10 Oct 2019

Drax Project's Shaan Singh on the Bach Cello Suites

From Upbeat, 12:30 pm on 10 October 2019

When Shaan Singh of Wellington indie-pop group Drax Project needs inspiration, he turns to 16th century German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Matt Beachen, Shaan Singh, Sam Thomson and Ben O’Leary of Drax Project

Matt Beachen, Shaan Singh, Sam Thomson and Ben O’Leary of Drax Project Photo: Supplied

Shaan Singh, who plays saxophone in Drax Project, started exploring Bach's music as a way of improving his technique.

A particular fan of Bach's Cello Suites, he quickly found listening to them had a flow-on effect: “It helps me write melodies, as a person trying to write pop music,” he says. “There are a lot of recognisable patterns within all of the Bach Cello Suites.”

Drax Project have had a whirlwind few years touring with the likes of Lorde, Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello and Christina Aguilera. Their single 'Woke up Late' has been streamed 61 million times on Spotify alone.

Singh and the rest of Drax Project are currently in Los Angeles writing and recording new tunes.

And the Bach suites have become part of that creative process: “Something that’s always going to grab me about classical music is there’s so much freedom in it.

"These players put so much emotion into the time, and the way it slows down and speeds up. It almost sounds like they’re improvising.”

Singh doesn't like just any recording of the Cello Suites – he points to the 1995 interpretation by Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovitch as his go-to.

And the piece that keeps popping up in his playlist is the third movement, ‘Courante’, from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G.

Shaan Singh

Shaan Singh Photo: Taylor Mansfield