An interview with Raghu Dixit

An interview with Raghu Dixit

I've never actually heard of Raghu Dixit, so when the research began, it seemed he was quite a interesting person to interview, with some of the quotes flying around about him.. So having been given his UK number, I rang & caught up as he just finished his rehearhals for his UK Show at London's Southbank Centre.

First of all Raghu, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to speak to us. Trust us when we say it will BE WORTH IT!   It seemed my idea at breaking the ice over the phone worked ūüôā

Tell us a bit about yourself. Does music run in the family in any form?

Well I'm the first musician in the family, but my mum was really
into her South Indian classical music & knew quite a lot about it. But
that was about as far as it went

 How did you first enter the music industry?
Well like most South Indian's I was encouraged into Classical music
when I was a child, SO i was basically a Bharatnatyam classical dancer

Clearly, it wasn't something you had always wanted to do. Before
music took over your life, what were you studying?

Well to be honest I had no other aspirations then to be a dancer &
carry on with my studies.

 It's said that you were told as a bet to learn a rock song in two
months. What were the full terms of the bet? What would have happened
if you lost? How did this bet come about?

Basically one of my good friends was a guitarist and he was just taking the mick, saying that I look like a girl, and that REAL MEN play guitar & sing. So I said to myself right, I’ll show him & within months I learnt to play & sing a little. So it was not a bet as such in the standard thinking & there was no outcome to worry about as such.

 Your family had banned Western songs and Western clothes. What was
it about the West that they disliked? Have they relaxed their stance
towards the West since then?

 Well they have relaxed their attitude since.  It was just they wanted me to concentrate on my classical music & my studies.  If my dad was still alive he would be proud of me.

 How did you refine your talent once you moved to Bangalore from Mysore?
Well the thing was i had to move there to get myself a base Bangalore is similar to London in terms of music. But I don’t consider myself a guitarist,  just a singer who can play a few notes. 
Do you write lyrics to a song first or do you work on the music
before the words?
I used to write my own lyrics in my native language but in Hindi I have other people who write the lyrics for me, as it’s not really my strong point when it comes to writing in it.  I now prefer to compose the music to the poetry that I use as my lyrics, as I think it’s such a wonderful thing for youngsters to learn Poetry.

 Do you have any advice for hopefuls trying to break into the industry?
There is no single or guaranteed route to get a break into the industry. My main advice would be: Is be unique / singular in what you do.  You can’t follow someone’s style as you would just be a clone. The other thing is have lots of patience & believe in yourself, as there is no such thing as a overnight success.

Who or what inspires your music? Poetry? Classical literature?
Written by whom?

I’m more inspired by poetry from the South, but poetry overall.I do draw from my classical background to, when composing music for my songs.

How would you describe your music style?

LoL, well I don’t want to pigeon hole my music, so I would say its “Global music, which transcends culture”.

An interview with Raghu Dixit

Do you have a specific listenership in mind for your music or is
your style something more universal?
Well I don’t go out and aim for a particular type of audience. I just want to perform on the stage. I will always try my new material out in my live shows. That way you can tell from the response the audience give your new material. I do prefer to play at festivals and new audience who are not necessary fans or know my music, it’s a greater feeling

I've heard that the likes of Shahrukh Khan and Karan Johar have
listened and loved your music. What went through your mind when you
found out?
Well it feels good, when you hear about celbs that like your music, I’m not to sure how other to describe it, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank  people who helped me to get to this stage, who are Vishaal & Shekhar. I was playing at a bar in Mumbai, and they happened to be in the audience & they really like my music & they took me on and invested money into promoting me & launched their record label with me as their debut artiste. So I am forever grateful to them.

You have been involved in the Karnataka version of Sa Re Ga Ma.
Can you tell us how you found the experience?
Well it was actually the “lil Champs” show. It was good to see some good potential coming thru & kids with believe, while on the other hand there were some who had no talent, but were there because of parental pressure, but I would also say who am I to say who is good or bad?

 How difficult was it for you to judge the contestants?

It was difficult as the yare just kids, but in shows like this this you have to be unemotional & try to do your job as a judge, and not let your feelings interfere

Tell us about your time as a band-member of Antaragni?

Well I started the band in 1997 & dissolved it in 2005. It was good while it lasted.

What prompted your move away from the band?
It was hard to get people to see the same dream over a period of time. After I finished with the band I started to do concerts. So it kind of worked out ok in the end. 

Your sound is far removed from the more mainstream Bollywood
groove we usually hear. Do you think that Bollywood in general has to
experiment more with their music?

Well I’ve been lucky so far within the Bollywood market. They let me be me with my music, so it’s good, which like you said that there is no more POP music market now, as it’s just Bollywood now

The response internationally has been overwhelming. What do you
think it is about your music that appeals to the overseas crowd?

I’m not really sure what it is about my music, but I do truly believe London is the hub of International, Alternative, World music, whatever you wish to call it.  I mean put it this way this is my 10th if not more trip to perform in the UK over the last few years. Also there is a lot of hype about me, so I need to try & live up to the hype as a artiste / performer (laughs) & still remain grounded.

What are your goals and expectations of yourself?

Well I would say it’s to get a international album deal done for my 2nd album as soon ias it’s done, which is hopefully by the end of this year.

 Do you have any other concerts planned for the future? What other
projects do you have lined up?
Well as soon as i play the Royal festival hall, I fly straight to Mumbai to continue with a soundtrack score for a Bollywood movie. I also want to try & perform with as many different type of international acts as possible to help take my music further afield.For example I am performing with Bellow Heads (Who are the #1 English Folk Band in the UK) at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Alchemy season / festival.  And I am back in the UK over the summer for a series of shows up & down the UK

Lastley. What's your favourite philosophical quote that best sums up your music?

I would simply say it’s “Contemporary Indian Folk”, and let the public decide for themselves if that’s the best way to describe it or not. 
On this point we finished of the interview & I thanked Raghu for his time .
"What a huge voice Raghu has!" – Greg Parmley (IQ Magazine)

I really enjoyed seeing Raghu live and playing with the band. Raghu is full of charisma and positive energy, his anthemic songs have an Indian heartbeat with a rock and roll attitude that will have any audience on their feet. Justin Adams (support act—Jazz Cafe)
With a mind trained in microbiology and a body in Bharatanatyam, the last ten years have seen him achieve fame as a musician. Touring India and the world, he has played with Israel’s Dub LFO, England’s Too Late Lucy and renowned French musicians Anaïs, Emily Loizeau and Mademoiselle K, to name a few.

Questions By Simi Sehgal / Intro written & Interview conducted by Ex P2K Boss Tony Pabla