Musician Michael Dias tunes in to what’s real with his first album

Following the release of his first album, singer-songwriter Michael Dias talks about his work and inspiration

November 23, 2023 07:04 pm | Updated 07:04 pm IST

Singer-songwriter Michael Dias

Singer-songwriter Michael Dias | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Like any good singer-songwriter, Michael Dias has written tons of songs over the last two decades or so. A part of the Bengaluru rock circuit with his band Mad Orange Fireworks, the artiste now lives in the quiet town of Aldona in Goa and that far-from-the-madding-crowd lifestyle is what has arguably spawned his debut solo album Show Me What’s Real.

Talking about Aldona, which Dias has called home for two years now, “It’s a pretty little village, it’s nice and peaceful and quiet. There’s no traffic.” Moving from Bengaluru to Aldona, the artiste found impetus to gather his oldest and newest songs and put out 10 of them as part of the album. Kochi-origin Dias recently returned to Bengaluru to launch the album at venue space The Raft, where he performed with a seven-member band.

Among the best received songs of the night were the likes of ‘Time Machine’, a song that sums up the power of simple but emotive songwriting. It is a perspective-gaining tune about Dias’ relationship with his past and present. It was written about five years ago. “When I’d written it, I always knew that this was going to be a front-facing song that would stand out whenever I put a solo album out. It’s relatable.”

Singer-songwriter Michael Dias

Singer-songwriter Michael Dias | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The album was initially born out of demos recorded by Dias at home and then sent over to Chennai-based Toby Joseph, who took on production duties. Starting out on acoustic guitar, these were songs that Dias says did not fit the mould for Mad Orange Fireworks.

The likes of bassist Carl Fernandes, synth artist Alok Merwin and drummer David Joseph feature across Show Me What’s Real, which pulls in directions that can remind the listener of the Beatles, The Police, Simon & Garfunkel and others. The oldest song is ‘Once I Find You’, which was written in 2003, while the more recent ones include ‘The Fruit’, featuring fellow singer-songwriter (and star playback singer in South Indian cinema songs) Shakthisree Gopalan.

Dias talks about how each song shows off a different influence. “The title track ‘Show Me What’s Real’ is like my Eagles song. That’s the influence for that one. ‘I Can’t Go On’, I call it my Bon Jovi song, because I felt like that’s where the sound came from. ‘I Will Let You Go’ is a little bit of Duran Duran kind of sound,” the artiste explains. If he had to point to one overarching influence, it’s that of Sting, perhaps best heard on ‘Chai Song’.

Singer-songwriter Michael Dias

Singer-songwriter Michael Dias | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

After performing with a seven-piece band to launch the album, Dias says he is no longer keen on playing alone on stage. “I just don’t feel like performing solo anymore. It’s empty and boring, to be honest. At the same time, I would love to hopefully get to play music festivals with this set, but it’s a big band that I need to pull this off with,” he adds.

Promoting and marketing his music has often been hit and miss for Dias, whether it’s with his solo material or with Mad Orange Fireworks. He has teamed up with music company Neon Culture this time to change things around; they have helped him generate a bit of buzz in the large halls that is the Indian independent music circuit.

Singer-songwriter Michael Dias

Singer-songwriter Michael Dias | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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