worldbeatcanada radio – INTERVIEW
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"A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places."
Isabelle Eberhardt (1877 - 1904) Russian-born traveler
worldbeatcanada radio: Global music aficionados have for years been aware of the South Asian invasion. But, if there ever were any doubts in the mainstream they were soundly quashed in an evening of Hollywood glitz and glamour when Slumdog Millionaire took home the Oscar, not only for best picture but for best soundtrack. Now that the North American nut has been cracked open, India is sending through their most beloved emissary who has launched a North American debut and tour aimed at the centre of western pop culture.
Kailash Kher: Hi, this is Kailash Kher. I hope you’re enjoying my new album Yatra (Nomadic Souls).
WBC: The timing of this new release couldn’t have been better don’t you think?
KK: I'm really honored to be a part of this North American release of this Yatra, my album, Nomadic Souls on Cumbancha Records. The kind of warm response I'm getting from where ever we play with my band, it's really overwhelming. The other day I performed at Hollywood Bowl in LA and it was well-attended, a crowd of almost 15 thousand. Everyone was giving me blessings and enjoying themselves and they truly enjoyed the kind of music we were performing. Afterwards, so many came up to me and gave me unique and sincere compliments. That was really amazing!
WBC: Personally, I feel flattered that you have put forward an album that seems to target myself and people like me who see the future of popular music to include greater cultural representation from the world around us. Do you believe in that too?
KK: I have one belief throughout my life that we belong to one world. And, one world is for humanity, for peace and for love. And, when emotions arise from any creative activity, you represent the entire world, not only one culture. We each belong to one culture because we were born in a certain atmosphere, brought up in a certain way and the language we adapt. But, when we grow, God makes us more responsible to be an ambassador for that culture. So, it is really our duty. We should pursue certain things if God has placed that spark in us. Then we should go beyond borders and barriers and spread the message of love as much as we can. That's where I think my kind of music can help, because people don't even understand our language yet they enjoy our music, not because of the sound or the rhythm. Rhythm and sound are in every kind of music. But, the overall energy is there. The purity itself is there. I think that's what connects with people.
WBC: Cumbancha is a label that I think shares that belief as well. Did you approach (Cumbancha founder) Jacob Edgar to release this project on his label or did he get in touch with you?
KK: My life is full of surprises and every layer of surprise came from God, let me put it that way. Two years back, Jacob was traveling to South India and in one of the autorickshaws the radio was playing one of my songs. Jacob asked the driver what song he was hearing and who was the performer ... what kind of singer he was and where can you get in touch with him. The autorickshaw driver didn't know anything about all that. So, Jacob made efforts to call the radio station, which is a big deal because in India northing is that organized. It's a big country with so many people! When he finally heard this CD of mine with Kailasa which was released back in 2006 in India, he checked out my website and then early this year, everything fell into place. My manager, Ali Sachedina made all the arrangements and Cumbancha released the album.
WBC: worldbeatcanada radio is on the pod and in person with Kailash Kher to talk about his fabulous new album, Yatra (Nomadic Souls). Enter his online world at www.kailashkher.com. Aside from the concise song structures and lengths and of course your remarkable delivery, the most striking thing about this album is the arrangements. The funk, reggae, poppy sitar solos the likes we haven’t heard since The Beatles Revolver. What can you tell us about your band mates?
KK: Naresh and Paresh Kamath are two brothers who used to have a band called Bombay Black. In 2001 I met them when I was trying to make my album. At that time I had composed a couple of tunes. Now, the way it works in India, I compose the melody and then I envision what kind of sound I want to give to my tune. And, I write my own lyrics. So, Naresh and Paresh created some sounds and it worked for me. Slowly, slowly we realized that their sound and my voice, and my composition compliment each other. That's how we formed the band, Kailasa. Things have been progressing like that since 2002 to the present. It's like a miracle! All three of us sit together. There is a Kailasa band of almost ten musicians but we are the front men, the three of us. So, after I sing the composition against a click track we all decide, OK, on this we should use flute, on this we should violins, on this we should use more ethnic instruments and that's how the arrangements come together. And, we cross barriers, we cross borders; we don't get hung up on just one set of instruments or sounds which come from one certain place. We try to experiment with any instrument from any part of the world which will compliment the sound.
WBC: But, your amazing voice is the foundation. We're going to go out on Na Batati Tu which is one of my favorites. What's the song about?
KK: It's a song about love; love, but in a playful mode. It's kind of like hide and seek. The meaning of the song is I will not tell you, you have to tell me. There is something inside my grasp and you have to tell me what it is. Is it your name?
Kailash Kher was interviewed by Cal Koat for worldbeatcanada radio on September 26/09