In Conversation With Raghu Dixit

Raghu Dixit. The man has been in the habit of making waves from the time he released his debut album, something he got the illustrious VishalShekhar to produce and launch as their debut venture. The composers did not miss, the hatke sort of tunes caught everyone’s attention, India and abroad – particularly in the UK. Before long Raghu and his boys were topping the iTunes World Music charts in UK and playing at Glastonbury and the like. In between he also forayed into film music, starting off with Kannada. The Bollywood debut had to wait, but it did finally happen a few days back. And a remarkable one there too, Dheaon Dheaon especially turning out to be a major hit. So we present to you an interview with the man. A big thank you to Bhairavi Jhaveri and Neysa Mendes of Little Big Noise for making this interview possible! Read on then.

Tell us a bit about your initial days, the musical beginnings.

I started my music career very late, at least compared to the young kids I see doing music these days. And I started at the absolute beginning, I learnt to play the guitar, my instrument of choice, only when I was 19 and then wrote my own songs because it was easier than trying to learn songs by all the bands I was listening to those days!

I come from a traditional Indian family and yes, my parents were definitely not thrilled at my musical inclination but if you look at it from their point of view, all they want is for you to be successful and they are trying to push you towards things they know. Now my Mum absolutely loves it that I am a musician!

The music was always in me! It just took that long to come out and make itself heard. In the meantime, life had taken me to Belgium where I was working as a microbiologist. It was there that one of my colleagues sent my song to a local radio station and looking at the fantastic response they got, convinced me to get back and follow my passion.

You were obviously aiming at going on a National scale with your debut album. Wasn’t recording in Kannada a risk? Why the choice then?

Never really a matter of great thought…which ever language comes first and sounds great in a particular melody, is used! No bias really! But singing in my own mother tongue ‘Kannada’ (spoken in Karnataka) has given me great joy simply because I find an inexplicable peace when I sing in Kannada and also suddenly I am singing to a wider audience than I ever imagined. I doubt if I would ever become this popular if I had sung in English! But no matter what language I sing in, I make it a point to explain each song before I perform…it’s very important for me to make my audience relate to what I am singing…in their joy lies my ecstasy!

On an international front you have been having a special relation with UK – Glastonbury, BBC’s Later.., topping the UK musical charts et al. How did it start off?

The tour was a result of planning for almost a year now! We toured the UK in the summer of 2009 and that was when we got some very nice reviews and had Robert, Paul and the team from Jenral / Sound Advice come forward and offer to manage us. Over the year, we were in discussions about the management and future tours of the UK and Europe to start with and the rest of the world as we go along, and this is the first of such tours!

So you can say this was a very well planned and executed tour aimed at specifically increasing our audience base and catching the attention of the right people in the UK and Europe. In fact, after a very successful first leg, we have increased the number of bookings we have for the next leg in July and have received some very interesting offers for gigs during the rest of the year and also for next year.

Coming to your score for MFK, you debuted in Kannada films way back in 2008 and did some 3 soundtracks in between. Why did the Bollywood debut take so long (I am discounting the one song in QGM)?

Well, I was waiting for someone to ask :), but seriously, the last couple of years I’ve been focusing on building a touring career outside India and playing a LOT of live shows, and I had not been seeking any work in Bollywood actively. So when Ashish Patil (Head of Y Films) called me for this project, the timing was perfect.

How did the idea for the quirky Dheaon Dheaon come about? Surprising choice of singers too, Vishal Dadlani and Aditi Singh Sharma coming out of their usual line of singing, with a change of voice too. Tell us more about it.

The situation demanded a light hearted and yet at the same time, a catchy, dance number and I think Dheaon Dheaon is the perfect combination of a melody that sticks in your head with some insane lyrics written by the amazing Anvita Dutt. When I made Vishal hear the scratch version of the song and showed him the lyrics, he loved it and it did not take long to finish that song.

I have also introduced the south Indian percussive dance and music form of tapanguchi in ‘Dheaon Dheaon’. I did this mainly because Bollywood’s association with dance music has also been as far as Bhangra or disco. So through this song, we are introducing a whole new form of dance music in Hindi film music. It was a way to showcase something about where I am from.

What other projects are you working on currently?

The material for the second album is ready and being road tested right now. Its just that we’ve put over 12 years of effort into the first album and I would really like to ensure we have done all that we can to promote it tour with it before we put something new out there. That said, you can expect to hear some good news on the album front by the end of this year!

You can read our review of Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge here.