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Taken from Red Bull (Sep 06, 2023)

Komorebi reflects on how her dream project The Fall turned into a reality

Tarana Marwah discusses her latest album under the moniker Komorebi, and the personal reflections which have been driving her artistic vision.

by Amit Gurbaxani


Copyright: Tarana Marwah
Copyright: Tarana Marwah


Singer/songwriter and electronic music producer Komorebi aka Tarana Marwah's new album The Fall is her most ambitious project yet. The concept record, through which she also explores her love for comics and video games, follows another of her alter egos, alien space traveller Kiane as she journeys to Earth on a path of self-discovery.


She says the idea for The Fall, which is accompanied by a comic book of the same name and a music video made with 3D game creation platform Unreal Engine, came from "drawing on my inspirations and passions as a child, and bringing that back into my adult life, because now we have the tools and the network and the people to help make it happen."



Tarana plays the live action version of Kiane in the music videos for the tracks 'I Grew Up' and 'Watch Out'. In fact, she has rarely starred as herself in the videos she's released so far.


Among her reasons for centring the album around Kiane - who we were first introduced to in 2017 in the artwork of her debut album Soliloquy - was a preference for "putting my characters in front and transposing my experiences onto [them]", says the composer who cites international influences such as Anamanaguchi and Gorillaz "with the visual and animated content" and Bjork, Grimes, Kate Bush and Lady Gaga "with the performance art and the costumes, the larger than life avatar".


Her album, meanwhile, is packed with marquee names from the Indian independent music scene. Members of Easy Wanderlings contribute flute and harmonies to 'Watch Out' on which Blackstratblues aka Warren Mendonsa and Dhruv Visvanath play electric and acoustic guitar respectively.


Zokova members, guitarist Ritwik De - her band mate in the erstwhile Tankbund - and drummer Suyash Gabriel - who has been part of Komorebi's live set-up - also appear. Upcoming electronica artist Sijya did the graphic design, and frequent collaborator, MIDIval Punditz's Gaurav Raina served as co-producer and mixing engineer. In India, The Fall is being released on his label Gravity Sounds.


Komorebi. Copyright: Pritiza B
Komorebi. Copyright: Pritiza B


They're just a handful of the collaborators she enlisted. "In the circles I hang, everyone is an artist," says Tarana. "Sometimes that can definitely be irritating because you want variety in your life. But in this case, it's a huge benefit that friends of friends of friends are all into the same line of work, they're on the same wavelength."


For instance, she was introduced to Neelav Ghosh and Improper Studio, with whom she put together the comic book, through Sijya.


She met her video's directors R. Venkatraman of international digital agency Media.Monks and Starving Artists Films' Rahul Datta - who helmed 'I Grew Up' and 'Watch Out' - after they heard her music and expressed interest in working with her. Datta introduced her to drag artist Glorious Luna, who stars as her "inner saboteur" in the video for 'Watch Out' and who subsequently became the antagonist of the comic book. Last but not least, fashion designer Rajesh Prataph Singh designed the futuristic costumes for 'I Grew Up'.



Perhaps her most fruitful encounter in recent years was with Mike Dickinson, the founder of US-based label Chicken Ranch Records at the Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh in 2018.


Not only did Dickinson book Komorebi for a showcase at the South By Southwest festival in Texas the following year, he also signed her on to a deal with Chicken Ranch, which will put out The Fall in the States.


Gaurav Raina, notably, has been the guiding light. "None of this is possible without him," says Tarana. "He was towering over everyone making sure that things were done right, [with this] Rick Rubin sort of energy, really helping people do the best that they can."


Lyrically, The Fall sees Tarana delve deeper into issues she has explored in earlier material, with confessional, introspective verses about stressful relationships that ultimately contributed to her personal evolution.


"It's about how I became the person I am now and I do feel like a different person after this record," she says. "I feel like a stronger, more stable, settled individual. But to get here, I've to deal with a lot of difficulties with other people and I had to deal with a lot of toxic behaviour from myself. A lot of the music does reflect a certain self-hatred. It's very self-aware in that respect. I'm also negotiating forgiveness with my family, negotiating chaotic behaviour from people I've been in love with, negotiating where I stand in the world."


In the comic book, this is represented by Kiane falling into a trap, and battling her way out by fighting her own inner conflict. In a way, the cutely drawn characters belie the serious subject matter.


"I wanted it to look like a sweet, feminine energy-charged manga, because I want there to be more representation," says Tarana. "I thought it'd be really cool if an indie artist from India made a comic book and it's all about the female protagonist."


Keen listeners will spot many connections between the album The Fall and its accompaniment comic. "Every song relates to a chapter and you can almost envision Kiane singing these songs," says Tarana.


The chapter 'The Fall', for example, relates to Kiane crash landing onto Earth; 'Silent War' to what she sees when she gets there and how she perceives the planet. As for how it all relates to her gamer persona apart from the use of Unreal Engine, Tarana says that "if you look at any video game, you do see similar themes, like a character fighting her way to either get back home or to save somebody."


Komorebi - The Fall, comic book cover
Komorebi - The Fall, comic book cover. Copyright: Tarana Marwah


The comic ends on a cliffhanger implying there will be a sequel. For now, Tarana is planning to take the concept on the road with an album tour planned potentially for November plus slots at festivals including Ziro, Magnetic Fields, and others.


"I'm going to be wearing a costume for sure and there'll be some really beautiful visuals playing in the background. We'll make it much more performative."


Attendees will be able to pick up merchandise including the comic book, which is available to buy online from The Comic Book Store, the brick-and-mortar Mumbai outpost of which will be selling hard copies.


Depending on the response to the project, Tarana will decide whether to pursue turning the story into an actual video game. For now, she's aiming to enjoy bringing her magnum opus into the world. "It's a bouquet of all the fun stuff in life," she says. "I just want to bring that back, you know?"


The Fall is out on 8th September.



 
 

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