The Bhopal-based artist collaborated with his sister Sarah Mehdi on vocals and poet june for the studio version of his live staple
Bhopal-based singer-songwriter and fingerstyle/percussive guitarist Samar Mehdi. Photo: Adarsh Jogani
When you’re Samar Mehdi and you’ve got a potent, intimate song like “Martbaan” in your repertoire, it helps to bide your time when it comes to releasing it as a single. Part of the Bhopal-based singer-songwriter and fingerstyle/percussive guitar artist’s performances for years now – to the point that there’s been a playthrough version, a live version and a few cover versions floating about on YouTube – “Martbaan” was being recorded in a stop-start manner since February 2020.
Performing the track for years has led Mehdi to “an exclusive kind of finality” before he took to recording it on his home setup and then sending it to producer Aman Arakh. He adds, “You might never get to know things about your own song that come out gleaming in an emotionally charged space, and when it comes to that, there’s just nothing better than live shows, or more aptly, performing it in front of a live audience.” Finding clarity and “calm” following the experience of playing it over the years, Mehdi presents the most of dynamic version of “Martbaan,” which drew from poet june’s poem of the same name.
The song follows Mehdi’s 2020 single “Sukoon” as well as a stripped down version of “Aazaad.” Featuring narration from his sister Sarah Mehdi of june’s lyrics and poetry, “Martbaan” was pieced together from around 84 guitar tracks. He says, “It was fun, I’ve never done that.” Often citing the importance of the original poem Martbaan by june at his gigs, Mehdi’s lyrics in the song are essentially a response to her poem, evoking existentialism, hope and togetherness.
Directly impacted by India’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Mehdi understands the succor and motivation that music provides, so he’s still keen on releasing music. The artist cites how French metal band Gojira‘s new album Fortitude gave him much to look forward to. Mehdi says he has two more singles coming up – “Raushni” and a new version of “Parey.” He adds, “I’m also working on an album that I might just be able to finish by the end of the year.”