In Conversation with Raghu Dixit on “Jag Changa”
By Amaan Khan
When The Raghu Dixit Project (TRDP) performs live, crowds stop being agitated, lose the defensive awkwardness by releasing the folded arms, become tightly knit, and start singing in a language most of them have never spoken before – Kannada. Such is the magic of the Raghu Dixit-led folk rock band who’ve recently released their new album “Jag Changa”. What’s more is they’ve been nominated for the Live Quotient Awards 2013 in the ‘Best Band’ category comfortably racing past indie veterans like Indian Ocean, Swarathma, Agnee, and Parikrama among others.
The album, which features Hindi and Kannada tracks, is packed with emotionally charged ballads as well as cannoning up-tempo songs, which are laced with optimistic lyrics. After taking six long years and recording this album thrice, Raghu Dixit has proven that he wants to be known for his “… great music”. soundplunge_test spoke to Raghu Dixit on TRDP, his new album, and his inspirations that bring “Jag Changa” to life.
soundplunge_test: How different would you say “Jag Changa” is in comparison to your previous album? What’s the one binding thought that brings “Jag Changa” together?
Raghu Dixit: “Jag Changa” is dramatically different, this time around. I have collaborated and incorporated sounds from various parts of the world and the songs themselves, I think, show a lot of growth in me as a song writer and in the sound of the band!
ST: It’s amazing how you make people sing the Kannada song “Lokada Kalaji” at your live performances. It seems to be everyone’s favourite. What is it about the song that you think makes it click so well with audiences?
RD: The song has a fun melody and is easy to sing along to I guess. And, a lot of people like the challenge of it all (smiles).
ST: What inspired you to create the single “Amma” from your latest album?
RD: “Amma” has only Tamil lyrics and I thought about writing this one day when I was in the middle of my travels and realised that I hadn’t spoken to my mom in a while, and here I was spending so much time and effort entertaining audiences around the world with my music but hadn’t written a song for my mother and made her sit and listen to it.
Madan Karky’s words and my dear friend Bhaskar’s violin playing brought this truly special song to life!
ST: For The Raghu Dixit Project you hire musicians contractually. How well does that work for you as opposed to working with a fixed set of musicians?
RD: It is still a fixed set of musicians, and the contract is a logistical thing. I still work with a fixed set of artists and try and expand that set as much as I can I am lucky I have such great musicians I can bank on with my music!
ST: How different is it composing for Bollywood from your independent music?
RD: (It’s) not very different in terms of effort and interest. With my music, I am starting from a blank canvas, but with Bollywood or any other movie / jingle project, it is music written to a brief. And that brief comes from different places and it is a collective effort to get the song right for the scene or the situation etc.
ST: How welcoming is the Kannada film industry to your indie sounds?
RD: I don’t know if it matters. My music is for my fans and for people who like it, and it doesn’t really depend on what the film industry thinks of it. When I make music for a film, then I guess it matters.
ST: You worked with rap artistes Machas with Attitude (MWA) on the song “Dheon Dheon” from the movie Mujhse Fraandship Karoge. Can you tell us what led you to incorporate rap into your music, given you’re known for your folk touch?
RD: I thought the song for that situation in the movie would do very well with rap and MWA did a fabulous job of it. I would like to be known for great music and I enjoy all the music that I make.
ST: You’re one of most popular musicians in the indie scene. How would you define success as an indie musician?
RD: Success for me is to be able to live a life in music on my terms and continue to make music and travel. It is a combination of many things!
ST: What do you feel about the indie music scene in India?
RD: I think we are at a very interesting stage with Indie music in India and we should see the scene really explode and become something big very soon!