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'For me, R&B is Raaga and Blues'

Rhythm and Blues singer Ash King will be in India for his album with AR Rahman. Abhishai Fernandez chats him up.
Hindustan Times | By Abishai Fernandez, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 24, 2007 03:55 PM IST

Here's the new king of R&B, Ash King, who'll be in India in August for his album with AR Rahman.. interviewed by Abishai Fernandez.

How did you get into music?
I was only knee-high then. My dad, Shankar Ganguly, is a semi classical and folk composer. I began singing months after I learnt to talk. I also learnt to play the dholki.

I was never an academic. College was not for me, I got involved with the ‘wrong' crowd and I decided to take the musical route to sort myself out. Then I teamed up with Terry Mardi and he has been my true academic guru.

But your music is not too influenced by Indian sounds?
I make music for the moment. I take all my influences from Indian classical to soul and make it work for the song I am making.

How did you join the Terry Mardi camp?
I was introduced to Mardi via a friend in the gym. We both clicked and decided to be each other's musical extensions. Wherever he goes, I am there and vice versa like two musical peas in a pod. At the same time, we both have different skills.We make a good team.

How do you define your brand of R&B?
For me, R&B is Raaga and Blues since I want to add an Indian touch to our music.

Have you played the dholki on your new album too?
Actually, Terry wanted to use the dholki on the album. Sometimes, we start the production with a dholki rhythm and then take it out later to get a different western spin on a track. I'm working on playing the dholki live.We've used dholki in our album.

What's your first memory of singing on stage?
I sang on stage to a western Black gospel audience. I used to go to ‘open mic nights' with mostly Black soul singers , who had big voices.

It was nerve-wracking to climb up on stage at first, but I did well. I grew up listening to great singers such as K-Ci and Jojo, Jodeci, Brian McKnight, R Kelly, Joe, Charlie Wilson, who have greatly influenced me.

Tell me about your debut album?
We want to keep the name a secret for now. Suggestions are welcome. The album is nearing completion. First, we'll finish the album, then name it. It's like having a baby. You have to see it first, or in this case, hear it. The album is quirky, fun and about looking at the brighter side of life.

How did your collaboration with R Kelly happen?
Terry produced the track with R Kelly and then I was asked to add a second verse in Hindi. They all liked it. The rest is history.

What was it like to debut with a seasoned professional?
It was exciting. When we got this opportunity, we were flat tered and grateful for it. Perhaps Kelly's fans will want to hear our music now! We want to work together again.

Your tracks

Take it easy


Sexy girl

are a chip off the Brit Asian music block

Terry Mardi and I want to break our sound (South Asian sound) into the mainstream. We make all sorts of music, not just Asian. We don't want to jump on the bandwagon and I'm not into this profession for a short term.

How has your music been accepted?
Myspace has opened many doors for us, and websites like have given artistes like me a huge platform. Such platforms allow music to do the talking.

How many tracks are there on your album?
Enough to make it value for money! We're even considering doing a double album - one in Hindi and one in English.

How did the musical score of Maine Pyar Kiya get on the track Sexy girl?
Terry loves Hindi film music and tries to use it as often as he can. We like to call it a Bollywood Calypso style song.

When are you performing in India?
Well, we are working with AR Rahman right now. So I expect to come to India soon.. may be next month. The exact schedule isn't finalised.

What's this project with AR Rahman?
I can't talk much the Rahman project right now.. it's too early. All I can say is that it's western and it's big.

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