Born in Bhopal to a middle-class household, Samar broke his family’s institutional pattern early and had his heart set on music quite stubbornly. For a long time, he sneaked his way to learning instruments in school and at home when his parents were away, starting with the snare drum in his school’s marching band (aged 10) and moving on to the flute and saxophone, among other instruments in the same arrangement within the next three years. On the side of that, Samar secretly installed FL Studio 2 on his father’s celeron desktop and learnt music arrangement on it while no one was at home. Inspired by his cousin brother’s skills on the keyboards, Samar too tried his hand on it in school, and it was here that he was able to find some stability and went on to write his first few pieces of music therein. Eventually, he found his way to the guitar, and that brought forth a new purpose to his songwriting. Samar quickly emerged as one of the best guitarists from his region, as emphasized by his 440Hz solo stunt that got him through to top 10 of the competition that had over a hundred entries from all over the country.


Aged 16, Samar was invited to join Acrimony by his schoolmate (the band being the latter’s brainchild), and together they kept experimenting with different styles of music until finally arriving at metal. By then, the line-up had also found stability and with that settled 5-piece line-up, Acrimony rose to the top of the central Indian metal scene while playing a significant role in the initiation of the local scene of Bhopal. This was at a time when metal hadn’t reached the lesser known areas of the country, let alone be a catalyst to metal bands from those areas, and so being a metal band from such a time and place fueled the band to write their first originals. Even rarer was the concept of home recordings/production for Indian indie artists and Acrimony were amongst the first to tap into this space with Samar as their producer.

Having initiated his first multi-layered songwriting experiences on a primitive version of FL Studio2 on a celeron desktop a few years before joining Acrimony, Samar decided to bring the first lot of his passages and riffs to the band. Having found direction thanks to Acrimony coming into existence, Samar then co-wrote these incomplete pieces as songs in the space of progressive heavy metal with shades of Indian semi-classical music, and then co-produced the band’s debut EP, False Vacuum. In July, 2011, Acrimony made their first move towards national relevance and put a video out under the name, Showdown Compilation, which referred to a compiled video from their previous year’s gigs over a home produced audio of their track, Showdown. The video did wonders for the band, and in December, 2011, Acrimony released their fully home-produced debut EP mainly to the attention of the nation’s underground scene. With the perfect launchpad in place, the band were expected to take it to the next level, but all expectations were marred by the controversial exit of their drummer, which put the band on an indefinite hiatus.

[Go to False Vacuum]



With Acrimony’s future still uncertain, Samar decided to further explore his musicality, as well as something that was not Acrimony, and co-founded Ferryclock Yarns with four of the five existing members of Acrimony. Apart from getting an opportunity to feel “active” again, Samar could now allow his alternative/modern rock roots to grow towards a Urdu/Hindi lyrical space in this new setup. A new soundscape was up for grabs, with all of the members having matured since their last record together, hence bringing many more variables to the table, and with their debut track, Morning Jam, it was evident that the band could easily sound apart in a blend of folksy/ethnic elements with modern rock. The band soon released their second track, Yaheen, emphasizing their songwriting abundance.

After the two releases, however, the band lost direction and hence, momentum, and succumbed to mismatch between individual schedules of the members.


Samar Mehdi 5 - Album Cover

As uncertain periods of lull hampered both of his bands, and alarmed by an increasing complacency about his own life, Samar decided to give his original music one final shot by building his way to his reinterpretations (a name given by him to his earliest percussive fingerstyle experiments in which he would rewrite his older songs in the percussive fingerstyle/one-man band format to get a hold of the style of music). Samar needed a completely exhaustive and original way of writing and presenting music – what he felt was most relevant to the way he had always conceived music and perceived life – but even more than that, he needed to not depend on anyone else for his music anymore to get out of his rut. One day, he was doing his regular left-hand legato exercises, and came up with a melody that required “an immediate groove!”. Unable to find anything else, he started tapping on the computer table near him and only realized a few minutes later that he could just do the same on his guitar, and because of the way it is constructed, the acoustic guitar would give him a chance to add a dynamic range of percussive sounds, including the regular Kick-Snare. And that led him to the world of percussive fingerstyle. He then remembered what had captured his attention about this style of music when he had come across Andy McKee’s ‘Drifting’ all those years ago – the chance to perform multi-layered songs in real time like a band, despite being a solo act. The motivation to train and become worthy of the idea of reinterpretations was the strongest drive he had ever felt. Add to that, the most valuable angle of being able to wrap his overall philosophy about life in his music – Samar had found meaning in reinterpretations, or he calls it, in the “possibilities in impossibilities”.

Respecting the fluidity that defined this style and the way he “let each song write itself freely”, Samar wanted to steer clear of putting his music within the box of a single genre. But, as a tribute to his Central Indian roots, he eventually titled his brand of music, “Indian percussive fingerstyle“.