F1 Indian Grand Prix was unfolding with a dazzling intensity and we could see hearts of the enthusiasts racing for the much awaited stage show. It was Hard Rock Café at Bangalore on a Sunday afternoon and a gigantic man got off from an auto rickshaw. We knew it would be an unorthodox interview. It also turned out to be a flamboyant encounter. Presenting the flair and glare, the one who sets the stage ablaze with his signature voice, the one who ruled iTunes store in the UK and eventually performed for none other than queen Elizabeth II, the one whose passion for the music emanates just as bright as his sunshine-yellow sarong, singer, composer, music director, Raghu Dixit.(View Biography)
Folk and Fusion
I haven’t learned music traditionally; neither has a farmer singing a song in a field or a taxi driver driving through Bangalore. We’re all untrained musicians, and singing a song, because it’s innate, is a basic instinct. I had always written in English and I would strum the guitar, putting up an accent. I carried that charade till I was 27 and then thankfully I went into an introspective phase — who am I, what am I — and then I realized that writing in Hindi and Kannada made me feel real. The traditional upbringing at home and the rapid westernization of almost everything around me motivated me to mix different cultures in my music and bring the various styles and genres of music into a sense of togetherness representing a universal bonding.
We are rooted at the core, but at the same time, global in its outlook. I come from a background where we take bath early in the morning and pray to the God. It’s a big mission to take ancient songs and poetry and present them to the contemporary audiences, also contemporary writers too. Two themes – love for my country and love for my family – are what I’m about. My music lives with the root, so I don’t need to go back and recollect anything. I’m the root of my next music generation.
Connecting with diverse audience
I find it important and necessary to make the audience get what I am singing, otherwise it will become just a background music for their talking! I want them to relate to my stories and connect to the song. I love the stage. Look at the energy in the room here. During the show nothing goes on my mind. There are no strategies. There are no game plans. We perform our heart out and for us each stage show is a turning point of our music career!
Music as Profession
It all depends on the individual! More importantly validation from the audience. You must consider reviews from the audience rather than reviews from your family/friends who will always give positive reviews no matter how bad you are. I didn’t choose music as my profession till I realized that I could move an alien audience with my music in Belgium. It made me think- why can’t I do the same in my home country midst my own people. I’ve always been young, impulsive and stupid, even when I made that decision to choose music over microbiology.
Happy that concepts like Coke Studio are coming up in India. When we set sailing, we didn’t have right platforms. We relied on hand-to-hand selling and mouth-to-mouth marketing when we came up with our first album. We have taken our time to come into limelight. Hence, we had to really slow down and now our 2nd album work is in progress. We have a long way to go. We have only made a good start.
Ideas: Ideals: India
Ability to adapt different cultures is what that makes India a great place.Music or learning for that matter has no bars- age, sex, race or anything. My mom completed her diploma in Computer applications and diploma in financial management at the age of 58 years.It’s all about interest and dedication. It’s never too late to start off anything.
It is very difficult to resist changes in your life. Similar is the case with the band. People come and go. Even our music keeps evolving. I never knew that people would recognize us overnight after our 4 min performance at Jools Holland show where over 2 million people were glued on to their televisions to catch legends like Robert Plant, Adele, Mavis Staples, and Arcade Fire. We got noticed in a big way. That’s how the life is- you need to grab opportunities.
India is a country with excellent mixture of traditional culture as well as modernization.One needs stay simple, down to earth and rooted to values. Today, youngsters believe in making fast money, they don’t like taking up responsibilities and not willing to work hard. I hope youth realize that there is no shortcut to success and there is no replacement for hard work. Youth must realize that hard work will definitely pay off. They need to hold on to their dreams and stay true to what they believe in. These advices are from a non-musical perspective though!