Musician Somesh Mathur plans to take Indian melodies to foreign shores with his start-up
When my friend, author BL Gautam, wrote lyrics for a song to discuss the plight of the farmers in this country, I was wowed. But we decided to go even deeper," says musician Somesh Mathur. What that means is that they travelled the villages of Saurashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, amongst others, to talk to the farmers and get insight into their troubles. "We wanted to tweak the sentiment so that it was closest to the truth," says the 50-year-old, whose efforts will soon be unveiled as part of a Farmer's Anthem that's been given the seal of approval by Cabinet Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh as well. "Even the minister gave some inputs, as they want farmers to focus on soil culture. I then got around 43 folk musicians to play and sing on the record. It's getting mixed and mastered in LA and then we will present it to the government again."
Mathur, who was born in Bandra, and then grew up around the country in Delhi and Kolkata, holds a degree in Sangeet Visharad from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Delhi. He has, in his three decades in music, performed over 1,600 concerts, and released 12 albums — one of his albums with Asha Bhonsle, Asha — A Brand New Album, also won an MTV Video Music Award in 2006. But, last year he started something that was very close to his heart, and an initiative that he regards as the main driving purpose in his life. He launched his start-up, Sweet Beats, which he refers to as a holistic music company, and which aims to take Indian folk talent to the world. He says that the idea behind Sweet Beats was to release honest music that is not bothered by anyone's agenda. "I want to basically do what Bob Marley did for reggae," he says. His recent coup has been doing an entirely Indian-instrument based acoustic version of American popstar Julia Michaels's international super hit song, Issues. "That version has 48 Indian instruments. Universal US loved it and it should be released soon as well."
And that's what Mathur's grand plan is formed of — to make sure Indian melodies get worldwide recognition. "India is the Mecca of melody. So, for example, one Raag Bhairavi can create almost 1,000 compositions. It's all about using Indian raags, and Indian instruments to create music by collaborating with Western producers and artistes."
He is already in talks with Julia Michaels and hip hop singer Lalah Hathaway. But, his dream is to get to singers like Rihanna and Shakira. "That's the best way to get legitimacy." Right now, along with trying to get the Farmer's Anthem out and heard by everyone who could make a difference or just to spread awareness, Mathur is also busy auditioning folk musicians across the country. "I am in Ahmedabad for a performance right now, and I did auditions here as well. It's about getting the best talent available out there.
When we are trying to take it international, there is no way we can compromise. Only top calibre will do."
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