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Interviews |  16 Feb 2015 21:16 |  By JesciliaKarayamparambil

Grammy winning duo Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman aim to release new material by 2017

MUMBAI: New Age music is a genre that is intended to relax and bring in optimism, and this genre has won Bangalore-based Ricky Kej a shiny Grammy. However Kej has no plans to stick with creating only New Age Music; instead he wants to create any kind of music that inspires him.

33-year old Kej is back in Bangalore after his big win, and is busy talking to media, and considering the many options and offers available to him at the moment.

This is not the first time he has been recognised for his work. He won a ‘One Show’ award for Advertising Excellence and was a finalist for the Cannes Advertising Award for his Nike Jingle. Other projects by him include Kamasutra Lounge 1&2 (USA), Fiery Drums (Virgin EMI), and Mesmerising Flute (Virgin EMI). He has also featured in over 100 compilations.


Are you enjoying all the attention you have been getting after the Grammys?

It opens a lot of doors obviously, for a musician. For instance, I do not do commercial music or film music, so the attention after Grammys will encourage me to continue doing what I am doing. That is very important.

I have chosen the part of doing mature music and the recognition from the Grammys has just validated it. The media attention has assured me that I should continue doing what I am doing.  

You have been nominated and awarded for many projects in the ad space. Do you think it took a while before you got one in Music?

I am 33 right now and a Grammy looked like an unattainable dream, but I have achieved it. It is the biggest music award and I feel fortunate to have been given that honour. It came in pretty early and it is amazing. I do not know what my next goal is, as getting a Grammy is suppose to be an end goal in a music career. The biggest music award you can possible get.

How did you meet Wouter Kellerman and for how long were you working on the project?

We met three years ago and it took us two years to complete the album. We had mutual admiration for each other’s music. We started with two compositions-one he created for Nelson Mandela and the other piece was about Mahatma Gandhi, which I had created. Basically, during the conversation we thought that we should work on each other’s track. I sent him my Gandhi track and he sent me his Mandela track and we worked on it. That way, we had a cross pollination of thoughts. During that process, we worked on a whole lot of new music and we travelled around the world recording musicians we admired and musicians we wanted to work with. In two years, we completed the project.

Will the two of you work on any projects in the future?

We had a very good working relationship. It is pretty shocking that two people who are collaborating on an album, are creatively involved in every process and are financially involved, as we commercialised the album, have not fought even once. It is pretty incredible and we were number one on Billboard and World Radio Charts. To top it all we won a Grammy. We are constantly in touch. We speak or Skype every day. We are discussing new ideas and share new pieces of music. We aim to release new material by 2017.

Which artistes surprised you, after they congratulated you?

I got lot of tweets which were pretty encouraging. But there is one incident that surprised me and that was related to Hans Zimmer. I am a huge fan of Hans Zimmer and he was the first one to congratulate me after we won. This happened backstage after the award was given and I clicked a picture with him.

Then A.R. Rahman, Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Vishal Dadlani congratulated. It was a pretty big high to be on.

Have you been getting lot of offers?

A lot of people have been contacting me to collaborate and to remix their music. I am slowing down right now and not jumping on the band-wagon. I am trying not to do things too quickly. I do not want to do anything that I will regret.

But at the same time, there are some projects that I would like to take up.

Which musicians have you always wanted to work with?

The top musician in the list was Peter Gabriel. I have been idolising him since I was 12 or 13 years old and I managed to work with him in November to produce an album called ‘2 Unite All’ and Gabriel was featured on it. Right now, my dream collaborator would be someone completely different from my genre. I would love to work with Pharrell Williams as he is an all-rounder when it comes to music genres. It would be amazing to see him work.

What is your take on dance music as a genre and its growing popularity in India?

I love listening to Electronic Dance Music, and enjoy making dance music. For instance, I used this genre of music for many jingles and also my album ‘Fiery Drums’ is based on dance music. It is great genre of music. The advantage of this music is that it does not cost much. Anyone who is super talented can make an EDM track.

Do you enjoy making tracks with or without vocals?

I believe that non-vocal tracks can convey a lot more than a track with lyrics or vocals. When you remove vocals from a track, sometimes the track conveys much more. Especially while working on ‘Winds of Samsara’ with Wouter I realised it. The tracks in which he has played the flute, convey so much more than vocals. There are times that lyrics can spoil a track.

Do you plan to work on any project with your wife (Varsha Kej)?

If an idea comes up then we will surely work together. But I will not start off a project thinking that both of us should collaborate. Then, it would be more like a forced fit. I would like it to happen organically.

Do you regret any musical projects you did in the past?

There are tonnes of such projects that I have done and I am not proud about them. I believe many musicians or people in various professions do such things. It may be done for money or for a regular client or for a friend; you are in a circumstance that you cannot say no.

Will you take up any film projects in the future?

I would like to take up a film or music project, but it depends on the creative freedom given to me and my work. You need to connect with the subject of the film. I do not connect with romantic comedy, so I probably will not be able to create music for any comedy films.