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Reality can be stranger than fiction: Vinay Kaushal

Musician Vinay Kaushal talks about his new album, how he funded it, and his experiences while recording it

music Updated: Jan 20, 2018 18:34 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Vinay Kaushal,Music,Pune
Musician Vinay Kaushal talks about his new album, how he funded it, and his experiences while recording it

A music educator, composer and guitar player, Vinay Kaushal’s versatility reflects through his music, which spans various genres such as blues, funk, jazz, rock and fusion. A Musician’s Institute, Hollywood (GIT) alumnus, Kaushal’s music carries an artsy accent, and his compositions clearly state his individuality. Speaking about his upcoming album, Naked On A Train, Vinay says most of the tunes on it have been inspired by his experiences. He says, “Sometimes a tune just happens to pop into your head, but I find that a lot of times the inspiration does come from real life, kind of like a background score to what’s actually happening around you.” Excerpts from an interview:

How would you describe the music of this album?
The album is largely instrumental; there are five instrumental tracks and one vocal tune. I guess you could say it is a contemporary world fusion music with hints of jazz and rock and roll. There are 11 musicians playing different instruments on this album. I experimented with the vocals for this album. While the songs are instrumental tunes, I have used voice as a musical instrument, adding various harmonies to every song. I think I can safely say that Bhavana Reddy, a friend and colleague from my college days at the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, has done a spectacular job with the vocal harmonies on all the six tunes.

You said that this album was inspired by real events. How did those events change your life?
Well for starters, the story behind Naked On A Train gave me the title track for my debut album; I don’t think there’s a bigger change than that. On a more serious note, that experience really showed me that reality can be stranger than fiction. As a foreign student at the Musician’s Institute (MI), I was recruited into a team of students who would help set up the stage for the MI graduation ceremonies at the prestigious Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, USA. On one such graduation day, while I was in an almost empty train, I saw some movement on the far end of the next carriage. Someone was getting in very quickly. I looked up and saw a lady, completely naked, running at top speed down the aisle through the other carriage towards mine, chased by two cops. That’s a weird scene, even for Hollywood. While the cops, still by the carriage door, were discussing how to handle the situation, she stopped right next to my seat, looked at me, jumped over my knees and crouched onto the seat by the window next to me. The reason why she chose to jump onto the seat next to me in an almost empty carriage still eludes me. That incident stayed with me through that entire day, and as soon as I got home, after what felt like an eternity at the Wiltern, I went straight to my guitar and penned this tune down. It was my way of dealing with the intense events of that morning.

While working on an album, what is your to-do list like? How easy or difficult is it to work all by yourself on a project?
While I’m not an expert — this is my first album — it has been a huge learning curve. Composing the music was the easy part. I really enjoy that. Scheduling the different musicians to come and play their parts was difficult. While the whole process was exciting, exhilarating and frustrating at the same time, the journey made me learn a lot of new things.
Did you face difficulties funding this album?
Production costs for a full album are extremely high, even if one is doing most of the work. This is when the idea of crowdfunding came to mind. In the end, I managed to collect 140% of my set goal, which came up to $4,200! This was one of those moments when you know you are doing things right, and are headed in the right direction, and you feel so humbled by the support of the people.

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 18:32 IST