For an artist that lists Nickelback and Avril Lavigne as inspirations on his Facebook, Shrawan Banerjee’s music sounds nowhere close to it. However, it’s only to get a good chuckle out of anyone who takes the trouble to visit his page. “My idols are Nirvana and The Beatles. I can listen to them endlessly,” he says.
Based in Bangalore, Banerjee graduated with an undergraduate degree specialising in media.
But he doesn’t seem to have decided to be a full-time musician just yet. “I was working for two years at normal jobs and have now taken a break to do a course in sound engineering this year. The course has been great and given the opportunity to work on my music more than I would have otherwise, so it’s nice to do that,” he says.
Starting out at 13, he sneakily practised on his elder brother’s guitar when he wasn’t at home, and learnt all the basics from browsing the internet. “The first couple of years, I pretty much learnt from ultimateguitar.com printouts and playing Nirvana songs,” adding that he only much later chose to take lessons to improve his songwriting and producing. That process has led to the creation of any music starting with his acoustic guitar. “I like good melodies. The noise part is the easy stuff,” he quips.
But why the name Stoned Seahorse? “Stoned Seahorse was a funny name I thought of when I was 15. It’s just a catchy name that people tend to remember no matter how lame they think it is,” he says. Banerjee is now releasing new work under the name Hazelgreen, under which he says he will release all his electronic music. But by his admission, Banerjee himself seems to be a tad confused about his monikers. “I’m not clear myself about what music is going to come under what name right now. Stoned Seahorse is kind of chaotic, noisy and punk but Hazelgreen is all about the songs and bringing in new influences, especially from an electronic music standpoint.”
Being an independent musician also comes with its fair share of issues. But Banerjee chooses to remain optimistic rather than sulking about it. “I think the most important thing is to keep learning and growing and avoid complaining about what you can’t change. I love playing music and will always keep making and learning new things despite the ‘scene’ or whatever.”
Banerjee mentions that although there are always disappointments, for now, he’s focused on the journey. “It’s the same old, ‘no money, no gigs, no satisfaction’ jazz but it doesn’t bother me all that much.”
By the end of the year, Banerjee hopes to release an album or an EP under the Hazelgreen moniker. “After that, I am going to spend my retirement in the mountains with my dog Jimi,” he concludes.