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SIJYA: Just a Girl Making Music in Her Room 

It’s been nearly 1.5 years since the release of her first EP Young Hate and New Delhi artist Sijya Gupta is ready to get more in touch with herself sonically. 

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Tania Rangel

Writer

Updated

Despite the 12 hour and 30 minute time difference, New Delhi artist Sijya Gupta, wanted to make sure I was not the one waking up too early nor staying up too late for this interview. I gave her some time slots that would be far more accommodating to her time zone, but she somehow got me to agree to interview her right before her bedtime in her pjs. 

Sijya is really just a girl. She is obsessed with cats. Her obsession has gone so far, she adopted some kitties off her terrace and has even managed to get one of them to pose in the photoshoot for this editorial. She refuses to let go of her childhood stuffed animals even after covering them up with fake blood in her “No Words” music video. She loves women producers/musicians such as St.Vincent, Laurel Halo, and Tirzah. Sijya also happens to hate social obligations like a lot of us. 

When I had first heard  of Sijya, she had remixed Nabihah Iqbal’s track “Sunflower” from her DREAMER EP.  Already a moving beautiful track, Sijya elevated that feeling. 

“She (Iqbal) was talking about how Sunflower is about artists who die young and who leave us wanting more… makes us want to understand them better. I was taken back by that. I wanted to bring some of that into the track.. because of course it’s there, but I wanted to really focus in on that and make it haunting.” 

Sijya has been a long time fan of Iqbal, but it was Iqbal who discovered her own fan. During her set at Tate Modern in the UK, Iqbal was very moved by Sijya’s performance. 

“She was standing and waiting to meet me. I of course did not know that she was there.” Sijya laughingly explained that Iqbal eventually ended up leaving because she was taking a while to pack her gear up. Iqbal followed her on Instagram and posted a story of the performance. “I reached out to her like a fan and told her I’m here in the UK for a tour, could I meet you for a coffee?” In retrospect, getting asked to be part of the all South Asian remix EP for DREAMER  was a full circle moment and feels gratitude. “ I feel like that was a really nice, kind choice… when you’re in the West it’s easier to get opportunities like that.”

Sijya’s sound is honest, noisy, and can sometimes make your mind run pensive. When I listened to her debut EP Young Hate I did not know what to expect. 

I had heard nothing like it, but it felt familiar. The tracks mix perfectly with her vulnerable tone and downtempo noisy instrumentals  From the lyrics to the visuals in her music videos, everything Sijya does is done with purpose. You would think that she had been doing this music thing her entire life. 

Graphic design defined Sijya’s career up until age 26, where she then decided to try making some noisy music. I have heard fellow young adults remain discouraged over how it gets harder to learn new things with time. Now 31, Sijya is a testament against that. 

When discussing genre and how often she is associated with ambient, she was hesitant to claim it. “I don’t know… I’m just doing something in my room,” she laughingly said. 

She loves the freedom there is in making something come to life. “It can be as messy and improper as you want it to be. There is various ways to go about it, there is not right way… you’ve got a lot to play with.” 

Although Sijya’s favorite part is the process of making, her least favorite part is finishing. “It's an extremely annoying thing with songs, Finishing songs can be a big problem. I write stuff really fast, I leave it, then revisit it months later. It’s the last 10% that takes months,” she said. Finishing is a bittersweet process for her.  “The minute you finish, the idea has lost all its potential and it’s become something. Letting go becomes difficult.” 

By the end of this year or early next year, she will have to prepare to let go of some stuff as she is in the works of finishing her next album. “I’m looking forward to fucking finishing it.” She says she is hoping to hone in and get closer to herself sonically. 


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