Nishard Mayrhoo evolves as a musician during pandemic downtime

Nishard Mayrhoo placed third at the 2020 Chutney Soca Monarch competition held at Guaracara Park, Pointe-a-Pierre. - FILE PHOTO
Nishard Mayrhoo placed third at the 2020 Chutney Soca Monarch competition held at Guaracara Park, Pointe-a-Pierre. - FILE PHOTO

Chutney Soca star Nishard Mayrhoo said the past two years has been an eye-opener for him and was grateful for the downtime to reconnect with the roots of the artform.

He spoke with Newsday last week about the challenges and new ventures that covid19 presented to him and by extension the Indian music sector.

Mayrhoo said it was a time to reflect, assess and restrategise as an individual and as a musician.

He described the pandemic as a thief in the night that shut many sectors down and left the entertainment industry in shambles.

“We all thought it was something that would blow over in a few months and did not really grasp the seriousness of it. It was very stressful in many ways, especially mentally.

“For a lot of artistes this goes way beyond a means of living or making a dollar. This is an expression of self and expression of emotion. Not having that stage and the connection with the people that we are accustomed to, it ended up being bottled up inside for a lot of us.”

Mayrhoo, 34, said it took a toll on him, but upon reflecting on the last two years he was forced to grow in ways he thought were not possible.

“I went through a difficult time mentally, emotionally over the period, because not only did it affect my career, but also the impact and deaths that were taking place locally and globally. In that moment it was difficult...but looking back, it was also an important part of growing as an artiste, because it gave me a chance to do a lot of introspection in terms of what I want to achieve, the direction I want to take my music.

Chutney soca artiste Nishard "Nishard M'' Mayrhoo. - ROGER JACOB

“I see myself in the future as more than just an artiste, but to be recognised in the realms of a cultural ambassador, because I believe I have a lot to offer in chutney soca and the way that it is portrayed. It gave me a chance to step back and reset.”

One of his projects was opening a recording studio at his home in San Fernando, He described it as his fortress of solitude, where he was able to pen and express his emotions.

“The downtime allowed me to explore and find my new sound that was different from everything else that was happening in the local Indo-music industry.”

Mayrhoo is no stranger to the local entertainment business. He began singing at eight. In 2018 and 2019, he and Neval Chatelal collaborated and won the Chutney Soca Monarch title.

He weighed in on the state and direction of chutney music today, saying it has lost its originality and creativity. But as for the use of borrowed Bollywood melodies, Mayrhoo said it was a part of the genre’s evolutionary process and it would soon find its way again.

“Chutney has evolved in so many ways over the years that the current state needs time to mature and find itself. I think what we are going through right now with the Bollywood melodies is a movement within the artform.

“I do, however, feel the artistry of music is about creating your own melodies and doing things from scratch. We need to work on the way that we package the product (chutney soca) and how we market it.”

Carnival 2022 is not like any other Carnivals in the past. It has been carefully designed because of the covid19 pandemic to allow the entertainment industry to perform for vaccinated patrons in designated safe zones.

He is carded to perform at several shows during the season, including CZAR’s Riddim Nation theatre production and will represent TT and chutney
soca at Dubai’s world expo in March.

Mayrhoo also has stored in his back pocket several releases for after the Carnival season. Why? He believes chutney soca was a seasonal genre, butshould be enjoyed throughout the year.

“The uncertainty of Carnival made me reconsider the releases and I felt it necessary to keep it for a time (so) that it would be a little more effective.”

Other than singing, Mayrhoo said for Indian Arrival Day – May 30 – he and his team worked on a documentary series about the evolution of Indian music in Trinidad and Tobago.

“It depicts the transition of the genre from time it arrived on the ship (Fatel Razack) until this current point. It looks at all the phases it went through, all the major players and contributors, competitions and how the music changed.”

The series included 30 episodes, to be aired every day in May on social media platforms, and Mayrhoo said they were working on getting it aired on local television stations.


"Nishard Mayrhoo evolves as a musician during pandemic downtime"

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