Return to the roots
Bangalore’s very own quirky musician who is known for his traditionally unorthodox attire (bright-coloured dhotis and shirts) and his folksy tunes, Raghu Dixit needs no introduction. Having composed eclectic songs that transcend genres, Raghu is admired for making music that he truely believes in and harks back to his roots.
Raghu is a singer, songwriter, producer and film score composer. A gold medalist in Microbiology (Master’s) and proficient in Bharatanatyam, Raghu is known more for his musical compositions. He is the founder-front man of his band The Raghu Dixit Project and Antaragni (which disbanded in 2004). As the founder-front man of his bands, Raghu has performed in hundreds of concerts all over India. The Raghu Dixit Project launched its debut album Antaragni: The Fire Within in 2008, which was well received.
Raghu is a self-taught musician. “I started with Indian classical dance,” he says, “And went on to play the guitar after a college-mate of mine placed a bet that I couldn’t learn the guitar in two songs. What started as my attempt to win that bet, became everything for me. I loved the feeling of being able to just sing and make music. From there on, it has been one long roller-coaster journey.”
Language no bar
Speaking about his multi-lingual folk band, Raghu says, “The Raghu Dixit Project is an amalgamation of musicians and artistes that I really want to work with to perform my music live. As any musician or composer will tell you, there is nothing better than performing your music to an audience, and I do that through The Raghu Dixit Project.”
And about creating multi-lingual compositions, Raghu says, “I don’t think I do this consciously. I am comfortable with singing in Kannada, my mother tongue and Hindi, our national language, and I sing in both these languages. Recently, I wrote my first Tamil song, and I love how it has turned out. I would definitely love to write and sing in as many languages as I can. It’s amazing to see audiences around the world respond positively to my music. I have seen people, regardless of age or gender or race or language, enjoy the music the band plays, and I’ve seen this in different corners of the world. I just want to continue making music that I think is the best I can do, and hope the audience continues to love it.”
Raghu confesses, “I have only worked with folk lyrics, stories and ideas. The music is original and composed by me. Even when I work on a classic folk song, I only use the lyrics and the essence of the song, and compose a new melody and musical arrangement for it. My biggest inspiration has been the folk music and tradition of Karnataka, and I have tried a variety of things with it, as you will see in the songs on my upcoming album.”
Apart from his albums and live performances, Raghu has also produced music for contemporary dance and theatre productions like the Indian contemporary dance group Nritarutya and Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana and Black Coffee’s Body Catcher, which brought him critical acclaim as a composer for theatre productions.
On performing live
Speaking about his recent performance at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Raghu says, “Bacardi NH7 Weekender is one of the biggest music festivals around today. Not just biggest in scale, but also in terms of quality right from the days they had teething problems to this date as an established professional event.” The Raghu Dixit Project and Lagori performed at the recently concluded Bacardi Weekender event to build awareness and hype for the Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2013 music festival. “Next, we are playing in New Delhi on 13 September,” informs Raghu.
“We have been associated with Bacardi Weekender for the last four years now, ever since it started,” he says, talking about his association with Bacardi NH7 Weekender adding, “And we have played at several venues so far: Pune, Delhi, and this year, they have added another venue — Kolkata. It’s almost like we have become the mascots for the event.”
Referring to the recent performance in Bangalore, Raghu says, “It was a huge collaborative event with musicians from all over Karnataka coming together.”
On a concluding note, Raghu adds, “I think the folk music scene in India is finally getting a much needed boost. A lot of people have started discovering a wide variety of folk music from India because of the different people who are working with it and interpreting it differently. As Indians, we have always had a soft corner for our folk music, and with so many people working on making it accessible in a contemporary way, I think our folk music is in a really good place now.”