While most musicians package and repackage love with catchy hooks, singer-songwriter Aditi Veena, known for her breakout hit song 'Deathcab', sings gentle odes to earth. She urges us with hand-picked-guitar-driven melodies to look around and see how the delicate balance of nature is being wantonly destroyed by the humankind.
Beginning with Mumbai on December 2 and 3, she will be stopping at Bengaluru (December 8), Chennai (December 15), Puducherry (December 16), Goa (December 20), Ahmedabad (December 28), Indore (December 30) and Jaipur (January 5, 2024) before finally ending in her hometown Delhi on January 7, 2024.
Aditi says she was always drawn to nature but when she lost her father to a lung disease, how she perceived nature changed - she no longer viewed it as a concept outside of her. She says she had an epiphany when she was dealing with her loss that the problems of humankind arise because of the boundaries that we have created between ourselves and between plants and other creatures.
"I also came to realise that I had a tool. I have a voice that I could use to take a profound experience, such as the loss of my father and turn it into something meaningful and beautiful to share with myself, to bring solace to myself. And those around me," says Aditi.
The first song she wrote, 'Daddy's Little Girl', is not only a eulogy to her father but also nature. She continued to write songs – about disappearing sparrows and forests, obnoxiously developing cities and polluted oceans – until she had enough to package them into an album, ‘Poetry Ceylon’.
Her debut album showcased not only her wispy voice but also the sound of the waves, the silences, the chirping birds and rustling leaves, paving way to a genre of her own, which she calls 'Earth songs.'
"I wrote 'Poetry Ceylon' while I was working as an architect in Sri Lanka. I thought I was going to be on a paradise island. But reality started to seep in. As an urban ecologist and architect, I saw a lot of things that touched me and shook me, too. For example, I saw that there was a huge amount of fishing. I saw forests were being cleared for rapid urbanisation," adds Aditi.
Aditi says just as her songs tried to help people understand the climate crisis within the context of the lives they lead, her journey as a musician too helped her realise that she cannot preach if she doesn't practice.
"When I released 'Poetry Ceylon', I started to tour. It became clear to me that touring is super damaging for the planet. For instance, as musicians, we’re flying around the world and flying is one of the most destructive things we can do at this point," adds Aditi.
Thus she began writing the rules for the 'Earth songs' genre. For instance, she redefined the idea of touring with her next solo tour, 'Make Friends, Not War’ that she undertook in March 2020.
"We stayed with friends and families to avoid hotels. We took it slow and didn't run from one place to another. Instead, we enjoyed the places we were visiting, connected with the communities, and ate local. We tried bringing people to the gardens, forests, and farms instead of doing it indoors,” says Aditi.
One thing led to another and soon 'Earth songs' became a collective effort called 'Faraway Friends'. Along with Austrian producer David Raddish and German rapper Keno, frontman of the band Moop Mama, she went on a trip through India, sponsored by Viva Con Agua, an NGO working for worldwide access to clean drinking water.
Aditi says the result, an album called 'Rain is Coming', was a mix of documentary and fiction, a sonic tour of India’s water conservation movements – its creeks and crowds, the chants of activists and its creatures.
"The aim was to document the water crises of Northern India and the movements that surround it – be it activists or communities. The album is a journey. It takes you through various stories of what is happening on the ground. It also has lots of interviews with different activists. We’ve also included voices of communities who are fighting to protect water," Aditi adds.
Now, four years after her debut album, Aditi continues to pitch for the Earth with her upcoming solo album 'Skin', The album is scheduled for release early 2024 on German record label Clouds Hill Records. She hopes that the ongoing nine-city tour of carefully curated intimate concerts, centred around the songs from her upcoming album, will spark more conversations around climate change, sacred ecology, communal regeneration and transformation.