Letter To Self
This song is everything. If it wasn’t for Inder announcing it being from the Colindale Tape in his inimitable East London drawl, you’d think it was recorded in a small smoky club in Detroit… It oozes blues, jazz, and… it just makes me want to sing into my imaginary microphone.
Letter to self: Get a hairbrush. They sound better.
See what I did there?
What can I say about the vocals…?
Where do I begin???? Everything about the vocals – let me say it again. EVERYTHING ABOUT THE VOCALS take you to church.
Inder is the kind of guy you want to hire to sing when you want to propose to your significant other.
Yeah I said it. Keep your John Legend.
I know who to call when I find my significant other.
His soulful voice calls forward the spirits of Bill Withers, Percy Sledge, Marvin Gaye with gospel undertones, which from my interview with him tells me that’s not an accident. The MVP here by the way is the guitarist, he’s playing two parts, the chord progression and then some counter melody underneath the vocals to keep it discreet. The guitars are separated in the mix, left and right. After my third listen I was like… where’s the Hammond???
You know what? There isn’t one.
Do you know what else?
It doesn’t need it. And that’s hard for me being a veteran keyboard player to say.
Don’t fall asleep on him. Seriously. DON’T!
Inder Paul Sandhu is a singer/songwriter/rapper/fashion des- oh yeah. We don’t talk about that. Anyway, he’s from East London, he’s got the honour of being played on the BBC Introducing Mixtape from Tom Robinson coming up, he’s also got a big love of chicken – I hear you brother. I hear you!
He’s also got such a positive energy and a deep faith like myself and it’s worth listening to “The Colindale Tape”. You have not heard the last from him.
TALKING TO THE SONGBIRD
Congratulations for getting onto the Tom Robinson mixtape, how does it feel?
It feels flipping brilliant, I’ve desired to have my music join the ranks ever since I became acquainted with the movement. It’s a sincere celebration of sound that I get to partake in and I’m grateful for that.
What’s the story behind Letter To Self?
I had fallen into a very bad habit of writing off a whole day, week or month just because of one or two bad events that took place or even words that were said to me. I also didn’t feel like the people around me were seeing me in my struggles as I saw them in theirs. I got so toxic that at one point I was purposely trying to pick fights with strangers on the road on my way to work. Self talk is a real thing and also a very present thing because it’s ongoing. When a friend of mine or loved one of mine is hurting I try to be there for them, help them see straight, show them love, a better angle and all that good stuff you know? … I can be very caring and empathetic towards others, but not myself. Things ain’t that bad if you can sing about them. It was just a bad day mate, not a bad life.
It’s part of a wider body of work, The Colindale Tape. How’s that coming along?
So I released The Colindale Tape, on January the 16th 2020 and its reception has been a sweet one man. I’ve widened my audiences and my coverage from the attention of the respective media outlets that would cater for those new people, track 3 was the second time a song of mine had been made Track Of The Month by the BBC, which was totally unexpected. To be honest The Colindale Tape is still going strong, and continues to pleasantly surprise me… it made way for our conversation today you know ? And I’m most grateful to God for continuing to open door after door for me. A fun fact about the tape Derek, we shot all 4 videos for it in 36 hours… I slept real good after that.
You’re a singer/songwriter from East London, how did it all begin for you?
I always wanted to get into music from a young age. My desire was to always sing from as early as I can remember, but just lacked confidence you know? I think I tried to write lyrics when I was in grade 3 and made the mistake of showing a teacher, who just basically said they were crap, along with a whole bunch of other moments that totally crushed my confidence. Things started to get a breath of life at the age of 16 when I started getting into poetry. Watching ‘Def Poetry Jam’ really catalysed my pen game, because up until then I would never pick up a pen to write any lyrics. As I did this my poems would morph into raps and then back into spoken word pieces, but this I did in silence. When I was around 20 I ended up sharing some bars with two of my best friends who I wasn’t that close with at the time and from there RUTS and Unique Creation, (that’s their names) literally took me under their wing and taught me everything about performing you know? Like stage presence, interacting with a crowd etc etc and off I went spitting bars with them. Eventually built up my confidence to rap solo when I was around 22, which again then morphed into singing at the age of around 24, 25 and I ain’t looked back at all. Confidence is still an issue for me, but I’ve learned to silence that voice.
What did you listen to growing up?
