What made you take up composition for the album?
(Chuckles) I was always hesitant about composing. It had never even come to my mind, but Shankarji (Mahedvan) told me that if I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my album, no other composer would know either. On his insistence, I went about it, but I’d take his feedback on every song, before performances, during recordings, at his studio, anywhere I’d get the chance. He’s been my mentor for this album.
Shankar Mahadevan has also composed two songs for your album.
(Smiles) I’ve been performing with Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy since a very long time. I share a special equation with Shankarji… In fact, he suggested that I should take out an original album. He explained to me the entire process, and told me not to go by commercial norms and stick to my sensibilities. If he didn’t have faith in me, I don’t think I’d have been able to take out this album.
Why did you decide to come out with an album at a time when no one is buying CDs?
You know, the time when albums sold lacs of copies is never going to come back because of internet downloads. So, it was just about taking the plunge. I wanted a platform to showcase my complete range of singing. Melodious songs always have a longer shelf life, so I wanted to put out songs that will last. I have faith in my album, I don’t think there’s ever a bad time to release a good album.
Were you able to pull off the album smoothly, considering very few music companies release Indipop albums?
When I decided to make this album, I got the cheesiest of suggestions from people. Music companies would say, ‘It should be commercial’. They all wanted a vulgar video and songs in the ‘Kaanta laga’ space. But that’s not what I am. So it took some time, but I didn’t compromise on the content. Shankarji (Mahadevan) supported me throughout the album and I don’t think I’d have been able to release it otherwise.
Your album has a wide range of songs. Why didn’t you decide to stick to any particular genre for it?
Because, 50 years from now, when I’m done singing, I’d love to be remembered as the person who sang everything and wasn’t slotted into someone who sang only melodious songs, or item songs. I want to be a singer who sings ‘bhajans’ and at the same time, sings sensuous songs. My music upbringing has been a mix of Parveena Sultana songs, as well as Nat King Cole’s songs! So I’ve got semi-classical song, a new age electro-pop number, a ‘desi’ dance number, a couple of pure love songs and even a tribute to Noor Jahan in the album.
But you are one of the only singers in Bollywood today who has a conventional ‘thin’ Bollywood voice. Didn’t you want to capitalize on that?
No one notices that! Today, there are very few female-oriented songs left and female singers get to sing only one or two songs. I don’t have a ‘different’ voice, like that of those ruling the roost, and I know I may not be getting too much work because of that, but I’m not sad about it. I have faith that my songs would last, and I’m hoping my album opens new avenues.Bollywood, of course, will still be my mainstay, and I’m singing in the remake of Stepmom, It’s My Life, Pappu Can’t Dance Saala, Flat, etc, in the meanwhile.
You’ve recorded a ‘bonus’ track for the album. Why doesn’t it feature in it?
We didn’t want to crowd the album. I’ve recorded a ‘live’ rock-ish number, and my music label, Sony, felt it’s a great idea to bring it out in a different way because none of the music channels play non-film music.So, we are releasing it on Planet Radiocity for free, for 48 hours from April 6. After that, it would be available for paid download, just like the rest of the album.