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Ranjit Barot
When we enter musician Ranjit Barotís plush studio for our appointment, we find him on the phone, in the middle of what we gather is a rather boring interview. In our experience, an artist who has just endured a barrage of clichťd, oft-repeated questions is never in a good mood.
But Barot brushes off his annoyance. (ďLetís start. Iím pissed off, itíll make for good copy for you,Ē he laughs). Over steaming cups of coffee, he graciously spends the next half hour with us discussing music and everything thatís wrong (and right) about it.

The Record: We recently met with Shaan who was all praise for your method of working [on his album]Ö
Ranjit Barot: Shaan was wonderful to work with. Heís such a sweetheart, unassuming and easy to be with. Virgin, the record company, was also great I have to say. There was no interference from them creatively.

TR: Youíve been a part of the music industry for so long ~ what is your take on the scene in India?
RB: If youíre a musician and you want to make a living doing this, you have to understand your place in the business. You have to understand what you have to offer, you have to understand which music excites you, you have to understand why it is exciting, and why you feel any of this music resonating in you.
We go out there and expose ourselves to all kinds of music. There are some things that you connect with and you find a place in your own music for it. So I would imagine that record executives would get savvy and start asking these questions and have music experts on their panel. Itís like if I had some money now and I wanted to sell cars, I would have to have one person on my team who knew about cars because I donít. I mean I like cars, I like to drive them and I like how they look but if Iím going to sell them, I should have someone who really knows them [technologically].
Why donít record companies do that ~ have someone on their panel who is a musician? Not some A&R guy who will walk into my office and try and be this guy who is doing me a favour. That just kills everything right in the beginning.

TR: Do you meet such people often?
RB: I donít encourage them to come. I know this game. I donít want to get into situations that are nastyÖ I do jobs by maintaining a particular standard. People only come to me because they want me, not because Iím kicking their ass or because Iím going to work overnight because they had a deadline.
Of course I am a working musician, I have to feed my family, and I bite the bullet sometimes, we all do. I just donít encourage situations that will get nasty. The few times that it has Iíve made myself clear and the industry pretty much knows what to do with me.

TR: People are criticizing the Indian music scene as being too commercial now. What is your opinion on that?
RB: Iím not a purist ~ commodity is good in its own way, nothing wrong with that. But for me to use that to sell musicÖ I donít think so. Whoever started this trend is just so lazy, man! Youíre setting boundaries for people to basically not think outside this narrow box. I think music is just the most incredible thing we have in our lives. It is something so intangible and does so much for you and you are trying to make it a finite thing that you can label and look at like an object. It cannot be contained. Music is far too great to try and capture in one frame or one idiom.
I think itís possible to be commercially viable and intelligent. I donít think commerce equates to stupidity. [What is done often] is a lazy way of putting some naked women in a video and seeing if it will capture your imagination. You can say that Iím arty [and so I donít get it] but honestly Iíve not seen anyone walk away from such a video saying, ĎMan Iím going to buy that CD.í I have a conspiracy theory which I will share with you later.
Also, we are too celebrity driven. We donít care about unknown heroes, local people who are trying to make a difference, teaching music and just being good people. I am saying, ĎYou know what, talk about Will Smith, but also talk about other people.í There has to be a balance.

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


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