Rozana meri toh hai daastan nayi
Purze puraane hain par shaukh hain kayi
Taaron ki roshni ne dikhaya raasta
Par main mukar gaya tu saath hai jo yehi
Tu ne kaha, maine sunn liya
Tu ne kaha, maine sunn liya
From a song called Tune Kaha, Prateek Kuhad’s latest single released last month, these lines offer a sneak peek into the man’s mind and heart. For those of you who do not know Kuhad already, he is a Delhi-based singer-songwriter, who has created a distinct, unmistakable space for himself in the independent Indie folk-pop scene in India and abroad in the last few years.
His songs have a quality that is difficult to define, for they explore the abstract. His melodies linger for longer than you’d hope and they come back to you when you least expect it. We try to get him to talk, which is no easy feat, for he is not a man of many words. Excerpts from an interview:
Was being a musician always the plan?
Not really. I was always into music but didn’t really think I’d ever actually be a full time musician until the beginning of 2013, when I returned to India after studying math at the New York University.
Along with singing, you also write and compose your songs. What do you enjoy doing the most?
Songwriting is definitely my first love.
All your songs have this personal feel about them. With minimal adornments, they are easy to sing and relate to. So much so that it has become your genre of sorts. Also the venues of your gigs are typically intimate set-ups. Is it a conscious effort?
Well it sort of is conscious. At some point I realised that the way that my songs are, they are best appreciated when listened to in that sort of a setup. That’s when we started to consciously try and create that kind of ambience for my audience at every show. It’s not always possible, but we try.
You write both in English and Hindi. Is there any difference while singing/composing in a particular language? How do you decide?
For me, songs are songs. It doesn’t have to do anything with language. Songwriting for me is an emotional outlet of sorts, it doesn’t matter what language it is in.
Of all your songs, which one is your favourite? Why?
I don’t know I would call them ‘favourites’ but there are some songs that mean more to me than others. Flames is possibly one of the songs that is closest to my heart.
From Jaipur (his home town) to performances across the world, how has the journey been so far?
Pretty slow and steady, actually. Although sometimes when I look back, it feels really amazing that I am here, doing what I do.
What kind of music do you listen to? Any favourites?
All kinds. Indie folk, pop, some indie-electronica and even quite a bit of hip-hop. There are so many favourites but the first few names that come to mind are — Kendrick Lamar, Hozier, Tom Odell.