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Pankaj Awasthi
You may know Pankaj Awasthi as the soulful voice from the song Tera Hi Karam featured in the 2005 Bollywood action flick Karam. 2006 sees the release of his commendable debut album Nine, which contains, you guessed it, 9 songs which he sang, wrote, composed, arranged and produced!
Here Awasthi talks to The Record about working in the various aspects of music, travelling around Europe with maestro Talvin Singh, the challenges of a self-produced debut, and the chaos that is Mumbai.

The Record: Congratulations, the album has been getting great reviews. How long was Nine in the making?
Pankaj Awasthi: Thank you. This album was ready to be out in 2003 but it didnít come out for a few reasons. I was signed on a major label here in Bombay but something happened and it didnít work out. I was bound by a contract also so I couldnít go anywhere else. But now that contract is over and the album is out.

I worked on it from 1999 to 2003. I was not that busy at the time with commercial work, so in that time I was making music for myself. By 2003 I had about 15-odd songs. From that I chose 9 to be on the album.

TR: Your press release emphasises the laid-back nature of the album. Did you specifically want just that sound?
PA: I didnít really go for that. What happened is, as I was working on the album, it looked like it was not a very loud or fast-paced sound. It was very personal Ė what you would listen to when you get back home from work. Itís not club music, not even necessarily very social music. I imagine it is more for when you are at home or driving or times like that.

TR: Tell us a little about your musical background.
PA: I grew up listening to a lot of rock music. Pink Floyd, if I had to pick just one name, is I think the greatest band. That has influenced me a lot. I really got into music because of them, especially Roger Waters. After that, there were lots of musicians, like Weather Report, Santana, Doors, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and of course, Indian classical music.

I started off sequencing music with a computer and synthesiser. I was doing that and then going to few studios, learning about production and mixing. Thatís how I started off. Then my interest grew and thatís how I learned and slowly built up my own studio. By 1999 I had a set-up where I could record and mix and produce music. So now I write my own songs, record them, compose and arrange them myself. So that is something not everyone might be doing. I like to do original music. I am not inclined towards remixes orÖ I always look for something fresh.

TR: Did you have to deal with a boring day job like some other musicians?
PA: I never did anything else besides music. I studied dentistry but in college I knew I was not going to be a professional in that. So as soon as I finished college I was making music and pursuing that, composing music for jingles, for TV serials, Iíve scored music for documentaries in Delhi, I played live whenever I got a chance. I was doing all that and helping senior musicians as well and learning. So I didnít really have another job.

You can read the rest of our feature on Pankaj Awasthi in the March 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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