When East meets West

When East meets West

Fusion forward

When East meets West

He is a blend of the East and West — an Asian living in the UK — and he reflects that perfectly in the music he produces. Taking over the YouTube world by storm overnight with a song that was an unstoppable jingle in everyone’s head — ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ — he saw his life change quickly. Today, Arjun is a worldwide phenomenon who is known for his fusion of contemporary Western and Eastern sounds, combining soulful R&B with elements of South Asian music.

He says, “I think by now I’ve figured out the formula that makes my music what it is. I’ve realised that I need to draw the perfect balance so that my audience can enjoy it.” Another song that hit all the right notes is ‘I’ll Be Waiting (Kabhi Jo Badal)’, released earlier this year.

Arjun was recently in India and he hopes to have a wider tour around the country early next year. When asked what his first music memory was, he says, “To be honest, I got into singing pretty late. I played the guitar, drums and keyboard for a band. But the first time I sang was when I was in high school and I did a cover of one of Jay Sean’s songs. I took singing seriously only after I joined college.”

Those days, music wasn’t as important as cricket. With an interest in graphic designing, he thought he would enter that stream, but fate brought him where he is now. Arjun’s music in mainly influenced by Bollywood songs. He says, “One of the reasons I got into Bollywood was because of Aishwarya Rai. Growing up, I was a huge fan of hers and my Indian friends would get together and watch her movies. I’ve realised that Bollywood music in general has a strong energy and the core of the music is an emotional melody. That’s where I draw my inspiration from, and just like Bollywood melodies, my music is also mostly an R&B ballad kind.”

When he writes the lyrics to remake a song, he says he considers the storyline of the video before everything else. “The lyrics only flow through when I’ve figured out what the final video will be like. I remixed the popular song ‘Teri Meri’ from the movie ‘Bodyguard’ in such a way that it gave out the same message — a romantic tale of a couple who couldn’t be together — but gave my own twist to it,” he adds.

Recently, he released a song called ‘Frozen’ on iTunes. Explaining the sound, he says, “It’s the introduction to the kind of sounds I’m working on. I used to make a lot of original music before I dived into remixes — many people don’t know that — so I want to get back to it. ‘Frozen’ is a collaboration with Sway, a popular UK rapper, and the song was written and produced by me. This is just a teaser and the other songs are going to be better.”

The UK artiste has also produced and sung songs in South Indian movies such as ‘Vanakkam Chennai’, ‘Biryani’, ‘Valeba Raja’ and in Bollywood for movies like ‘Creature 3D’. Before he performs on stage, he says he has a habit of washing his hands numerous times and is not sure why. “It’s a weird ritual that I can hopefully put an end to by next year. I’m going to add it to my New Year’s resolution list,” he says, laughing. The talented singer also holds a hidden talent of beat-boxing that he’s used in a few of his songs.

If one were to browse through his playlist, would they find any embarrassing songs on it? “You know what, once upon a time I used to be embarrassed to have Justin Bieber
on my list, but I think he has done a fabulous job with the new album. I guess you can go ahead and call me a ‘Belieber’,” he says with a smirk.

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