Being an interviewer myself.. have found it challenging to always come up with different, creative questions during the sessions. But, for a change, I was on the other side :) Jo had requested for an interview of mine to which I obliged acknowledging the fact that I have very little to share about my career till now.. His questions were out-of-the-box that totally motivated me to ,*rosebowl-style* ,open my mind ;) ..Here goes few excerpts from the interview :
How did film music, Avial and VJ-ing come through? How was the experience?
As I had done my schooling in Muscat, coming to India for music was because of my dreams of becoming a playback singer. I was so influenced by 80′s and early 90′s qualitative productions that all I ever wanted to do was sing for films. But when I joined for BA music and started to learn and take music a lot more seriously I realized that music is a lot more than just recordings. I was never a Rock music fan but became one when I was exposed towards it and were given opportunities to do something creative. All the credits go to Sumesh Lal sir, the creative head of a Malayalam TV channel called ‘Rosebowl’ . He discovered the artist in me and gave me an empty space to paint in with vibrant colors of music. He gave me a chance when I was new, inexperienced, totally believing in my intuitions and ideas. I got to work with Rex and Binny of Avial for a production by Rosebowl through which they invited me to perform with the band at the India Fashion Week, Delhi and ever since have been regular with the band. I have done very few films but recording in the silent space of the sound booth is immensely toxic!
Also, I came at a time when reality shows were on a boom. So to venture into playback, Rock and pure classical was a huge learning experience for me. Mass audience would still prefer commercial music anyday as it is more easier to comprehend than understanding the complexities of quality music by bands, etc. Coming to films, I have to thank Rahul Raj sir was trusting in me blindly by making me sing for Shyam sir’s Ritu. It was a fab experience. He is extremely positive and had been my mentor at that time. Also, working for Phani Kalyan for Telugu film ‘Pappu’ was another fun filled experience. Kalyan has always been a friend so it’s very informal when I work with him.
You blog about many issues in your personal blog, which is a rare thing among people in the music industry. How important it is for a musician (or an artist) to respond to socio-political issues? Do you think expressing yourself in a public space like blog would effect your career in music?
If I wasn’t a singer I would have been a journalist because I feel that is the best medium to project our views. So I decided to blog about whatever I felt about what’s happening around the world. I think it’s every human being’s duty to remain informed about what’s happening and to contribute to it in whatever small possible way. I wish I could do a lot more that is action oriented than just removing my frustration through the blog, inshallah! I hope to make an impact through my views someday. My western sir has always said that we can become a good artist only if we are a good, well informed human. There are people who have expressed their dislike towards my career just because I am open about my views but it doesn’t matter because it’s better to be honest than being a hypocrite. Nothing can effect your career if you are ethical towards the society and work. One should not live in the fear of losing work but in the adverse effects of being ignorant.
You sing for Avial, a rock band. There was a time when Rock music was considered evil or indecent among many in our society. Do you think it has changed?
I don’t know if Rock was considered evil, but was definitely not so popular as it is now. People have learnt to open their minds and we can see an increase in the Rock culture nowadays especially among youngsters. But there are many who live under the wrong impression of rock being all about head banging and walking around like a crazy person who parties and swears all the time. It’s an absolute cliche!! Rock can be just as subtle as eastern music and can at the same time give you an adrenalin pump. If you hang around with Avial band itself you will realize how less they talk and how more they speak through their music. The cliche about Rock musicians being high on drugs and having a rugged lifestyle is totally untrue. True (rock) musicians are very much ethical, who don’t believe in using inappropriate language on the stage and who work very hard in sounding extravagant every time.
Popular concepts of music still revolves around film music. Do you see any changes there? What hope do the independent music and musicians have in Kerala?
Popular music has always been filmi music but it hardly stays around for a long time. Sound programming is at it’s peak now and melody has been given less importance now. I don’t even know if the songs made today will be remembered in the next few years. But it’s more easy to understand, glamorous and more fast paced in terms of it’s release and promotions. Where as, bands take almost 2-3 years to come up with an album and another 2 years to popularize through live gigs. But the scene is changing. We have Amit Trivedi in Bollywood who has elevated bollywood music to another level through Dev D, NOKJ and Prashanth Pillai in Malayalam who has broken of the typical commercial line up with City Of God. At the same time, Motherjane did an OST for Malayalam movie “Anwar” and Avial has also done an OST for another Malayalam movie “Salt N’ Pepper”. So film music industry has also begun to ape towards greater heights in terms of qualitative music. Independent musicians don’t anyways work for commercial hype. They just want to be part of good music that will be etched in our hearts for a long long time. So whether they being commercially acclaimed or not doesn’t really matter to them.
If you have found this interesting enough.. then you can CLICK HERE to read the whole interview.