June 19 2013 Latest news:
Fathima Sumaya Khan
Monday, July 18, 2011
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon I am sitting in a cosy Central London office waiting to interview a rising musician. A heavily built man clad in denims and a T shirt (a far cry from his on stage ‘avatar’(image) ) walks in and shakes hands with me.
Has played in more than two-hundred and fifty shows in India.
Has toured the USA, the UK, Korea, Japan, Russia and Hong Kong to date.
Has performed ‘No man will ever love you like I do’ live with band members on Later with Jools Holland, BBC2.
Feature’s on cover of Songlines magazine July edition and has won Songlines Music Awards for Best Newcomer in 2011.
Is planning on releasing another album next year.
I ask him “Hegidira?”(How are you in Kannada(Indian language)) “Super aagidini” (superfine) he replies, with a beaming smile. Meet Raghu Dixit, singer, lyricist, composer from South Indian state of Karnataka, India.
Raghu is the latest music sensation to hit the subcontinent with an enviable fan following after strumming for ‘Hey Bhagwan’ a rebellious musical piece that introduced Indian music fanatics to a new form altogether.
Dixit is consistently becoming popular with the Indian and foreign press for his foot tapping music of universal appeal.
His genre is ethnic with an amalgamation of styles from different parts of the world. He is also very popular among the masses for making the traditional South Indian attire a fashion statement and adding a line or two of English while singing.
After taking India’s music scene by storm, the thirty-seven-year-old, former scientist, is eyeing the UK music market and is touring the UK currently.
During a tete-a-tete for Ilford Recorder, at Sound Advice, his UK base, Dixit pours out his heart and talks about his passion, his profession….music.
Here are some excerpts from the interview.
How did you begin your musical journey?
It started when I was nineteen-year-old. A friend in college teased me for being a Bharatanatyam dancer. He felt it was not very manly to master the traditional South Indian dance form usually learnt by the fairer sex.
He was a singer and guitarist. I threw a challenge to him saying “I can sing and play the guitar too and act ‘cool’ like you buddy. Give me sixty days”. He didn’t know how serious I was.
I attended Christian seminaries to learn English songs and be able to use the guitar at the Church. All this happened without the knowledge of my conservative parents. I feared resentment at home towards understanding what Western music is. While I was in college I was banned from wearing denims. Anything western was a complete no. (Laughs)
In a month what started as a challenge went on to become the biggest turning point in my life. I felt music liberates the soul and frees me from all bondages. I was a dancer but felt crippled to stick to norms while performing Bharatanatyam. A year after the challenge a friend gifted a guitar to me that I proudly took home.
Today I am a musician who sings what he believes in.
I have always written my own songs. I mix music of different kinds both Indian and international. The sense of freedom I achieve in doing so is irreplaceable.
What was the major breakthrough you achieved after you ventured into music?
I formed a band ‘Antaragni’ (Fire Within) that kept playing music for more than eight years; we also opened for Brian Adam’s concert in Bangalore during 2001. Eventually the band disintegrated and I conceptualised The Raghu Dixit Project in 2005. Its debut album, Raghu Dixit is out now.
What is the project all about and how has it been received?
The project celebrates the coming together of musicians from different genres. It breaks the ‘one band’ concept while we are touring our playing locally. I am loved by people where ever I go.
The success of the project has opened doors of filmdom and tours abroad. I have been funding all my travels so far with the money generated from my work. My songs are very popular in Sandalwood (Kannada film industry).
Bollywood is opening its arms too. After singing and scoring a song for ‘Quick Gun Murugan’ in 2009, I am scoring the music for Y-Films (subsidiary of Yash Raj Films) soon to be released musical ‘Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge’. The music is atypical to what I have been doing all these years.
It must be showering awards and recognition for you in India?
Honestly none at home so far (with a sad strain in his voice). Internationally I have won the best new comer by Songlines Music Awards 2011.
Awards or recognition of any kind matter to me at home and abroad, but I am a man on a mission. I feel very strongly about my pride that is ‘Kannada’ language. I want to reinstate its dwindling popularity among the young generation in the state of Karnataka.
It gives me immense satisfaction when I see the funky Kannada youth of today sing and dance to Kannada songs at my concerts and discotheques or simply listen to my music.
While I am abroad I feel proud to see international crowd cheering and dancing to my music. It is a very fulfilling experience.
Tell us about your UK tour….
It’s my fifth time in the UK. The project, opening the Glastonbury Festival of Performing Arts at Worthy Farm, Pilton, on June 24, plays at various locations across the UK.
It’s a gruelling schedule packed with music, interviews and meetings.
The highlight of Dixit’s UK tour was his performance at the closing night of The London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) at Cineworld, Haymarket, on July 14.
What is your message for music enthusiasts and the young in particular?
I hope my singing motivates people to pursue music seriously. In India bands look up to me as someone who has made a mark with unusual music. I urge everyone to attend my concerts and enjoy my music. He signs off....