'I make a living doing it my way'
Gary Lawyer’s visit to the City this time around came at a time when the weather had taken a turn.
The downpour had caught him off-guard. Nonetheless, performing here is something he looks forward to, every time. “Delightful weather, delightful people,” the musician says.
As that may be, he strolls through his rather eventful career. “It was a natural journey,” he says of his days as a nightclub singer in New York. “I knew I wanted to be a singer more than anything. But don’t know when I became one.
When I came back from New York to India, I was at a friend’s concert. I sang a song and the next day, I had offers coming in,” he says. He was performing, recording and the jingles too were happening; Gary’s bass baritone was in fact creating a change in the Indian soundscape. “I am comfortable with all genres — rock, pop, jazz, country or folk.
Point out that his voice has been particularly compared to Jim Morrison and he says, “I am thankful for being appreciated. It is a gift from nature.”
“I grew up listening to everyone – from Bach, Mozart and Nat King Cole to Elvis and ‘The Doors’. My father had a huge collection of records and I was exposed to all kinds of music,” he informs. The exposure has indeed manifested in his albums.
Talking of which, he says, “My compositions are jazz-oriented. There is ‘High Standards’ – an album of jazz standards,” he says of the one that was recorded with Louis Banks. “I am also proud of ‘The Other Side of Dawn’,” he adds. Remind him about the part he played, as young Presley, in the musical ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’, and he chips in, “It was wonderful to be a part of a play and live on stage,” he adds.
All along, he has kept fame at a distance, and Bollywood too. The truth is he never let himself get enamoured by Bollywood, but survived to tell the tale. “I make a living doing it my way. I am purely a Western musician, a dedicated one. Though I speak Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati fluently, I don’t think I can sing in Hindi.”
“India has an exaggeration of Bollywood, it’s all powerful. Western music has no platform here, apart from the youth festivals. You have to fight the system for it. Even if you look at channels, there is hardly any for Western music except perhaps one. However, I think Western music is slowly gaining momentum. In fact, there are so many bands in Bangalore,” he says. There is remorse when he talks about lack of public spaces because performing live is quintessentially Gary Lawyer.
“I love to perform live. It’s only the travel part that I don’t like so much. The night crowd is always great,” he adds. He may have been in the arena for quite a while, but frankly, he is great competition to any young artiste out there.