It is always a great challenge for a musician to make his debut with a classic song, which has in the past been covered by many great artists, and turn out a commendable job of it. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, consider a case where the musician himself does the instruments, modified lyrics and in the end launches the song on his own label. This “all-rounder” happens to be Dilpreet Bhatia, a Delhi-based folk-rock singer/songwriter, who recently came out with his debut single, a tribute to the great Nusrat Fateh Ali. Dilpreet is our spotlight artist for the week.
Let us start with a brief about you, your
musical background and so on.
I am based in Delhi, but spent most of my childhood in a small town of Fatehabad in Haryana, Started learning music from my teachers at school there. Performed in school and college fests but never thought that I would take music so seriously. Went to Bangalore for a Software Job and suddenly I started feeling that something is missing out here…I cant live without performing, without music. I came to Delhi and started learning Hindustani Classical from my Guruji Sumitra Guha and kept on trying and trying to do what I love to do, perform where ever I could and write whatever I felt….
Trying to cover a classic, especially by someone like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is always a
high risk venture, with high chances of the song not going down well with purists, fans et
al. Nevertheless you chose to do just that (and did a beautiful job of it, we should add!).
So why Nusratji? And why this particular song?
I must say that I am honored, and thanks a lot for your kind words. I am a great fan of Nusrat Ji…his compositions are legendary. And the simple reason I chose this song was that ‘I loved it’ and I could relate to this song. I was not thinking of any risk when i was improvising it.Â I hope you would have noticed that the antra of this song is not what Nusrat Ji have sung. What he has done, is legendary. And lot of artists like Kailash Kher, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and NFAK have sung this song before.Â but extending it, writing new antras and giving them a whole tune…ya it may be scary but this is how I feel one with the song and I am honored that people liked this version and I hope that if he(Nusrat Ji) could listen to this song from up there, he wont scold me after hearing it…
At a time when most Punjabi songs tend towards the cacophonous orchestration, it is
refreshing to hear purely acoustic songs which bring out the real beauty of Punjabi Sufi
music. Was the arrangement entirely handled by you as well? And who is the pianist?
Ya, I did the music arrangement, recording and mixing for this song at my home studio, and all the intruments on this song, including piano, are played by me.
Today the easiest path to fame is quite evidently reality shows, and there have been many
who got their 15 minutes (and more) of fame through this. And considering you have good
talent as well, why did you not opt for that route?
I never thought its a good option for me.
This song has been launched via your own private label, Sur & Soul Records. Do you plan
to go big on the labels front, by trying to launch albums of other artists as well, or are you
going to employ Sur & Soul for your songs alone?
Sur ‘n’ Soul Records will not be limited to my songs alone, we have plan to launch other artists as well, mostly associated with hindustani classical. But it will remain an Indie Label.
Needless to say, launching a single costs a lot of money. Is music your sole bread-winner,
or are you employed otherwise?
I am also working as Lead Software Engineer for creative software giant Adobe Systems Inc.
You have come out with your first single now. When do you plan to launch a full album? And is that going to be all covers or are you working on some own comps as well?
The full album is already ready, Its in Punjabi, and songs have been written, composed and sung by me and directed by Leslie Lewis of Colonial Cousins. I have also collaborated with 6 times Grammy Winning Mixing Engineer Ken Lewis for one of songs in this Album. We are right now showcasing it to labels and hopefully it should be out very very soon.
The staple musician question – who are your influences?
Ghulam Ali, Nusrat Ji, Pt Jasraj, U2, A R Rahman and my Guruji Sumitra Guha, have had the greatest influence on me and my music.
A lot of Indian musicians are currently collaborating with international musicians with
great success. Have you explored that possibility?
Yes, I have recently completed recording a song for UK based producer Shammi Pithia, Did one song with Ken Lewis, which is featured in my upcoming album, and currently working on a multiple song project with Canadian band Nawticks.
Next pitstop would be Bollywood we are guessing. Anything on that front yet?
Nothing on that front right now, this Single and Album have been keeping me busy for now, but ya, I am surely gonna give it a shot.
We wish you all the best, and hope your debut album happens soon indeed.
Another spotlight artist coming up your way soon!
- In Conversation with Harshdeep Kaur
- Announcing.. Director’s Cut!!
- In Conversation with the Colonial Cousins
- Runa Rizvi, the Jaane Tu lady.. an interview
- Klassical Korner..
- In Conversation With Raghu Dixit
- Ek: The Power of One – Music Review
- Swagatham, the official theme song of Commonwealth Games 2010 launched by A R Rahman
- Coke Studio @ MTV Season 1 Episode 3: Music Review
- Kohram: By Amanat Ali – Music Review