Clinton cerejo composes ‘a-car-pella’ with 118 sounds made …


Clinton Cerejo keeps tearing the envelope, rather than pushing it, and for a car brand, the prolific composer has gone out and constructed a jingle that’s crafted entirely sans musical instruments, using only sounds created by the car itself — along with Arijit Singh’s vocals, which would be something of a first. We asked him how it came to be…

A memorable jingle is a rare commodity these days. What goes into the making of one?
I think a lot of it has to do with melody. India is a melody-driven nation and I think the memorability of a jingle has a lot to do with how accessible you make it to the listener. Having said that, I like to challenge listeners as well cause I think when you can achieve that right balance between accessibility and musicianship, that’s the Holy Grail. That was a large part of the challenge, I had to consider when we were conceptualising this one. I knew that even though the car is mechanical in nature I have to infuse melody in there. That’s what will make it live and breathe.
I’ve never considered it although it’s tempting sometimes, especially when some of them turn out really hooky and popular and you get attached to them as a composer. I guess I’ve always been too busy with the next project to stop and evaluate the back catalogue and figure out what I want to do with it. The only time I recycled one of my jingles which got bounced was when I composed Mauje Naina for Coke Studio. That was initially composed for a telecom brand and the agency bounced it, and I pulled it up a year later, expanded on it and put it in my episode of Coke Studio @ MTV. It was an extremely successful experiment and the song went on to become a cult classic of sorts.
Why Hinglish as language medium?
I think Hinglish was the medium of choice primarily because the brand was very clear that they want it to be young, aspirational and hip. I think the simplicity in the writing also gave it an instant connect.

How did Arijit come on board?
Arijit was definitely my first choice, not just because I love him as a singer but also because his laidback funky approach would be perfect when overlaid with the contrasting macho and mech-tech sounds that the car would generate. I know that most people have heard him in the soulful songster context, but he’s truly a brilliantly versatile singer and there’s nothing he can’t sing really. The brand was equally excited to be working with someone who’s such a youth icon at this point and it seemed to fit right in with what they want to project with this idea.

Sneha Khanvilkar attempted something similar with MTV Sound Trippin’s Tung Tung. Except that I suspect that she used some instruments as part of the track. Is that something that separates the two tracks? That you haven’t used any and she probably has?
Well, this is something I discussed with the agency from day one and admittedly, I was a bit sceptical as to whether I would be able to pull it off. Generating percussive sounds from the car would be no problem and I’d easily be able to do something purely rhythmic. But how do I generate melodic or harmonic sounds from the car? And there was the added challenge of the song length. I guess it’s easier to get away with only rhythmic sounds for a 30-second or even 60-second duration. But to sustain the listener for a whole 2.5 minutes, I knew I was going to have to squeeze out some melodic information from the car. That’s when I got the idea to record the engine revving at different RPMs and pitch map them to their relative frequencies so that I can physically map that out on my keyboard and create playable instruments from the engine revs. It’s a pretty interesting idea and I was able to actually create a bass sound that I used throughout the song as well as synth sounds that come in parts of the song. The whole process was so interesting and I’ve been getting a lot of questions from genuine listeners.

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