'Writing a good song is challenging'

FUSING TUNES

'Writing a good  song is challenging'

Vibrant: Leslie Lewis DH photo by Dinesh S K

In his recent visit to the City for a concert, the talented music composer chatted candidly with Metrolife about his journey so far.

Popularly known as ‘Lezz’ in the industry, Leslie was one of the musicians to have introduced rock and pop music to the Indian audience. He agrees that he made it to the top of the charts with ‘Colonial Cousins’, a fusion band he created along with singer Hariharan. The huge success of their first album gave them both name and fame.

“‘Colonial Cousins’ gave a big break to both of us. Without ‘Colonial Cousins’, we wouldn’t be here. When I approached Hari with the concept of mixing Eastern and Western music together, he readily agreed,” he recollects.

At a time when nobody wanted to touch classics, Leslie dared to remix many old Hindi songs. But he received a mixed reaction.

“The songs became popular within a short span of time. But they got negative publicity through bad videos. The musical elements were good but the songs were picturised very badly,” he laments.

Leslie has composed jingles for almost all the brands in the country. He has also done track songs for many events, composed music for two Tamil movies and come out with albums.

Among all, what’s been the most challenging for him? “None of these are challenging,” he quips. “But writing a good song is. Once you pen good lyrics, you can fit them into any format. Composing a powerful lyric is always important,” he feels.

Leslie is excited about performing live at all the major cities through ‘Antiquity Fusion Concert’ along with Kailash Kher.

“This is the first time I am collaborating with Kailash Kher. The idea of putting Sufi and contemporary music together is wonderful. I am happy to join him as both of us share a great vibe on stage. Our concerts in Mumbai and Bangalore were a huge success,” he reveals.

He prefers to render original songs in live performances. “Live concerts always fascinate me and I want to make them interesting with my latest compositions. What’s the point of singing songs which have already aired on radio and TV? I feel concerts should be live, fresh and exciting. When I performed my latest compositions at my recent shows, people received them wholeheartedly,” explains Leslie, who has also set a studio in Mumbai.

Leslie considers himself lucky to have got the chance to compose the theme song of the ‘F1 Indian Grand Prix’, which happened in Delhi recently. “It’s a great honour for me. I had taken extra care to showcase the spirit of Delhi in that song. I had blended folk
music with a little bit of classical. The best part is I got Lucky Ali, Daler Mehendi and KK to sing it,” he beams. He is composing music for a Bollywood movie but doesn’t want to reveal much about it now.

Leslie has good memories of Bangalore. “The people of Bangalore love me a lot. I receive an amazing response every time I perform here. The audience here is more receptive to music.

I don’t get such love and respect in every city,” he says. “I had done my first gig as part of ‘Colonial Cousins’ here which was a big success. I used to come here in early 90s when it was very quiet and beautiful. Though the City has grown so much, it has still retained its charm,” he signs off.

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