Krishna.K Delves Deep Into the Grief of Losing Friendships in New Single, ‘Chapter’

In 2020, it would have been highly unlikely to not come across one of singer-songwriter Krishna.K’s many hits as you browsed through Indian Indie playlists. ‘Dragon,’ ‘Pieces to Keep,’ and ‘Indigo,’ among others, are some of the unmissable staple songs by the artist, still cherished and remembered by a legion of listeners. Krishna also went on to receive prodigious commercial success soon after, singing for two Tamil songs in 2021 – ‘Tappasu Neram’ from the movie ‘Joshua Imai Pol Kaakha’ and ‘Maayangal’ off the album ‘Kutty Story.’

And now, following a brief hiatus from music, Krishna.K makes a poignant return with his latest single, ‘Chapter.’ Right from the get-go, ‘Chapter’ is dissimilar to Krishna’s previous releases, both sonically and lyrically. It leads the listener into an honest, vulnerable, and intimate aspect of his life.

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We were fortunate enough to have Krishna.K extensively break down his journey of creating ‘Chapter,’ his growth as an artist since his previous releases, his reaction to the overwhelming response from the listeners, and much more!

TFword: Could you please tell us more about ‘Chapter’? What prompted you to write the song? 
Krishna.K: Chapter is a song that came from a really vulnerable space of grief and loss. After coming to Australia for my studies, I lost touch with music entirely. I hadn’t strummed my ukulele or thought of writing for a while, for many reasons – mental health and coping with change being two key ones. I lost friendships that I thought would last me a lifetime, and was also navigating feeling insufficient and temporary in people’s lives. Somehow, every meaningful relationship I built, I lost.

Chapter talks about feeling like a passing cloud in people’s lives, even if I wanted forever with them. It was the first song I actually sat down to write in a year or more, and I was only able to get back into that space of writing after I impulsively purchased a travel guitar. I thought that a new instrument would wake my rusty voice up, or that I’d remember how my fingers felt on strings again. Luckily, it did – even if the outcome was probably one of the saddest songs I’ve written.
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TF: While your previous releases have also touched upon the darker parts of life through the lyrics – be it escapism in ’Dragon’ or yearning for someone in ‘Pieces To Keep,’ those singles kept a rather uplifting sound in terms of composition. On the other hand, ‘Chapter’ poetically dwells in grief with its subdued sonic approach and your vocals. 

Was this a novel attempt at composition for you? Talk us through the creative process for ‘Chapter.’
Krishna: With Dragon and Pieces to Keep, the uplifting composition was deliberate: I wanted to highlight the polarising dualities of my lived experience surrounding anxiety and heartbreak while having to keep my chin up, and I am so grateful that people were able to resonate with it. With Chapter, however, I no longer had the courage to keep a cheery mask on.

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The timbre of my guitar helped coax me into more melancholy, and Chapter came to me in the most natural way it could: subtle, acoustic, personal and sad. I haven’t dabbled with the guitar too many times before Chapter, and this opened me to a whole new range from a composition perspective. It was easier for me to melt into the embrace of sadness, with the depth of the guitar. It did result in me being a lot more conventional in terms of chords and melodic phrasing than I have with songs I wrote on my ukulele, but it was refreshing and a very meaningful songwriting experience for me.

I just sat at the edge of my bed, alone in my room with a guitar I’ve barely been acquainted with, and let the feelings pour out. Chapter was also one of the few times I’ve written a song with the intention of finishing it – as I wrote, I paid attention to the song’s structure and how I wanted the song to flow. It was one of the first times I really envisioned an end result while writing; I hoped that listeners would sense the vulnerability that the song came from, and I decided to keep it just vocals and guitar for this one because of that. 

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TF: How do you think your perspective and approach to music have changed since you released ‘Pieces To Keep’ or ‘Butterflies,’ which were released over two years ago?
Krishna: Back when I put out Pieces to Keep or Butterflies, I was exploring what I wanted my music to sound like. I was an emotional writer trying to find my place in a world where music focuses on production value, and I still am. I had the remarkable opportunity to work with AKR on Butterflies, and saw how expansive our music could be.

