Abhishek Sikdar, the creative force behind Screetus from India, takes us on a journey that began with a teenage fascination for nu-metal but evolved into a profound appreciation for progressive rock’s ability to tell expansive stories through music. Drawing inspiration from iconic acts like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, Abhishek found resonance in the masterful storytelling of Dream Theater‘s “Metropolis Pt. 2” and the evocative themes of Pink Floyd‘s “The Wall.” In this interview, Abhishek reflects on the genesis of Screetus and his intent to infuse their music with narrative depth, creating a sound that may not be easily confined to a single genre, but one he comfortably embraces as “progressive rock.”
Let’s dive into the featured track on the compilation. Can you share the inspiration or story behind “Torn”?
The album tells a supernatural story of two lovers who should never have been together at all, but through sheer will and obsession, they find themselves entwined over and over again in a rather unhealthy way. Torn signifies part of that wherein I wanted to imagine what it might be like for someone to have died but by the force of their desire, be attached to the mortal realm forever. To be torn between two worlds, in an essence.
Walk us through your creative process. How do you typically approach writing and composing music? What was your creative process like for your upcoming album “Into the Ether”?
I think I just like to take sounds from my head and try to map them to instruments or voices in as honest a way as I can. I’m still learning about how to do that without distorting the idea but in a nutshell, that’s it. One sound eventually becomes a melody, which becomes a chord progression, and keeps building. Usually, it starts with a melody. Once I work out what it means for the story I want to tell with that song, it grows into a collage of ideas that I then have the wonderful task of putting together.
Who or what are your major influences in progressive rock? How do they impact your own musical style?
We’re influenced by all sorts of artists, really. Steven Wilson, Opeth, Pink Floyd, and Tool would be quite visible in our sound. But we also take a lot of inspiration from Nirvana, God is an Astronaut, Radiohead, Olafur Arnalds, David Bowie, and Indukti. I think all of that comes together in what we hopefully can call our own style, in some ways.
What challenges have you faced as an artist in the scene, and how have you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge now, and something we’re still struggling with, is trying to translate relatively long and complex songs to 30 second bytes and promoting them without context on social media. We’re still learning and evolving our promotional ideas to keep up with what the algorithms deem relevant. But in so doing that, we do believe that we’re able to find a niche for ourselves and a fanbase who are dedicated.
How do you see the scene evolving, and what role do you believe your music plays in that evolution?
Let’s face it. Rock music is dying out. We’re part of a very small group of musicians who want to hold on to it forever. I admire bands like Sleep Token who’ve very comfortably taken genres which appeal to the masses more and mixed them as well as they have with rock and metal. In that sense, evolution can mean so many things.
For us, the journey of evolution lies in not repeating ourselves. I don’t want to make the same album twice. Even if it is a tiny change, it must be made.
Share with us some of the most memorable moments in your musical journey so far.
It’s been a roller coaster so far. We’ve gone through myriad emotions while making this album. It took 5 years and we’ve spent some of our best days and worst working on it and polishing it. Particularly memorable were the days that we spent tracking the songs at our home studios. We’d all be cooped up in one small room with one person playing and one monitoring for hours with pizza or something else lying on a table. Someone would get up at any point, make faces about what’s going right or wrong, eat, have a drink (usually red bull) and continue to track. We would do this for hours.
Do you have a personal favorite among your own compositions? If so, which one and why?
Torn, of course. It was very difficult to cleanly get right that delay track on the guitar. I think what I love about the track most is its simplicity and the way that every melody in this track comes together in a not very obvious way. I like that it grows ever so gradually and becomes a noisy behemoth towards the end. I like music like that.
Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or collaborations you’re working on?
We’ve started working on our next album. All we can tell you at this stage is that its scope in terms of storytelling and sound is bigger. We’re really excited about making this one. It’ll be some time until we’ll be ready, so until then, enjoy “Into The Ether”!
What does it mean to you to be a part of our compilation? How has the experience been for you?
We were quite thrilled when Niko reached out to us. We are really excited to be a part of a compilation of excellent new artists in the progressive rock scene. This is an opportunity for us to get to know some excellent new peers as well as be pitted against them.
Is there a message you’d like to convey to your fans who will be discovering your music through this compilation?
We hope you enjoy Torn as much is we enjoyed making it. Do check out our album “Into The Ether” afterwards.
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or not, who would it be?
Johnny Greenwood and Steven Wilson.
If you had to pick one instrument (besides your primary one) to master, what would it be?
What’s your all-time favorite progressive rock album, and why? One album that you always return to.
Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Are there non-musical influences that find their way into your music? (e.g., literature, art, science)
David Mitchell from the literary world.
Any final thoughts or reflections you’d like to share with our audience?
In a world burgeoning with new music, we thank you for taking the time to listen to ours.
Where can our audience find more about you and your music?