Mumbai-born, East London-based singer Nikhil has a powerful, mysterious muse for inspiration
By Ed Gibbs
He has had his music play-listed by Radio 2, is signed to a major label, and gets to jet around the world for work, leaving home every other week. Yet for Nikhil de Souza, an overwhelming desire for a past love keeps bringing him back to earth.
“I actually saw her again the other day, for the first time in a while,” he says, declining to reveal her name. “I said, ‘Listen, I’m going to send you five songs and I want you to tell me which ones are about you. She’s going to have to listen the lyrics.”
Nikhil’s past loves often inform his music – “I’ve written around 75 songs since 2013 and most of them are about ex-girlfriends” – but insists this one is different.
“I was out on a date with someone else and I feel a tap on my shoulder and it was her,” he says, of the recent reunion with The One. “The feeling I had, I was overwhelmed. We ended up talking for ages. When you’re pining for someone, music is a therapy of sorts. When I played the Waiting Room (in Stoke Newington) recently, I pulled out an old song, Still in Love, and I almost broke down. It took me right back. It shocked me.”
When he’s not feeding his tortured soul with new music, the one-time geologist, likes to frequent the eateries of the East – Dishoom Shoreditch and Dalston’s La Ventana are both favourites – and meet people. Unlike his peers, he remains a bachelor at 36 – and he’s itching to get back in the studio again and keep recording.
“I just want to put music out every week,” he says, citing influences as diverse as Bryan Ferry, Jeff Buckley and Radiohead. “Every time I come out of the studio, I want the label to release it. But it doesn’t work like that. There are release cycles and strategies to follow. I have two EPS to release by the end of the year. I’d like to put out more.”
A full album of material is promised in the new year, as is an upcoming show at nearby St Pancras Church. As for his mysterious muse, the former voice of Bollywood (and Indian telecom) will only reveal she’s “creative, not at all corporate, and bad with numbers”. He’s not in any rush, he adds, to resolve the issue anytime soon, with the songs still coming thick and fast. Who can blame him?
Nikhil plays St Pancras Church on3rd December, with more dates expected in the new year.
Check out his Spotify page for a taste of his latest music.