With Chapter, I slipped back to my roots. I regressed into that 15-year-old who knew nothing about DAWs and production, and just wanted to find a safer way to feel; to express his feelings. I think my approach to music remains unstable, just like my relationship with music is. I take things as I go, and have no idea what the next song might sound like – I think that’s scary, but also very freeing.
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My perspective has changed in that I no longer fear the rejection of not making my songs “big” enough, or not developing a song to its full potential. I yearn to share what I am, and I am more of a sad acoustic song than I am a well-produced, well-recorded single or album worth topping charts. I value my authenticity and am grateful that I am surrounded by musician friends, loved ones and a remarkable Indie music community that values authenticity as well. A lot has changed in two years, including me, and I think my music and I will continue to evolve as my circumstances change. 

TF: How does it feel to put out music after the brief hiatus? Were you nervous or excited?
Krishna: I was a total wreck. I fully forgot what it feels like to navigate a song distribution website, how to sing behind a microphone, and how it feels to share a song with someone for the first time. I felt like I was releasing a song for the first time again, and it was actually quite fitting because I navigated a lot of loss through this experience.
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After my old Instagram account got taken down, I felt directionless and experienced grief around the community, family and small portfolio of my songs and covers that I’d lost. I didn’t have any reference of how I used to market my music, or any evidence of the love my music had once received. Releasing Chapter after this hiatus felt like seeing a familiar face in a crowded room, but not being able to figure out who they were to me.

It was an emotional experience, just like writing Chapter was. I find myself reminiscing how different it was with Dragon, and have to stop myself from comparing the experiences! I’m so grateful for the response, and it feels good to be able to step into this new chapter of something so familiar. 

TF: Your break from music came following the huge commercial hit you had with ‘Tappasu Neram’ and ‘Maayangal.’ Was it difficult for you to take some time away, or did it happen involuntarily? Would you like to talk about your time off?
Krishna: Tappasu Neram and Maayangal were such an incredible part of my life and career as a musician – I still can’t believe they happened! I am so grateful for those opportunities, and I am overwhelmed (positively) by the responses every day! I think it was extremely important that there be at least one transgender voice somewhere in Kollywood, and I’m just so grateful that I was able to contribute in that way.

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The break from music happened on its own, with moving from India to Australia and reorienting my focus to university. I was hoping to focus on a fun, typical college life, and music somehow made a brief exit. I also dealt with a lot of gender dysphoria on the music front- every time people misgendered me because of my voice, it caused unbearable pain.

I thought the only way to shield myself from that pain and dysphoria was to stop singing. Dealing with anxiety and its physical symptoms on my throat was also incredibly difficult to navigate singing with, and music and I just drifted away because of all this. I felt like I lost a part of me, and am elated that with Chapter I have embarked on a journey to find my way back to music. 

TF: A lot of your listeners were elated to hear from you again after you announced ‘Chapters’. What was your reaction upon seeing the support?
Krishna: I was surprised, honestly! I didn’t think there were many people who would notice or remember, and I was totally floored by everyone’s kindness. It felt like coming back home! With every DM, call, message and repost of the song, my heart melted. I am so grateful for the love, and for everyone who stuck by me through all of this time. I have so much love for the listeners, I can’t even put it into words. It still freaks me out that people actually want to, and enthusiastically listen to my music! 

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TF: Are we going to get some more tunes soon, or probably an EP? What are your plans?
Krishna: I remember having big plans for an EP and I intended to record, produce and release all the songs I’ve written. Chapter was a wake up call for me, that maybe while I am still healing and dealing with things like anxiety, depression, dysphoria and ADHD, it was unfair to expect that sort of vigour from myself.

I still dream of being able to put out the EP (called Flowers, all of the songs in which I loved writing and composing) and all of the other songs I’ve written in an album, but there is still so much healing and living I have to do before I can fulfill those dreams for myself.

It’s extremely disappointing to me to make myself wait to commit to my music, but I know that working on music is something that has to come from a natural and free-flowing place for me, and that I can’t do that as of yet. I am still writing, and still planning, and I hope that I’ll be able to get some studio time to work on my songs this year! 

The interview has been edited for clarity.

Listen to ‘Chapter’ by Krishna.K feat. B. B. Bhuyan – HERE

Find Krishna on: Instagram | Spotify | YouTube | Apple Music

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