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Interviews |  02 Jun 2015 20:15 |  By RnMTeam

Arijit Singh: Music has become very corporate now

Despite being at one of the most successful singers in the country, Arijit Singh is someone who shies away from the limelight. Concerts for him are like house parties, his favourite holiday destination is his home, and he chooses to spend his leisure time with his wife. In a tete a tete with Radioandmusic.com’s Dhairya Ingle, Singh, who is exclusively managed by TM Talent Management, talks about his childhood, his desire to collaborate with Norah Jones and a lot more.

You come from a family where music runs in your blood. What was your childhood like?

I became interested in music because of my mother, and I learned to play the tabla when I was pretty young. I had three gurus; one taught me Rabindra Sangeet, the other taught me to play instruments and the third one worked on vocals. I would perform at a lot of local clubs, but my parents never forced me to learn music. My childhood was very normal as I come from a small place called Jiaganj in West Bengal.

What are the instruments that you play?

I can play tabla, guitar and piano. I cannot play guitar and piano that well but I know when I play I will not make mistakes. For guitar, I am yet to catch up with Adi, the guitarist in my band. He is just awesome.

How do you manage to keep a low profile, despite the fame you have?

You see I come from a village, and to me this is something that I am not used to. I am a very simple man and I am not very comfortable with the limelight. I cannot really give interviews because showing my face everywhere is not me. I am happy with the kind of work I do. 

In an age where auto tuners dominate the studios, what is the importance of riyaaz for you?

I think riyaaz is very important and I agree that singers do use auto tuners, but you need to understand that singers are under a lot of pressure. Music has become very corporate. Since the 1980s, we have been using technologies in the studio. At that time, singers and musicians had three or four months to rehearse songs. After you practice for months, there is no room to go wrong. Now, however, with so many films being released in a year, there is very little time to rehearse a song. The maximum you get is seven days, and in that you need to understand the script, the emotions, the needs of the directors and producers. Being a dubbing artist for Pritamda, I am well versed with the plight of singers and it is very difficult to sing a new song behind the mic. Auto tuners are used for singers whose voices have beautiful textures but face a pitch problem, and for that reason, I love auto tuners. It is a small software that helps singers sound better. But there are those singers like Papon and Benny Dayal, who have perfect pitches, and this is evident from their live performances.

Will you judge a reality show?

I would not want to judge anyone or be a mentor for upcoming singers. I am not that great a singer to judge anyone and we have a lot of seniors in the industry to take up the role of a mentor. I would wish to help singers become better. Reality shows will happen only if the format inspires me.

If you were given a chance to collaborate with an international artiste of your choice, who would it be and why?

I would love to collaborate with Norah Jones because I love her music. I do not know when it will happen. I wish that happens soon.

Arijit Singh to direct a film, how true is this?

Oh yes very true. I would not exactly say that I am the only one to have done that as a lot of people have helped me. Currently it is under mastering process.

According to recent reports, you are also working on a single, when will we hear that?

Yes I am coming up with a single. I have composed and written lyrics for the same, but I have really not had enough of time to sit and work on it. I could release the single in the next few months, but again I cannot promise anything.

You are a big supporter of social issues. Which causes do you endorse the most?

I try and help people in whichever way I can. I owned an NGO long time ago which is now turned into something which helps the people in whichever way they can. For example we collected a lot of things for victims of the Nepal earthquake. The biggest problem is that we are not ready for anything bad that happens, be it during disasters or helping people post one. For example the first earthquake in Nepal happened on 25 April and it took me a while to collect something as basic as matchboxes, candles and so on. People basically are not ready to help others. I firmly feel that we over here need a lot of awareness when it comes to population and at times I even feel bad for the Government.

You also are a documentary film maker. What kinds of documentaries do you watch and would like to make?

I watch a lot of documentaries. I have made one which we will release soon and send it at a lot of film festivals. I would like to make a documentary on the people who are below the poverty line of India’s economy.

Any memorable incidents with a fan that you remember?

There was this one time that I had gone to Australia for a concert and a radio station conducted a singing competition, where the winner would get an autograph and a click with me. There was this girl who won it, and as soon as she met me, she was sobbing. I tried to console her, and when she finally stopped, I asked her why she was crying. What she told me is something I can never forget. She said to me, “You sound like my father who passed away a few months ago. Whenever you sing I think it is my father who is singing. I was devastated when he passed away and was almost on the verge of killing myself but ‘Tum Hi Ho’ saved me.” This actually got me goose bumps.

How is it performing live on stage with so many people shouting out your name?

For me, a concert is like a house party wherein you invite your friends and sing your hearts out and the people around join you. When I am on stage I make sure to communicate with the audiences. 

Do you follow any sport? Tell us who is your favourite player?

I follow cricket, football and badminton. I like Sachin Tendulkar, Lance Klusener and Jonty Rhodes. I also like Lionel Messi, and although I hate Germany, I love Thomas Muller. I was heartbroken when Germany defeated Brazil (7-1) during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I also like Argentina as a team. In badminton I am an ardent fan of Saina Nehwal. What a player.

What is on your playlist?

I listen to a lot of retro songs by Lata didi, Rafi sahib. I also listen to ghazals and semi classical tracks. I also listen to a lot of music by Coldplay.

If you had to go back in time and sing a song by a legendary singer, which would it be?

I think none. Songs by the legends sound way better in their voices than what I would sing.