'India's got talent but not direction'

Strong point

'India's got talent but not direction'

The name of Lesle Lewis is a familiar one in most Indian households. From being one of the first composers to introduce audiences to pop and rock music to his ‘Colonial Cousins’ days to being the creative and music director of Coke Studio, he’s had a more colourful career than most of his peers can claim.

Metrolife caught up with Lesle, who will also perform at the Storm Festival as ‘Lesle Lewis and Gen X’.

“I’m presenting the next generation, who will be featured in my new album. The ‘Gen X’ includes my daughter Divya and the children of Hariharan, Shankar Mahadevan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, L Subramaniam and Loy Mendonsa. It’s Electronic Dance Music (EDM) presented in a more melodious fashion. I don’t see why Mummy and Daddy shouldn’t enjoy EDM,” shares Lesle.

He adds, “I feel that India’s got talent but not direction. Young musicians need someone to guide them. I can visualise ahead of what I’m doing and these kids have been willing to experiment with that. It’s been a lot of fun working with them.”

Looking back at his musical journey, Lesle says, “At every point, I’m giving the younger crowd a chance to get into a certain zone of music. When I was doing Hindi pop, I was the only one doing that. In creating that genre, I had to live through it, fight for it and from there go into remixes, classical fusion with ‘Colonial Cousins’ and then Coke Studio. In some way, I got the live-band culture kicking.”

Of course, the independent music scene has also undergone drastic changes during this time. “For one, record labels aren’t funding and making albums anymore.

 So it’s up to the artiste to fund his own album, make the music video and even invest in marketing. When we sold #1, the albums sold in lakhs. But now, there’s no money coming back to the music promoters, which is why they have no vested
interest in the project,” he opines.

Even when it comes to the recent digitalisation of music, Lesle has a strong viewpoint. “There’s been a big shift in the way music is being marketed and consumed. In reality, digital can earn you serious bucks if you have all the correct rights in place. Whoever buys it digitally obviously pays you lesser than they would for a physical copy.

But instead of one lakh people buying the CD, there’s now 50 lakh people buying it digitally or downloading it illegally. That’s why record companies are still surviving. But now, I can listen to and download any song I want for free sitting in my bedroom, because of which music has no value.

The value only exists in the live music experience because that’s something you can’t download,” he explains. “Now, I can even record a song in my bedroom if I want. But for a studio that has invested millions of dollars on the physical space and equipment, there’s no value anymore!” adds Lesle.

The versatile musician confesses to being a big fan of Bangalore. “Bangalore’s one of my favourite music cities. It’s always been very receptive, especially to international genres, which is possibly why more international acts perform here. People are open to listening to different things as long as they know you’re doing something good,” wraps up Lesle.

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