Before writing this article, I only knew one thing about Tina Sugandh – I hear she can play the tablas. Hence the name her fan base coined for her, “Tabla Girl.” I was quick to associate her to the beautiful face that usually graced show flyers and catered to the pop crowd, and I never heard much of her music. Nonetheless, in the process of writing this article, Tina’s story along with her music has me rethinking – “Can another pretty desi pop girl make it?”
Those of you that have followed Tina from the beginning know that her musical talent isn’t something she woke up with one day. It was years and years of hard work, dedication, and practice that sculpted Tina’s musical abilities. The making of her debut album took 3 years, approximately 7 days a week, and a minimum of 16 long hours a day in a studio. Titled “Tabla Girl”, the album will be released in Spring of 2009 and is available for pre-order on Tina’s website.
The album according to Tina, is a “genuine reflection of who she is.” After a crazy journey of ups and downs during her first album, Tina was lucky enough to channel “Tabla Girl” to be unique and her own. Yeah it does have some pop-esque tunes to it, but it also unveils a side of Tina that makes her real. She uses her lyrics to reach out to those who need a release or escape. In almost every track, the instrumental background will surprise you. It took over 11 instruments and counting to make up the beats you hear on tracks such as “Prisoner,” “Jao,” and “His Story.” Tablas, dhols, dholaks, santoors, bansuri, ghatam, harmonium, sitar, tanupura, damnru and naal are just to name a few of the instruments that you will hear a glimpse of, even if you don’t try to, in the background. The beauty of these tracks for Tina, and her fans, is that she was able to write all the lyrics and the melodies. So, “Tabla Girl” is essentially in one word Tina.
In her own words she describes the album as “organic and heartfelt.” The album isn’t only for the person who is looking for a good song to move to, but for anyone that just wants to let loose for a brief second. It does have a desi flare which allows those of us who love our Hindi beats to enjoy tracks such as “His Story” and “Jao.” For those of you looking to get up and dance my recommended track – “Break Me – The Chris Cox Remix.” Even though the album has more of a pop tune to it, “Break Me” seems as though it might even tap into the likes of the Techno groupie.
So when does album 2 come out? For right now, Tina’s not sure – as she is on a promotional tour for “Tabla Girl” and trying to make it as successfully as possible. Tina does hope to make her biggest challenge come true one day – and that is to be a household phenomena here in the U.S. As the music industry around the world has opened their doors to India’s unique sound, Tina still realizes that she has a long road ahead of her. So ladies, as it turns out, first impressions can be wrong. The girl’s talent and ambition matches her beauty – just listen for yourselves. – Kaveri Valliappan
This interview was conducted on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. Shortly after on December 3, 2008, Tina’s mother, Geeta Sugandh lost her battle to cancer with her family at her side. We at Sapna would like to take this time to offer our deepest condolences to Tina and her family. We wish you the best, and know that you will always inspire those to smile thru your music – just like your ma.