Stories in song

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At 18, Jaden Mascarenhas has released three singles. NT KURIOCITY catches up with the singer-songwriter-producer as he drops his latest track ‘These Nights With You’

ANNA FERNANDES | NT KURIOCITY

You might have heard him in the KFC ‘Flaming Crunch’ ad that aired in 2015 or as the dub-over voice of Harry’s son in the Hindi version of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II’ in 2011 or in one of the many television ads, animated films, and movie scores that he’s lent his voice to. If you haven’t; perhaps, you will soon. Because Jaden Mascarenhas is poised to be the next big thing. The 18-year-old, who goes by the stage name ‘Jaden Maskie’, has released three pop singles and a collaborative project all in the span of eight months.

Growing up, music was always a part of his life. He recalls singing and doing auditions for movies and commercials at a young age. But it was Ed Sheeran who pushed him to kickstart his singing career. “I think he was my first musical influence. In fact, a song by Ed Sheeran was the first song I strummed on a guitar. It was he who got me started into making covers on YouTube and Instagram,” reveals the student of St Xavier’s College, Mapusa.

And by posting covers online he soon began to hone his own sound. In December last year, he started songwriting. His debut single ‘Not My Mistake’ was released in February this year in what was “the best move [he] ever made”; his second ‘If I Let You Go’ was released in May; and his third ‘These Nights With You’ was released last week on September 29.

He admits that writing and releasing his debut single was difficult. “I got an idea and the melody followed. But as it was my first song, I was still trying to figure things out,” he says, adding that the acoustic pop track is a “song you would listen to if you were a little sad”. Things got a lot simpler thereafter. And the day ‘Not My Mistake’ was released, he started writing ‘If I Let You Go’ a track that offers a nuanced electronic pop vibe. Both releases were met with praise.

And when ‘These Nights With You’ dropped, the praise only crescendoed. In fact, the acoustic-electro earworm earned the fourth position on Spotify’s popular New Music Friday playlist, a curated selection of 70 of the most anticipated new tracks of the week. “‘These Nights With You’ is a happy song. It’s about how we often tend to hide our feelings but there’s always that one person you can open up to,” says Jaden adding that he never imagined he would release three singles and that they would all achieve a fair amount of success.

‘These Nights With You’ in particular, seems to be soaring in popularity. “So many people are relating to it. I’ve had lots of people messaging me saying that they found it super relatable, that they were really inspired by the song. People are sharing it; some have made covers of ‘These Nights With You’, some have created art based on it,” he says.

For Jaden, each song has its own story which sends its own message. “When I’m writing a song I have no objective at all. I don’t think of how the song is going to perform or whether it’s going to be widely successful. It’s about how the song makes me feel in the moment and how the story of the song will play out,” he says. He finds that inspiration comes randomly. For instance, he says, he could be sitting down with his guitar or humming unconsciously and inspiration will strike. “As an artist I believe that creativity can’t be forced. But once I get an idea, I record everything onto my phone and over the course of the next couple of days or weeks, I start adding to the idea. I write down lyrics onto a notepad and correlate them with the voice notes. And it builds up until I feel like I have something concrete,” he says. All of his music has been written and recorded in his bedroom on his laptop under his label Maskie Records.

And the journey has truly been humbling, he says. “I want to say a big thanks to every single person who has supported me and appreciated my music because in the last five months I have gained about one lakh streams on Spotify alone which is quite crazy to think about,” he adds.

“My favourite thing about songwriting is just getting an idea out there and getting people to listen to something that is so close to me and my heart. It’s a really cool thing to just do something creative and have something you can say is 100 per cent yours,” he says.

While his current songs are labelled under pop, going forward the singer-songwriter wants to steer clear of any genre restrictions. “I’m still discovering what I like most and what I’m good at. I don’t want to restrict myself to one particular genre, but keep exploring,” he says, adding that he has some jazz-pop music in the works and a few collaborative projects. He also hints at churning more tracks in the future. “This year was four songs – three singles of my own and a collaboration. Next year, you never know,” he says.