The Score Magazine May 2017 - Page 17

You have an exotic touch to your profile having hailed from Canada. Did that give you an extra fillip during your foray in Bollywood as a strong command on world music scene is considered an added bonus today? I firmly believe, versatility is a real valuable trait for any singer. And that quality develops from a keen indulgence in eclectic genres of music. Growing up in Canada, I was exposed to both western and Indian music equally. So I have spontaneously developed an ability to build up my skills in two distinct spheres of music — first by training in western classical singing, second by self-practice with Indian songs of various kinds. Thus having the aptitude to blend western vocal techniques with the nuances of Indiangayaki was something that has helped me begin the process of shaping a unique sound of my own over a period of time. How has been your musical grooming in Canada? Would you miss your desi sangeet on a foreign land till you decided to pack bags and shift base? Performing at events in Canada was quite a different experience for me than it has ever been here in India. But overall, it propped me up well to prepare for the various types of events I dabbled in while visiting back home. In Canada, most events tend to be for an audience of amalgamated Indian cultures, so the energies and expectations span over a wide range. Seems like language is never a barrier for you and you have sung in several regional lingos. How do you manage this? I use phonetics to learn the lyrics of languages am unfamiliar with. This is a very scientific approach for me. I rewrite the words based on how they sound to me, and over time, I have developed a sort of a legend of my own that I can apply to each and every vernacular I chanced upon to croon in. It’s really important to me to get the diction right. So I take aid of those immediately around me who natively speak the language of the song to help me correct my pronunciation while I’m picking up the tongue. You could have easily chosen a career in corporate business or health science as your academic background highlights the same. Instead you chose music. Was it all about your passion’s call? Deep down inside, singing was always my happy- haven, but I wanted to have a strong academic backing before attempting to pursue a career in music. Getting a good education as a solid backup was something my parents had instilled in me. So once I completed my studies, I was confident of giving the vocalist’s discipline a fair chance as a full- time preoccupation, knowing well that I have a stable foundation to fall back on, lest my career flunks to take off properly. So here I stand now feeling absolutely content and thankful to having followed my gut in chasing my passion for music. I’m also grateful that I had the much- needed support-system to succeed on this score. Who has been your greatest guide, support and source of inspiration in music? I owe it to many people who have along the way shared their experiences with me, provided that desirable relevant guidance and have also continued to support me on this ever-changing journey. I’d like to first and foremost refer to my parents for incessantly motivating and encouraging me through thick and thin. Musically, I am inspired by those who push boundaries and exude the self-sufficiency required to manifest their dreams into reality. Your respected father — Deepak Gandhi — too is a musician by hobby and was the first person to unearth your talent. How did he encourage and introduce you to music? My dad has been leading a music band in Toronto since I was a kid. When he first realized that I had a knack for singing, he cheered me on to learn and practise the craft. I was very shy as a child and he made all the efforts to trigger that spark in me and help me discover my true calling which lies in music. Thanks to his push and belief in me and the opportunities that he provided along my path by allowing me to perform with his band, that today I am where I am. I stand at a certain height now to keep challenging myself by adopting new techniques and grasping the essential ropes of the musical vocation. Was Bollywood naturally your next step towards progression in terms of music? Didn’t you think of trying your luck on international platforms? Well, I have always had this aim to take my penchant to an international level, since I grew up in a place where Bollywood wasn’t the be-all and end-all when it came to entertainment. I remember waiting to be 16 so that I could be old enough to audition for certain English musicals and also participate at the Canadian singing competitions. That being said, it was solely the Indian music that lent me an identity while in Canada. Because I had the most prospects to showcase my talent and culture when I sang Hindi and Punjabi songs, and so that became the primary focus as far as professional singing went. How important was your training in both western and Hindustani classical music given the fact that it’s a rare combo to spot in an artiste’s CV? Though I manage to deliver the techniques required in semi- classical songs that I perform, my training in Hindustani classical music has been limited thus far. This is something I would really like to work upon. I’m grateful that I have learnt a bit of both styles though, and I hope I can learn a lot more soon. I think the more styles you know, the more fun you can have taking on new characters in the studio as a playback singer. You tasted fame by posting your music videos of super hit covers on the YouTube that went viral. How significant do you think is grabbing this digital space in today’s times to make yourself heard across the board? The rise of YouTube and social media as digital platforms for artistes to exhibit their work has increased substantially since I had first begun uploading videos back in 2011. I think it’s a perfect window for artistes to adjudge their pluses and minuses alike. Yet at the same time it brings them a golden opportunity to be heard and seen by audiences, significant musical personalities, music producing companies and record labels across the world. Tell us about your first break in Bollywood and how it all happened. A friend of mine was working at Vishal-Shekhar’s studio as an engineer and had taken me to visit his workstation. The Score Magazine 15