Riding solo

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Jason Singh’s comeback has been a while in the making, but is a unique reinvention of himself

jason singh

“I am a simple Indian boy”, says Jason Singh, speaking to Indian Link after his Bendigo Market Place gig, a part of his Australian tour following the release of his first solo album Humannequin.

He did sound very much like a simple Indian boy, unlike what I expected: after all, he was the front man of Taxiride, the rock band sensation in Australia in the early 2000s. He had a great ride with Taxiride, clocking five top ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) platinum selling albums. And now with a new solo album, Jason is starting it all afresh.

With another gig to follow later that evening, Jason still took the time to chat, and happily took us on a trip down memory lane.

It has been quite a journey for Jason, beginning from the time a school friend suggested that he should do something with his voice after hearing his rendition of Michael Jackson’s Man in the mirror at a bus stop.

Born to a Fiji Indian father and a Maltese mother and brought up in Melbourne, he was an active part of the live music scene there before joining hands with a few fellow musicians to form a band. A taxi driver friend would play their songs in his taxi and give them feedback from his passengers! Soon enough, the boy band with Jason as the lead singer zoomed to fame as Sire Records signed them up. And the rest was history.

But things changed. The band met with a hiatus, Jason continued his foray of the live music scene, and for 6 years his solo album was in the making. As it is released, the major difference is, unlike Imaginate, Taxiride’s first album that which was recorded in the million dollar Ocean Way studios in Los Angeles, this one is recorded in Jason’s home studio. More importantly, unlike those songs which were the collective contribution of a few songwriters, this one is his own creation.

And as he reinvented himself and the songwriter inside, “now it’s all about different human emotions and feelings”.

Jason feels people reciprocate by connecting to him and his songs more, on a personal level.

“I was waiting on enough experiences in life, enough songs to make a record,” he says.

But why the name, I ask him. Doesn’t it sound a bit as though it refers to something like plastic?

Chuckling, he tells me a story.

“The idea was to paint myself as a blank canvas in white paint and engrave the lyrics on me”, Jason explains. “I wanted to be recognised for my new project rather than just stay prisoner to the glory of good old days”.

But the photographer clicked before Jason opened his eyes, and he ended up looking like a mannequin in the picture; the name was thus born!

An ardent admirer of Lata Mangeshkar and Hindi movies, Jason feels he is trying, with a few friends, to be an Indian and at the same time, an Australian musician. He has always tried to bring Indian elements to his songs as was obvious with the earlier Garage Mahal and its very recognisable Indian elements. And although Jason insists that he tried to recreate the feel of India within him, Humannequin doesn’t have much of an Indian flavour to it. The album sometimes comes up with rhythms that go very easy on the ears, but not always. At times, it shows the characters of sophisticated dance music, at times it is catchy, but will it hold on forever in the minds of listeners? Well, only time will tell! But getting someone like Charles Fischer to produce the album is a very smart move, as he also produced Savage Garden’s distinctive hits.

Hold on forever, the lead single in the album has a beginning that lingers on, which makes it the appropriate track to be featured on Seven Network’s promos for Million Dollar Minute.

The track Speakers is more peppy and interesting as it talks about a girl who ‘dances near the speakers’. “The song was written as I was inspired by a friend who likes to feel the vibrations of the speakers”, remarks Jason.

Easy is a catchy song that starts slow and then picks up tempo. The words though sometimes clichéd, give an honest insight into the rollercoaster called life.

For someone who likes to jump around with his kid and play the sitar, tabla and harmonium in his spare time, success is revisiting Jason; and this time it’s much more up close and personal. Perhaps that’s why people going about their routine shopping at the Bendigo Market Place are drawn towards his live performances there. And that is why I believe him when he says that he is a simple Indian boy, trying to make a difference in the Australian music industry, along with a few of his friends!


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