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'Traveller documentsS my life experiences’

From working on her latest album to being a mother, the sitar player tells us how her world has evolved. By Ameta Bal

india Updated: Feb 14, 2012 11:29 IST

Your album Traveller explores the commonalities and differences between Spanish flamenco and Indian classical music. Tell us more about it.

There is both a musical and historical connection between the two styles. I was aware of the historical connection, the theory being that gypsies travelled from Rajasthan to the West, and I was interested in exploring what musical connections there might be as a result of this journey. Having now worked with both styles, I was excited to learn quite how many musical similarities there were! One example is our approach to rhythm; we both approach it cyclically rather than in a linear fashion, as is more common in Western music.

This album comes four years after your last one. Have you been working on it all this while or did you take a break?
I took a break from recording but continued to perform quite extensively. I felt I wanted to grow and mature as a person and as a musician before making another album. Also, I allowed my personal life to take the centrestage for once and took a break to enjoy some big changes. I am now a wife and mother and in a completely different place, and this album has been a fantastic way for me to document these changes.

How did you meet your husband (filmmaker Joe Wright, the director of Pride and Prejudice and Atonement)? Is there a story there?
We met two years ago in India through a friend, author William Darlrymple. Joe was researching a film here and it happened to be his last night before returning, so we could easily have missed meeting. A couple of weeks later, we met again in L.A. and things went quite quickly from there! Within three months, we were together and another three months later, I had moved in with him in London.

How is marriage to a filmmaker?
Both of us are in professions that can at times be all-consuming, and the fact that we both understand this and care about the process helps us to be supportive to each other.

Has having baby boy Zubin affected your creativity in any way?
Having Zubin has affected my creativity in a very positive way; it certainly added a new dimension to my latest album, which I recorded while pregnant. I feel like this life experience has made my music more expressive and, in an almost unexplainable way, I feel more creatively free than before.

In what ways do you think you have changed in the past few years?
The most profound changes are the most difficult to explain. Perhaps I just feel more self-aware and comfortable in my own skin as a woman. Also, previously I would be there every step of the way, but with Traveller, we recorded the album across different continents and, with my being pregnant, I was unable to physically be there all the time. I learnt to relax and trust other people to take care of production details.

If you didn’t play the sitar, what do you think you would have done?
I’ve always loved the piano; I can play a little but would love to be better. I also love to write, so perhaps I would have been an author.
Describe your personal style...
Relaxed, simple and stylish.

What is your wardrobe staple?
A really sexy pair of boots that can go with casual clothes or semi-formal evening wear. As someone who travels often, I really cherish items that can double in this way!

What is the one most favourite thing in your wardrobe?
The most beautiful thing I’ve ever worn is the lehenga by Ritu Kumar that I wore on my wedding day. She is one of my favourite Indian designers.

First Published: Feb 14, 2012 11:26 IST