lot of songs on the album had been written a year ago, or two, or three,” Gayathri says, checking in from Mumbai. “But I wasn’t ready to put out a full-length album at that point, or I was trying to find the kind of songs that I wanted to write.” During recording for The Unknown, Gayathri also penned a number of new tracks specifically for the album. Which made selecting the final 12 tracks an interesting process. “It was hard and it was simple,” Gayathri says. “Some songs, you just knew that they absolutely had to be on there. But there were others that we played around with in the studio, and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work. A lot of the time it’s quite heartbreaking to say that a track is not going to be on the album. There’s one called “Love Our Way” that I wrote when I was in London about the love story of my parents. So it was a song that I was really attached to, and we even recorded a scratch for it, but it just didn’t work with the family of songs.”
Some tracks proved easier to work on than others. “We kept hitting walls with [“Greatest Love Story”],” Gayathri says. “We would record it, and it wouldn’t sound good, so we kept going back. When we first started it, it was a piano ballad. We completely flipped it around, did a whole guitar arrangement for it. Once we set on the guitar path, it really bloomed as a song.” Conversely, on “Chhoti Baatein,” Gayathri and Erlings opted for a more immediate approach. “That was just a piece of cake,” Gayathri says. “I got in the room, I had my guitar, and I sang live. One take. Then we layered some sansula on it, and added some bass, and that was it.”
Gayathri will accompany The Unknown’s release with a series of gigs – probably in London, Mumbai and Dubai, and tentatively slated for April – and a summer tour to the U.S.