Ehsaan Noorani. The middle name of SEL.

ehsaanHe has been in the business of making wonderful music for over 15 years now, first as part of Instant Karma, and then as part of the legendary Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, even earning a national award for best composer in the process. We proudly present to you our interview of guitarist-composer Ehsaan Noorani, where he speaks of his musical journey.

Let us start at the beginning. So when did you pick up the guitar for the first time? I remember hearing once about rapper Ravi “Rags” Khote being your school senior, you jamming with him in school et al.

I got interested in guitar while at school towards the 8th or 9th grade Rags was in the school band and the guitar was a common meeting ground for us . we sit and discuss guitar and music in general 🙂
Your first step to a collaborative effort was the formation of Instant Karma with Loy. Could you tell a bit about that? About how you hit upon the idea of coming out with remixes, a concept pretty much unheard of at that time?

Well Bally Sagoo had done the first Bollywood flashback or whatever it was called, Farhad Wadia thought that re-recording these songs and making new versions of them would be interesting, sort of bringing the songs to the 90’s . The Dance Masti albums were not re mixes so to say but were new contemporary versions of the songs.
Would it be right to say that Instant Karma sort of led to the formation of SEL, considering among the singers you employed in your Dance Masti album the most popular was Shankar Mahadevan with his classic Saamne Yeh Kaun Aaya?

Well Mukul Anand’s Dus was already recorded before the 1st Dance Masti album released so it has nothing to do with SEL. But yes we were all working together and Shankar was the first choice.

How do you go about composing a song? Curious to know, given that there are three minds from diverse backgrounds at work, trying to converge upon a tune. And do you have a regular percussionist on-board? Given Shankar Mahadevan is an established percussionist as well, does he do percussions too, at least once a while?

We sit and jam and come up with ideas it is an interesting exchange of musical ideas and a learning experience for the 3 of us everytime we sit to compose a song . We use percussionists as and when required and do not have any fixed percussionist so to say. Shankar’s sense of rhythm makes him adept on percussion but he is not a professional percussionist so to say.

Your music for Rock On primarily followed a riff-based classic rock template. Have heard that you were part of a rock band while in the US. Did Magik’s music in any manner echo your rock band days?

Well the story of Rock On would reflect on any musician’s life especially if you played rock n roll or in a band, some are lucky to make it a career others have to give up on it due to external pressures.
The Indian rock scene is currently burgeoning, with a lot of new singers coming out with bands of their own, some even going on to make it really big. A process that I would say was helped on its way by Rock On too. Your thoughts? Have you noticed any promising bands?

The Indian rock scene is developing in a big way irrespective of Rock On. But yes, the film did encourage a lot of kids to take up an instrument and that is a good sign. There are some good bands like Avial , Taksha , Motherjane , Them Clones etc.
Continuing on the above note, I remember reading on Milliblog some time back about your plans to start something called “SEL Sounds” to promote new talent in the country. Is the plan still on?

Well SEL Songs does exist we need to get it rolling soon.

Shankar Mahadevan is pretty active on the fusion scene, with Remember Shakti, Mynta etc. Even Loy was part of the fusion ensemble called Shraddha alongside Shankar, Mandolin Srinivas and Sivamani. Are you engaged in any such group outside of SEL? And have you considered revisiting the private album scene as SEL?

We have a band called Faces in The Dark which is a bluesy funk band and have recently formed a band called ” Fuzzy Duck ” which is a blues rock band . Well the non-film album with SEL will happen when it is fated to 🙂
What kind of music did you grow up listening to? Who were your child hood idols? Did they endure the test of times?

I grew up listening to primarily Hindi Music on the radio . My father listened to a lot of Latin music like Los Parguayos and instrumental stuff like Mantovani and Paul Mauriat . I later heard the Ventures and The Shadows . Then I was exposed to lot of music my sister would listen to like Santana , The Beatles , Carpenters , Abba etc Then of course Deep Purple got me into rock and then I progressed in music listening choices from rock to blues to fusion etc.
How much of the guitar portion of SEL’s music do you handle? The playing part I mean.

I do all the guitar parts for SEL except like in an upcoming film some Spanish and Bossa style guitar was required which is not really my style so we hired some guitarists to play that .
We have heard that you are into collecting guitars. Can you tell us more about this hobby?

Well it is a hobby that enhances my profession I have a bunch of guitars and am the brand ambassador for Fender guitars for India. My signature model Fender will be launching soon.
And finally, what music would we find in your ipod? 🙂

Ah am currently listening to Kings of Leon , Robben Ford , Michael Landau , John Mayer and then there is tons of stuff which is on the ipod but will fill up an entire page !!!!

Somulin says:

very nice and Interesting post and thanks for sharing.

Eyelastin says:

I will bookmark it for sharing with my friends.Really great presentation of information,Thanks again.