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'I like being in creative control'

Rohini Kejriwal, Jun 9, 2014, DHNS : 19:42 IST

Honest songwriting

For Prateek Kuhad, life came full circle after he moved back to New Delhi after a stint in New York, where he began his songwriting career.

Currently one of the most celebrated singer-songwriters in a rapidly growing independent music scene, all he needs is a pen, paper and guitar to create little pieces of resounding joy that are marked by honest lyrics and simple melodies.

“It was more a personal choice to move back versus a professional one. My family is also here but the fact that the music scene is growing by leaps and bounds also made the decision easier. It’s a good time to be a musician in India,” he states.

After releasing a self-titled English EP in 2011 and Raat Raazi, a Hindi EP last August, he’s ready to get into studio mode in a month’s time to start recording his first studio album. “I’m currently working on an album that I plan to put out early next year. The album will be fuller in terms of sound with the electric guitar, strings etc being used in addition to the staple ingredients like acoustic guitar, drums and bass.”
It’s impressive to see the ease with which the Jaipur-born musician switches between Hindi and English in his songs. So the curiosity about why he’s working on an English album after a Hindi EP is understandable. “I’ve always been writing and performing in both. For me, language isn’t really a barrier. It’s about the music. I talk and think in a mix of both,” he clarifies.

Does he perhaps have a muse to inspire him? He replies, “The inspiration for the music comes from a combination of what’s going on around me and what I’m listening to at the time.

Songwriting is pretty personal for me and it’s me expressing how I’m feeling. If something significant happens in my life, I usually find myself writing about it.”

While he started off as a solo act, he often performs with a band comprising Nikhil Vasudevan on percussion, Akshay Johar on bass and Nawa Lanzilotti on cello these days.

But he’s more comfortable in his own solo space, admits Prateek. “The reason is that I’ve always written my songs alone. Even with a band, we play songs that I’ve written. I’m still not completely comfortable being a collaborative musician. I’m certainly not opposed to it but I like being in creative control of the sound of my act,” says Prateek.

“I’ve seen that performing solo really works in certain venues where people are sitting and actually listening to the music at say, a quiet amphitheatre or a house gig. But in a noisy pub, people don’t notice the band till the first snare kicks in. I started off playing solo gigs but realised that in pubs and noisy venues, more instruments help make the sound bigger.

I also started to eventually enjoy that bigger sound. But for me, the songwriting process is the real reason I’m doing this. All I need is a pen, paper and guitar in a quiet place,” he signs off.

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