For Rushi Vakil, music has been a lifelong companion. His eclectic taste in music forms the global influences in his compositions, while his formal training in tabla under his Guru and father Pandit Divyang Vakil grounds his work with tradition, consistency and technical mastery. A self-taught keyboardist, who also plays a variety of other instruments, Rushi is featured as an artist and/or composer in several albums. As a music director, he has worked on short films, dance productions, commercials, documentaries, and animation movies. He also regularly tours internationally with renowned tabla ensemble Talavya and his own fusion band Taan.
On 19th September 2013, Rushi Vakil released his album ‘Click Kar’ – a Gujarati World Music Album. This unique album takes music beyond the popular garba music and features singers such Natalie Di Luccio, Javed Ali, Mirande Shah, Parth Oza, Aniket Khandekar, Shweta Subram, Taizu and RJ Dhvanit.
The Ahmedabad Blog got in touch with Rushi Vakil to discuss his new album and understand the Gujarati music scene in Ahmedabad. Here are the excerpts of this exclusive interview:
Tell us about your album – ‘Click Kar’
Click Kar features world music in Gujarati language. The album features 7 songs, sung by different Local, national and international singers. Each song features a different world music style, and represents it in a contemporary way through Gujarati Language. The musical genres featured are Opera, Jazz, Country, Sufi, trance, Soft Rock and Rap. The lyrics have been penned by Chintan Naik. The digital distribution of the album is done by Crescendo Music while physical CDs have been created and distributed by Universal Music group.
What’s the significance of the name ‘Click Kar’
When we see something interesting online, we always tend to click it to see what it consists of. This album carries a new drive, it’s a new experiment. The title ‘Click Kar’ suggests the fact that it is something very new, interesting and worth your time; it is something that you can “click” on to find out the new age Gujarati music. The title also suggests the contemporary and global approach of today’s young Gujarati generation.
Why did you choose to compose contemporary Gujarati music?
I had to create something new. Being a follower of world music it always troubled me why I did not hear its sounds and beats in my own language, Gujarati, and being a composer, I always strived to find an answer. The one I found was simple – I must create an album which compiles several world music genres and present them in Gujarati language, so that today’s youth can start paying more attention to Gujarati language and music.
What inspired you to get in foreign artists to sing in Gujarati? Was it difficult to make non –Gujarati singers sing in this language?
I wanted to remain as true to the chosen musical genre as possible. Like for Opera and musical style song, I wanted to use a singer who is trained in that particular style of singing. For some guitar pieces in my song “Rang Safa”, I wanted the international feel of the guitar. The song “Ghar Maru”, which is a trance number and features the theme of an NRI girl missing her roots, required someone with the accent and language of an NRI to sing it. And yes, it was a little difficult have Non-Gujarati and non-Indian people sing in Gujarati, but everyone was very hard working and extremely patient and gave their best until I was satisfied.
How was the experience of composing a Gujarati Opera? It’s never done before, where you sceptical of the audience’s response?
The Opera is one my favourite genres of all time, and I really wanted to use that singing technique into Gujarati language. I have been a follower of world music all my life and when I started working as a composer, I always focused on cross country collaborations. I have been doing that with some great musicians and orchestras for a long time, and composing this song, Prarthana was a similar effort in Gujarati language. The album also features songs like “five” and “Ghar Maru” which are composed in jazz and trance styles, which is also very rare in Gujarati language.
Sufi music is really popular these days and Javed Ali is one of the best Sufi singers. How did you go about convincing him to sing a Gujarati Sufi song?
Javed is a brilliant singer. I had approached him professionally, because I did not know him personally. I made him hear the scratch track which I wanted him to sing, and he loved it. The rest was a very easy process. This Sufi song is very unconventional. It’s a contemporary way to represent “Sufiana Mijaj” .
What is the future of Gujarati Music Industry?
Gujarati music industry is definitely going to grow more and more. Now days, many people from the younger generation like me, are entering the industry with creative ideas and approach. People are being more exposed to music styles and coming closer to the technology required to create them. I am sure that the future is bright
Do you believe that youngsters in urban cities like Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat are open to listening to Gujarati music now?
I am sure they are. Many people listen to French, Spanish or Middle Eastern music now. People’s ears are getting more global day by day and the language doesn’t become a barrier. If the music matches international standards, and the lyrics are convenient enough for the youngsters to follow, I am sure they would listen to Gujarati songs. And if they do once, slowly they will turn their ears towards the roots of Gujarati traditional music as well, which is very beautiful.
Your new song, “Kahe Tarsaye..” is in Hindi. Tell us more about it.
For me, as a composer, language is not a hurdle but a weapon. Kahe Tarsaye is the newest composition I have made. The song is sung by Bhavya Pandit (Indian Idol season4 finalist) and Kirat Antani (Rehmanishq contest winner). The composition is very special to me, as this is the style of music which I really enjoy creating.
Describe the current music scene in Ahmedabad
The current music scene in Ahmedabad is changing. As I said earlier, new faces and new people are bringing a lot of freshness in the music scene. Musicians are being technically sounder day by day and matching the international standards. Still, there is a long way to go. Young musicians must not be scared to try new things, at the same time they must remember where their roots are. It’s our duty to bring freshness into the existing music world, as well as it’s our duty to keep the traditional and classical music alive.
So what does an Amdavadi do if they are passionate about music?
They go out, explore as much of music as they can. Go online, check cool music videos, buy albums (and I mean buy, no free downloads unless it’s from an official source ) and spread it around. They should listen to as many different world music styles as possible, at the same time also to the Indian classical and traditional music. Now, there should not be any labels as Ahmedabadi or Gujarati or Indian. As a global art lover, I always believe that if you like a form of art, go to it with all you have, overlook all the barriers around you and do everything you can to understand it, digest it, spread it, live it. 🙂
The Ahmedabad Blog is thankful to Rushi Vakil for this wonderful interaction! We wish him all the success for his album!