From Sadho re, And Evening is lonely, to the sounds, And Let’s take it Indian rock band Agni’s melodious song Have been on our playlist for over 15 years. But, ask the Pune-based group about their journey and they say it’s only been “a short time” since they started. But this journey for Mohan Kannan and Kaustubh Dhawale (Coco), which began on a “lucky” note, has had its share of ups and downs – but there is no stopping them as they firmly believe that “Sweet music finds his way.”
In an exclusive email conversation with indianexpress.com, the two talked about their music careers, such as singing for films. Lal Singh ChaddhaWorking with Aamir Khan, Challenges of an Indie Band in India, Live Shows, Future Plans and more. Edited excerpt below:
How would you describe this musical journey of 15 years from 2007 to 2022?
It seems too small to be honest. All of us in the band were talking about it when we were rehearsing for the 15th anniversary show – and then we realized we made enough songs for at least a 6 hour setlist! We’ve all been lucky enough to have each other in the band at the moment, and it looks like we need to think about a 30th anniversary soon!
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Over all these years, how do you think India’s music industry has evolved, especially the indie scene?
When we released our first album in 2007, we were lucky enough to be among the last couple of Non-film actors will get big releases, TV and radio still played non-film music, but that stopped in 2008. At the time, the releases were still on CD and online streaming had not started, except perhaps with LimeWire, which was a file-sharing sort of thing.
Then, we saw how it became difficult to release non-film music as none of the labels were willing to release them. But suddenly things changed again with the advent of multiple (audio and video) streaming platforms starting with YouTube. Now, slowly we are once again finding ears and eyes to non-film music and hopefully, soon, we will again see many non-film artists rising to fame and popularity through their music. Will do
Once growing up in India, do you ever feel that Bollywood has taken over indie music/artists prominently; With many musicians inclined towards singing in films?
Movies have always been a big platform music in india, and we think it’s a good thing that movies nowadays explore so many different types of music as part of their storytelling. This simply means that there is room for a lot more musicians and also that the audience gets to listen to many different styles of music. The fact that film music is promoted more than others is also a huge plus. Being a part of films is a matter of choice for every musician and from this point of view, it would not be correct to say that Bollywood will take his place. It is what a musician chooses to do and how they choose to do it. If they are happy with the kind of music they are a part of, then it will be beneficial for them to be a part of films.
How challenging is it to grow as just an indie band/musician in India today?
We, as Agni, have been able to be successful for over 15 years without actually doing any kind of films. There is no doubt good luck, and a lot of goodwill from wonderful people that we can now proudly call friends in the industry. Both Coco and I have always been extremely eager to release our sound just the way we love it, and that’s probably why we’ve tried our music. kept honest. Rishi (on drums) and Viva (on bass) also believe the same thing.
There are many other artists who have achieved huge success in the field of non-film music, such as Local Train, symbol ax, many Punjabi singers, and others… and we are hoping that this number will only grow with quality music. The format for independent music is different as there is little amount to promote the songs or for everyone to listen to, but eventually, good music finds its way, and this is evidenced in the many viral hits we get. Heard that nowadays film is out of music.
Mohan, you have sung in many films – how different is the process/approach of working as an indie artist and playback singer?
For me, as a singer, the process is largely the same: I try to convey the lyrics and meaning of the song as best I can. With Agni, Coco and I both compose, so there’s always a composer’s touch to my way of singing and I feel that flows through in the film songs I sing, even if they are composed by someone else. be. In film music, an important thing to note is the visual context. Every song in a film is meant to justify the scene and enhance the story.
Known as a perfectionist, Aamir Khan can be challenging to work with. What was your experience like? how involved was he in the making of Story from his movie Lal Singh Chaddha,
From pronunciation to singing style and presentation, he was extremely involved. Story The whole film had to be wrapped up, and Amitabh (Bhattacharya) and Pritam had already done their bit to justify T in their writing and composition, so for me, it was a matter of trying my best to do nothing. The song will take off. The song needed to be as real as possible, almost like an inner voice, and this was my main challenge in singing the song: being fact-resolving and non-intentional about every word and line. It was a lot of fun and took a lot of time, but I am very happy that I got a chance to sing it and am very happy and proud of the way the song has finally turned out.
You will perform live at the NCPA as part of the ‘One World Many Music’ series; How would you rate live shows in comparison to e-shows which had become the new normal until recently?
live show Honestly, can never be replaced by anything else. We just did one virtual show in lockdown (in fact, we’ll be doing another one soon) and it was a lot more fun than we expected… it’s pretty much unbeatable to appreciate the little extra bits that happen on stage. As Coco always says, “Ask me to play on stage 365 days a year and I’m happy”. We are definitely looking forward to performing at the NCPA Tata Theater (October 8 at 7 PM). It’s an iconic venue and it’s our first time, so we’re changing up our set list a lot – we want to surprise everyone who comes to the show! There will be something for the classical music lovers, for the sit-down listeners, for the absolute rockers, for the music lovers… and of course, for everyone who loves our music. We can’t wait!
Agni has had a successful tour, what are your future plans – where do you want to take your band?
We are delighted to continue to offer music and performances around the world. We’ve been very fortunate to have people who will listen to every single one of our songs and hold us to very high standards with the songs we recorded as well as on stage, and we hope to for the next 15-20 years.
How would you rate the Indian independent music scene in comparison to the West? What do you think we did right and wrong and what needs to be done?
India is the only country where we refer to non-film music as “independent” music. Everywhere, independent music refers to music that is supported non-label. The primary reason is that the film music industry is the primary and largest platform for releasing music here, and it has been so for decades. We have excellent actors like Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and many other stalwarts who have sung for films but not made into a brand by any label.
As a music industry, we haven’t really invested in creating the next Michael Jackson or Beyoncé Or Coldplay, because we are better at making the next Shah Rukh (Khan) and Salman (Khan). While this may work for the film industry, it may not be the best move for the music industry. Movies are moving more and more from lip-sync songs, where an actor asks to assemble words, where the song plays in the background, it will only be a matter of time before the music industry will have to make its stars of film actors. No more piggy bank on fame and face. In fact, a clear indication of this is that now the most popular songs from movies are dance numbers, where the songs are definitely mouthed by the actors, and these are the only songs we get to see as big hits. are. We really need to invest in musical talent and make them a package and take the risk of making some artists big on their own.
What will happen next?
We have 25 songs coming out in the next few months, so we are really excited about it. We now have our own YouTube channel, and we are finally on all audio streaming platforms as well. We look forward to many more shows, we are already touring Kolkata, Bengaluru and Delhi in the coming month.
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