EVERYTHING! Derek! Everything! Now that I reflect back on it though my family were traditional, they were also quite liberal and that liberty certainly took shape in the music that was spun in my house. We had Indian Classical Music, to Abba, Michael Jackson with Red Rat, Bob Marley, Boyz II Men and even a little Pavarotti. I was also left alone with the TV a lot haha, and weirdly grew fond of rock, especially The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. We didn’t have a Playstation so when their song Dreamacalifornication came on I would turn the remote sideways and pretend I was playing a video game.
Your sound goes from rap to soulful rock, how does writing typically begin for you?
It’s interesting with Rap, it’s more the melodic aspect to the flow that comes first, so I know how I want my flow to sound and then the words appear in my mind. To be honest writing bars is quite messy for me because once it’s out of my head I keep flipping the sentences over and around on the paper, whereas singing it’s melody second lyrics first, and the majority of those lyrics are either conversations that I’m having with myself and I say a line that I think wow you just said something and I keep repeating it until other sentences appear in my heart, or there literal dreams that I put into lyrics. Singing is definitely more of a cleaner and clearer process for me. For me Rap’s from the head and Singing’s from the heart.
You are also a fashion designer, who are your favourite designers?
Right Derek please don’t cancel this interview, but I am not a designer! (This made me laugh!!! D.O) I took some dodgy advice from a publicist who convinced me I was and before I knew it, it got plastered everywhere: my EPK, website even in bloody Londis mate. The way I see it is I just like to switch things up and upcycle you know? I make some rough ideas, drop them off to my tailor Nabz, and he does his thing. As far as a favourite designer, Dapper Dan did inspire me to get up and try, he’s sick.
2020 was a time to reflect, what did you learn about yourself?
It was indeed a time to reflect a lot on our escapes, things we could masquerade behind were taken away from us or restricted, and a lot of us were forced to reconcile with ourselves — great question man. I honestly can’t say I learnt anything new about myself. I just grew deeper in my understanding of everything you know? Before Corona hit I already knew I weren’t a yes man or a man in the majority, I already knew I have to go out everyday to stretch my legs, I already knew I needed to read my bible more and give God His just Glory and Honour, I already knew I had to go out and get this bread, because love alone wouldn’t translate into money for my elderly parents. Honestly my character and my understanding of myself was only affirmed… with all of that being said though Derek, I learnt how to skateboard and started playing the guitar, both of which I am currently still doing.
What kept you motivated in that period?
Knowing that nothing is forever man, there is absolutely nothing new under this sun or on this planet that we tread foot on, we just gotta survive and thrive in all conditions because it will pass. My faith in Christ is the foundation to everything I believe and do, except the dumb stuff I take the credit for, but the good stuff yeah thats all Him.
What are you listening to at the moment?
So a friend sent me a link to an artist called SiR, the tune’s called New Skies. Sick tune man. In general though I’m listening to Lianne La Havas, Ray Charles and Evanescence. Those are the artists my ears have been wanting to hear this week.
You’re from East London, a vibrant part of the city what are your three favourite things about it?
Number 1, I like the laid-back bicycle culture, there’s some mad drivers on the road so I don’t really like to cycle on it. I prefer the footpath because more or less no one says anything, they’re kool man.
Number 2, There’s easily accessible chicken, which is a necessity when you’re Inder Paul Sandhu.
Number 3, The whole space is like a Pokémon game because there’s so many hidden gems, take the wrong turn and you’ll find a restaurant in a submarine powered by balloons that you have to blow up with your feet while you eat, the place is bonkers and I flipping love it. I got LC tattered on my pinky for this reason!
What’s next for you?
I’m putting out a new tape in the next three months called The Renaissance Tape. It would be dope if you guys could cover it? Haha I’m being cheeky don’t mind me… I do think you guys will love it though. We’re currently just finishing up the production stage with an amazing band called The Tone Crafters out in Houston, Texas. There’s gonna be a whole bunch of flavours on this tape – think Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac and Oasis, all on the same project but coming out the mouth of a handsome Indian man. Gonna be shooting four videos in the same day for this tape, the hustle don’t stop one bit it just increases, but thats the fun and it’s gonna be an absolute flipping madness. On a less specific note though I’m gonna continue to try and source some sync opportunities for my music and try to secure investment for my sound and the journey ahead. Part of my success thus far has been the absence of a plan for tomorrow, shoot from the hip and all that.
Listen to Inder Paul Sandhu “Letter To Self” here now.
FOLLOW INDER PAUL SANDHU
Review and Interview by Del Owusu for The Songbird HQ