How was the experience of the South by South West Rock Festival in Texas?
(Grins) It was the maddest festival I’ve been to. There were 1800 bands and I was the only one invited from India, which was pretty strange.. but also, pretty cool! My album wasn’t even out when I had applied for it. They just liked my myspace page www.myspace.com/ashulive.
How was the audience response?
Great! (Laughs) They were surprised to hear my rock-psychedelic sound.. because they expect an artiste from India to play only bhangra.. but they loved it anyway. Can you believe it.. there were people who had come from Dallas shouting for my song Fix me! (Grins) I was awed! That’s how far the song had spread through the internet.
How different was it from your gig at Amsterdam last year?
Amsterdam was a little more organised and the venue was fantastic. (Laughs)This was a very raw, guerilla thing.. we didn’t have stage monitors and we had 15 minutes to set up the stage! It was absolute chaos but so much fun.
Last year, you performed on stage for the first time after 15 years. And now, you are unstoppable.. (Chuckles) I just got such a kick out of it! I was always busy in the studio and because we had Blue Frog, I thought I must perform once. And now, I’ve been caught by the bug.. I can’t stay off stage.
With so many gigs, hasn’t composing for movies taken a backseat? Ashu-Dhruv composed for every independent movie few years ago.. and now, when there are more movies, there is less of you.
(Laughs) Yeah, there weren’t many guys at that time and we were the flavour. Also, we were young and ready to work on small budgets.. but now, I think we’ve become unaffordable for some. I’m still keen on doing films.. I’m waiting for one which I’d like to compose for.
Will you and Dhruv do movies separately now?
We’ve been working together for the last 15 years.. it’s like being married! (Laughs) I see Dhruv more than anybody else. After so many years, we were anyway composing individually. He’d do a movie and I’d comment on it at the end and vice versa. But when he did Drona, he had worked on it completely so he deserved credit on that. I too went solo after that.. I’ve just finished work on 99.
How do you keep your music separate since Dhruv plays for your band, Ashu, while both of you play for the band, Smoke?
(Laughs out loud) Yeah, it’s confusing! Ashu is the personal stuff I write. Dhruv plays for Ashu.. but it’s different because he’s playing my music. At the same time, I like what he brings to my music since he has his jazz influences. Smoke is the stuff we write together which is fun too. At the end of the day, we are partners and buddies so it can’t be too separate.
Blue Frog was recently called one of the top 10 venues for music in the world, by an international magazine. Where do you take it from here?
(Grins) That was such a surprise! It’s because musicians have started talking about it. Richard Bona and Bob James called it the best venue they’ve played at.. probably because we spent a bomb on stuff you will hear but not see.. like the acoustic design.
The next step is more Frogs. I had started Blue Frog with the intention of bringing structure to a disorganised industry. I wanted it to create a platform for the newer artists. The idea is to get a network of music-playing venues across the country and create a touring circuit so we can have musicians from the non-film genre go on a Blue Frog tour.
The first year had 154 different acts and if all goes well, soon enough we’ll get what we want: Music = Blue Frog.
What next personally? When is your operatic rock album, releasing?
18 songs of the album are ready since years! But the stage version is a very ambitious project and I’ll rather wait to get the right team together than hurry it.
(Laughs) It’s like setting up another Blue Frog. Meanwhile, I’ve judged at the show, Launchpad. I’m now working on a movie script. I’ve been wanting to compose for a good movie.. so I might as well make one!