The Capital will soon witness a musical extravaganza, as UK-based music composer, Nitin Sawhney, will be performing live in India with his band for the first time next month. Having dabbled in music, films, videogames, dance and theatre, Sawhney will be touring India to promote his upcoming album, Last Days of Meaning.
"After performing across the world for over two decades, it feels reinvigorating to return to the land of my heritage. India is the most fertile ground for any artist that I can imagine. I'll be bringing some wonderful musicians with me and I hope the Indian audiences warm to them as much as people have across the rest of the world," he says.
So, when he takes to the stage, which song is his favourite while performing? "I'm particularly fond of Homelands because it incorporates many different forms of music from qawwali to flamenco, and from Brazilian samba to balearic strings. It is a piece of music coming from a universal language and feels like a kind of soundtrack to my own life," says 47-year-old Sawhney, whose album is inspired by what happened in UK's last general election. "The leaders of the political parties blamed immigrants for the economic problems, and I got fed up with this mentality. Rather than making an album that was specifically political and addressing it in a literal kind of way, I thought I would create a metaphor," he says. The album will release in India this February.A producer, songwriter, orchestral composer, multi-instrumentalist and cultural spokesperson, Sawhney has collaborated with, and written for many popular names, including Paul McCartney, Sting, Brian Eno, Shakira, Taio Cruz, Ellie Goulding, Cirque Du Soleil and Nelson Mandela. Are there any more collaborations in the pipeline? "I usually choose to collaborate with people whose work I admire or who have something to say with their music or art form. Having worked with Indian artists like AR Rahman and Anoushka Shankar in the past, I hope this visit to India exposes more possibilities to find inspiration from artists over there," he says. On working with Rahman, Sawhney adds: "I created a remix of 'Vande Mataram' for him which he seemed pleased with. He also spent time with me at my house many years ago. He is a very nice person and a great composer."
Sawhney has to his credit, scores for multiple Olivier-Award-winning productions such as Complicite's A Disappearing Number and Akram Khan's Zero Degrees. He even scored for Mira Nair's internationally acclaimed Namesake. Most recently, he has been working on the score for the film, Midnight's Children - an adaptation of the award-winning novel by Salman Rushdie, that's being directed by acclaimed filmmaker Deepa Mehta. The Canadian-Indian production is due for release in late 2012. "I'm still writing the score for Midnight's Children and I'm enjoying it immensely.
Deepa has a great recognition for the importance of using specific ragas to create the mood and to find the characterisation she's looking for with her protagonists. Also, this is one of my favourite works of literature by a truly brilliant author," says Sawhney. He is also currently writing, directing and producing Einstein Tagore - a theatre production based on conversations that took place between Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore in 1930 - which will debut in 2013. "We are still developing the production with the Barbican in London. But it'll be a very thought-provoking one with some wonderful and well-known actors in the cast," he says.
Spinning everything from Afro-beat and Dubstep to Asian breakbeat and drum 'n' bass, Sawhney is also a DJ. He started out in the 90's when he was signed to Outcaste Records. "I feel equally excited DJ'ing as I do composing orchestrally for film or television or even writing my own albums…It's all about creating a flow, as with any narrative in any artistic expression," he says.
When not making music, Sawhney's varied interests and hobbies keep him occupied. "I like kickboxing. I also like playing chess. I'm doing a triathlon this year. I love running, cycling and swimming; I'm enjoying that at the moment. I'm also into cinema and films and I love watching theatre and dance. All the things I write for, interest me a lot. I love reading about theoretical physics. And I'm quite interested in ancient Hindu philosophy. At the moment I'm quite into and trying to read a lot about electronics and how stuff works," he concludes. Sawhney's gig in Delhi is at Blue Frog on Febuary 3.
Catch him here
What: Live performance by Nitin Sawhney
When: February 3
Timing: 10pm onwards
Entry: Rs 2,000 per person
Where: Blue Frog, The Kila, Seven Style Mile, Mehrauli, New Delhi Nearest metro station: Qutab Minar on the Yellow line