Tuesday, January 17, 2023

An Interview with Prateek

Photo by Stephanie Houten

We've been covering Prateek for a few years here at If It's Too Loud..., and he's always been one of our favorite local singer/songwriters in the Boston area. Lately it seems like he's suddenly writing music on a whole new level and suddenly become one of the most intriguing artists in the city. His upcoming album (Til June, due out in the spring) seemlessly incorporates just about every genre within the roots category, and we've been absolutely blown away with every single we've heard. When the opportunity to interview Prateek about his upcoming album via email was presented to us, we simply couldn't pass it up!

Q: With your new album, you jump wildly between genres while keeping the album cohesive. What inspired such changes in your sound?

A: The music that I love, for sure. So many of my favorite artists - Foy Vance, John Hiatt, John Fullbight - have recorded albums where all the songs vary wildly in terms of sound and genre and yet they all work together. I’ve aspired to that ever since I started writing music.

Q: While your previous songs have been more solo/acoustic recordings, "Til June" is a full band affair. How was this different as far as recording goes?

A: Probably the biggest difference was having so many voices in the room. The upside of recording stuff by yourself is that you get to make all the decisions. The downside of recording stuff by yourself is that you have to make all the decisions. By working with Sean McLaughlin and all the talented players on this album, I got to hear loads of great advice and different perspectives on the songs. Instead of getting in my head and overthinking things, I had a whole team who wanted these songs to succeed as much as I did, and were willing to share their thoughts. Consequently, I think this one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.

Q: I was surprised that this is your first studio album. Have you tried putting out an album before this?

A: I put out one live album in 2020, but yeah, this is my first studio album. Putting together a good studio album is expensive these days, even when you have a lot of favors that you can call in. So I wanted to wait until I definitely had the money to make this work.

Q: What music helped inspire your new album?

A: John Hiatt for sure, especially his album “Bring the family.” And John Fullbright - his first two albums are some of my favorites. Great examples of artists who can jump wildly between genres while still putting together cohesive collections of music, as you mentioned before.

Q: What are you looking forward to once the new album comes out?

A: The fact that it will be done. And getting to tell people that it’s out, especially people I’ve never met before. I hope this album ends up being a firm handshake, if that makes sense.

Q: Besides your album release, what other new music are you looking forward to this year?

A: I had to go to Google to answer this question because I’ve been so far down my own little rabbit hole of video games and comfort-listening music. Definitely curious about Peter Gabriel’s upcoming album. And “Cracker Island” by Gorillaz - they’ve apparently done tracks with Stevie Nicks and Thundercat, which sounds like the best kind of fever dream.

Besides just the questions I asked, Prateek gave us some insight into the singles he's released off the new album!

  • You’re Still On My Mind: “You’re Still On My Mind” is one of two songs on this album inspired by an ex of mine. I first wrote it at the beginning of 2020 to cope with the then-fresh pain of the breakup. It was a lot of fun to write something that I could belt to the rafters, and when Sean McLaughlin put together a killer horn section for the recording on the album, I was absolutely delighted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iZ9yR-GAMA

  • Diamonds: I was scared that people would hate it. Thankfully, that turned out not to be the case. Ever since I wrote it, people have greeted this song with open arms. This meant, of course, that I had to nail down the perfect arrangement for a recording. I’ve tried it as a rock song (nope), a swampy, fiddle-led, acoustic tune (closer) before producer Sean McLaughlin and I came up with the lumbering, fuzzed out arrangement on this album. The road has been long, but “Diamonds” remains one of my proudest achievements, as well as a favorite of my late mother: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9W7s2sUehA

  • The Gang’s All Gone: The title popped into my head one day. I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with it until I started thinking about the stories my brother had told about his former drinking buddies from a darker time in his life. There’s a strong connection between addiction and emotional stagnation, and before I knew it, the lyrics were pouring out. I recorded and released the song on my EP “All You Do Is Drown,” yet the arrangement didn’t quite live up to what I had in my head. As was the case with all the songs on this album, the song was missing something, and that something was Sean McLaughlin and the phenomenal band he put together. Several takes and a whole lot of discussion later, we’d turned the song into a driving slice of rock and roll. It’s also one of my proudest achievements - possibly one of my favorite songs I’ve written in my entire life: https://open.spotify.com/track/2gp06NIOgC0dkZDc9lnQDZ?si=a93d8f2cd5534dfd

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