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News |  20 Jan 2017 17:15 |  By Mallika Deb

Classical Music is in my blood and music is a stress buster for me: Canvas Talent's CEO Anurag Rao

MUMBAI: Anurag Rao, the founder of Canvas Talent, also CEO, and Co-Founder of Farout Media has been around for two decades now in the music and live entertainment industry. Ever since 2006, Anurag has been representing artistes from different creative fields.

Anurag's recent endeavour embraces his significant support behind My Country My Music property. Radioandmusic.com got the opportunity to talk to Anurag Rao where he shared his initial days, music influences, the roots of the project and more.

‘My Country My Music’ is Shankar Mahadevan's brand new presentation of Indian folk music along with a rich musical heritage as Shankar has collaborated with artists who belong from different culturally rich parts of the country.

Talking about it Anurag Rao shared that he stepped into this project later on when he realised that the project is unique in its own way. ‘Shankar has this other side to him which is totally non-filmy and this project represents that side of him. The collaboration of folk along with Indian popular music is aimed to reach a wider audience’ said Anurag.

“There is no show in the country that can showcase Indian music in such a colourful way!" continued Anurag.

People who do not know, Anurag Rao is also a lead guitarist for Farhan Live and also looks into Artist development for 'Farhan Akhtar’ Ayushmann Khurrana, Shankar Mahadevan amongst others. Radioandmusic.com asked him how it all started and how he incorporates so many things all together. Replying, Rao said that music, only music is his passion.

“My father was a disciple of Ravi Shankar, an exceptional sitar virtuoso and an exponent of Hindustani Classical Music. Consequently, music was there in the family itself. I learned tabla at Tabla legend Ustad Alla Rakha Khan's school for five-six years. And, I suddenly took up a liking for the guitar. I started learning guitar from Sarosh Izedyar (Sarosh Izedyar who has played with Farhan Akhtar, Shankar Mahadevan, Shaan, Trilok Gurtu, L Subramaniam, Asha Bhosle and many others). In the early 90s, I started playing with Pythagoras and the Right Angles as a rhythm and lead guitarist, a rock band founded by Ram Sampath, Jaishankar and Sarosh followed by One Night Stand in 2001. I played many rock gigs in the 90’s and enjoyed travelling with the band. Music is a stress buster for me,” Rao put it in plain words.

Pythagoras never formally disbanded, but have never got together as a band since 2001.

Musically influenced by hard rock, a devotee of Pink Floyd and AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Led Zep Anurag also enjoys every bit of Bollywood music. Speaking about it, Anurag said, “Everything catches my ears. Starting from Arijit Singh, Armaan Malik, Amit Trivedi, Pritam, SEL to international top 40’s, Mirchi top 20, I listen the whole lot. Though I still believe, classical music is in my blood.”

Few know that before joining MTV, Anurag started his career at Groove, a music retail store.

“My job was to sell cassettes and CDs. Smooth jazz was a very in thing then. I started listening to a lot of classic and contemporary jazz and blues artists like Art Blakey, Billie Holiday, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, John Scofield to name a few. The fun part was you could rip open any CD and cassette without paying for it”. People used to come to me for my recommendations and it felt good to sell people records that made them come back time and again!”

“Kalyan Sundaram was the programming head of MTV that time, he reached out to me, and then MTV happened. I remember him having a cassette shop in Chembur, where I used to buy regional and film music from. He was a walking encyclopaedia on Hindi Film Music.”

Earlier Anurag has shared that he always believed in collaboration being key to many success stories. During his stint at MTV Anurag worked with many Bollywood artists and international artist like Joe Satriani, Baz Luhrmann, Dennis chambers, Ravi Coltrane, Pussy Cat Dolls, The Black Eyed Peas, Alanis Morissette, Leny Stern, Trilok Gurtu amongst others. Furthermore, talking about recent collaborations, Anurag is working on a project with British band Dinosaur Pileup and legendary writer/producer James Sanger.

On Bollywood taking the biggest share of the pie, Rao stated, “Bollywood is a different ballgame altogether and independent music is tough to market. But, the thing to remember is every big Bollywood singer today was once an emerging artist. However, the business is evolving and we are working with many new independent artists as well. We managed to synchronise two independent songs in Rock ON 2 from Tejas Menon and Pentagram, this is the first time a Bollywood movie had English music. Now, that’s a collaboration. There is a big room for innovation at the ideation stage and we have the ability to manoeuvre. It is the Artists and repertoire aspect of the business, which has a very special skill-set.