“If music be the food of love, play on…” This phrase, although originating from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, is sure to hold a lot of meaning to those who are musically inclined. Music can symbolise different things for different people; it can be an essential escape from reality, it can be a great stress reliever but, most of all, it can be seen as a sanctuary for those who create music for the masses. Music releases a passion for many that simply cannot be fulfilled or matched by anything else. For me, music is something I can’t live without. Whether it’s because lyrics might touch my heart, beats might make me want to dance or because songs might provide a shared sense of belonging between people, music is indeed an inspiration in every form.
To signify and share my infatuation with music, I presented some questions to individuals who are involved with music in their everyday lives. You will be familiar with many of the forthcoming names and others you may be unaware of but I promise, whatever the case, these stars are sure to invigorate you with their exclusive revelations…
Music is my dream, I don’t look at music as just an artist but also how I can progress on a business level, as it is an industry which is forever developing. Music for me is everything. Almost every spare minute is spent on music, whether it’s songwriting, singing or managing. For me, its my mental and emotional escapism, I can express what I feel in any way that I want. Without music there is no me.
To me dancing is a way of life and also a great form of expression. I now see music as a way of expressing the good times and also the bad times. It is great relief for pain and also there to celebrate good times. My perception of music is very different to before, especially when delivering those difficult messages! 🙂
♫ Kajal, Radio presenter at Kismat Radio, reveals the songs she would choose to represent the kind of person she is:
There are so many songs that I could relate my life to but to choose a song that represents the kind of person I am would be very difficult. Although My nickname is Munni, I can’t say that I’m like the character Munni in Dabbang but after great thought I know one song that many people agree represents myself and that is ‘Yeh Ishq Hai’ from the film Jab We Met. The song is based on a happy-go-lucky girl who questions her emotions after falling in love and at the same time keeps her promise to her other half regardless of what obstacles might come in the way. She is ready to face challenges and accept everything that comes in front of her. She breaks the rules but enjoys every moment. I guess I’ve just told you the kind of person I am!
As a performer, I have to follow the vision of the director and artist behind the song. There is always an emotional attachment when a song is pictured on you but normally there is a basis and structure to the storyline. I only have strong opinion on my own performance and give all of the creative control to the people I agreed to work with. However, where I feel I can help and make the result that much better, I shall offer my advice. I have learnt a lot while directing a feature film, acting in two features and the various shoots I have been a part of. Although, having said that, I do believe the visual changes the effect a song can have. In the history of Bollywood for example, half of the songs have done well because of star power which is really down to human psyche. Audiences tend to like a song because of its video but that doesn’t mean an effective video can save a song which is bad. Haven’t you seen Love Story 2050? 😉
♫ Nina Ismail, Radio presenter at All FM – For you personally, what are the most important elements of any given song?
For me, a song has to have meaningful and touching lyrics – the deeper the better. I feel that way I’m able to relate more to the song and the words may remind me of a certain situation I’ve been through or may in fact be going through at that time. The lyrics also may remind me of someone or something.
Obviously, amazing vocals always appeal to me and especially when the song has been sung with a lot of emotion. For example, Navin Kundra, Jay Sean, George Michael & Darren Hayes are some of my favourite singers because they sing with everything they’ve got and are note perfect but they also sing with such emotion. I find that I can feel that emotion and almost put myself in the song’s scenario.
It would have to be Kailash Kher. He is one of India’s most unique and diverse singers, an artist who is simple, loveable and so down to earth. His musical passion has no bounds, making it difficult to categorise him as a singer of a certain type. An amalgamation of folk, rock, soul and Sufi is what makes him truly versatile. ‘Teri Deewani’ is my all-time favourite song of Kher’s. However, the epic industry of Hindi Cinema has challenged him and with his most popular song ‘Allah Ke Bande’ placed him into the playback singing scene. Whether his music is from films or not, it is a language that comes from the heart and it touches the feelings of one’s inner expression. Kher is a singer that is different with a very likeable and heart touching voice.
♫ Dylan Lall, DJ and Entrepreneur – Being a DJ, you must come across crowds with differing musical tastes. Do you prefer a particular genre of music… and why?
Many people listen only a single genre of music, however, I’m not the one genre type of man. I love and listen to all genres of music. I love different types of compositions and different styles of music. This may have come about due to my upbringing because as a child I travelled a lot around the world and I was introduced to many different sounds through the different types of people I came in contact with. I listen to everything from Latin Jazz to Dub Step, from Kishore Kumar to Drake and from Frank Sinatra to Dedmaus. Throughout any given day, I will listen to about three or four genres of music, depending on my mood. My varied musical tastes help me to interact and connect with many different types of people of all ages and from all walks of life. I believe that a good DJ is one who knows what each individual wants to hear, who understands the song that a person wants to hear and doesn’t just play it for the sake of it.
There is a growing Asian Urban scene in the UK. As with all genres you have some great artists, some average and a few who should probably put the mic down and never pick it back up again! In my opinion the fusion does work when done properly, however it has been a little overdone and also there’s a pressure for these artists to represent their “Asianness” in their music. There’s a strange paradox going on with Asian Urban artists – commercial radio stations expect them to have an Asian influence to their music because they are brown, but if they do so, it makes them niche and either they won’t get played or it will be considered a fad/throw away music. If the artist makes straight Hip Hop, the Asian radio stations won’t play them! They can’t win! The only successful exception to this is Jay Sean, and I truly think an ambiguous name as well as years and years of really hard work have helped him. I wonder what would happen if he decided to make an Asian sounding track now though…
Asian Urban artists will always find it difficult to break out into the mainstream if they are defined by the Asian rather than the urban. So while I think the fusion works in some tracks, I think overall it can hinder the artist.
♫ Shak Siyya, Radio Presenter at XFM and Film Writer at Vie Asiatique – What kind of music inspires you and why?
Although my tastes have changed a lot over the last few years, music has inspired me and been a huge part of my life since I went to secondary school. I first fell in love with rock bands like Oasis and The Verve, who inspired me to pick up a guitar for the first time and learn to play. This actually resulted in me being in a band for three years, writing and playing our own music at gigs all over London. Being an Asian living in the UK, I’ve often felt that I’ve got the best of both worlds. Bollywood music has always inspired me to learn my mother tongue better (Urdu / Hindi / Punjabi) as well as bringing me much closer and even rediscovering my Asian roots. And above all, music has inspired me to be what I am now – a radio presenter. I obviously couldn’t do my job without it! I think, like most teenagers, I was always quite snobby about music – it had to have a guitar in it to inspire me and I hated pop music because it wasn’t ‘real’. But now I don’t worry about what it sounds like – good music is just simply good music and that’s the ‘genre’ that I enjoy most nowadays! However my life and career work out, hopefully music will always be a big part of both.
My biggest inspiration overall in terms of pure creativity has to be Ryan Leslie. He is a singer, songwriter, producer (like myself) and is able to play any instrument. Musically, my style has probably been most influenced by the likes of Donell Jones, Craig David and Jack Johnson. I also love artists such as Usher, Musiq Soulchild and Joe.
I always find inspiration in talking about a common denominator with anyone and music will always be that. I would like to convey a heartfelt thanks to each of the lovely personalities who took the time to talk to me and answer my questions. I hope this journey about music has given food for thought to the readers who will go on to share with me what part music plays in their respective lives.