IMR : Hi Gaurav ! At last a sigh of relief, your album is out. So how are things at your end?
GAURAV : Lol..yeah..it is a great feeling that the album is finally out! It had been almost a year and a half that I’d been working on it!..:) And I’m really glad with the way both the album and the video have turned out! At the moment, we’re doing a lot of shows to promote the album, most of them college fests and also quite a few public shows. The platforms on some of the music channels have also helped and the title track is catching up with college students!
IMR : What is the concept of your album & what message have you tried to spread through it? Any USP?
GAURAV : This is a Hindi Rock/Pop album with 9 tracks on it. It’s not a concept album; each of the nine tracks is independent of one another and has something to say! “Om Namah Shivaya” talks about living for the moment and for one’s dreams. We plan to make a concept video for it though! “College Days” reflects upon college life while “Fighting All Alone” is a song that talks about the life of a street kid! There are also a couple of love songs and a track called “Aaj Tu Yaad Aayi” which is my take on Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss”! The USP of the album is probably the simplicity of the songwriting and the arrangements!
IMR : What made you enter into the music stream, considering the fact that you are a MBA graduate
GAURAV : I was the vocalist of my college band in TSEC and absolutely enjoyed performing to a live audience! I also started writing songs during that period and realized that it was something I enjoyed doing the most! So while going to IIM-A, I decided to make use of my MBA degree in such a way that it would take me where I wanted to go! I think that’s what education is meant for! So I kept pursuing music whilst studying at IIM-A, and simultaneously planned my moves for the future.
IMR : Is it by your personal choice that this is a solo flick, or is it by fate that you don’t have a band?
GAURAV : Since I’d done all the songwriting for this album and hadn’t come across a steady set of band members at that time, it made sense to go ahead as a solo artiste. Today I pretty much have the band in place but I’ll continue to be a solo artiste. So its something like how Bryan Adams is!..:P
IMR : Any artists/bands that has been an inspiration through out the whole journey?
GAURAV : Many of them, and over different periods of time actually! When I was in my junior college, about 7-8 years back, bands/artistes like Strings, Junoon, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Euphoria, Lucky Ali, Silk Route, KK etc were a major inspiration. I still dig that music! It was during engineering though that I got introduced to rock by a few close friends. Some of my favourite bands/artistes include Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater etc. Played and covered some of them during engineering and MBA. It was only after I started learning Indian Clasical music and studying Urdu a couple of years back that I began to appreciate Indian music well. Writers like Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, Gulzar etc are source of inspiration even today. Also composers like Shankar-Jaikishan, R D Burman, A R Rahman & SEL have created stuff one can learn from. Ghazals are also a great source of learning of Hindi/Urdu poetry though the topics they cover are usually limited!..:)
IMR : What comes deeper from your soul music or lyrics?
GAURAV : Hmmm…For me the music comes first and the lyrics follow. So it’s really the mood of the composition that generates the concept of the song! Writing lyrics is the harder part really, cuz most of my thoughts are in English and they need to be translated into Hindi while retaining the idea and avoiding clichés at the same time!..:) So for me creating the melody comes naturally and is more fun!
IMR : You are an old horse as far as concerts are concerned, any reason why Indian Rock Scenario is light years behind and very uncommon among the local crowd?
GAURAV : I don’t know if 1 year of playing live qualifies me as an old horse or not!..:) Anyways, as far as rock shows go, I can only say that they appeal to those who can appreciate this genre of music! And though it’s going in size gradually, it’s still a small number – mainly the college going crowd in cities. And that’s fair enough, cuz if you go to the interiors and have a look at the people there you’ll realize how far behind our country still is in even basic education, forget listening to rock music! So rock shows are restricted colleges and bigger cities only. Also in most colleges, 80% of the crowd still digs Bollywood or Pakistani Pop/Rock. So there is still some way to go before rock becomes more accepted. In the meantime shows like Channel [V]’s Launchpad etc are doing a lot of good for the scene in terms of increasing the commercial appeal of the genre. Hindi Rock meanwhile is doing great and is gradually becoming mainstream with composers like Pritam and SEL blending soft rock and Hindi lyrics together.
IMR : What made you select the album title as 'College Days’, or it is just a catchy title that suits the present music scene in India?
GAURAV : College Days was the best title the album could have had not just because the first video single is that of College Days but also since most of the tracks on the album were written during the period I was in college. Also from a marketing perspective, it makes sense for the album to have a name that can be easily recognized by the buyer, especially since I’m a new artiste and people may not know my name! So they might listen to “College Days” on the television or on Youtube and then seeing the album with the same name might prompt them to pick it up.
IMR : Tell us something about the "College days" video shoot? What is the theory behind releasing 3 different versions of your song?
GAURAV : I wanted to shoot the video at IIM-A not just because I had studied there but also because the Institute has a great architecture. We were given the permission to shoot for 2 days. The production house “Via Us Productions” (previously having done videos for KK, Abhijeet Sawant etc) and I did the pre-production for about a week in Mumbai where we finalized the script. The whole crew went in from Mumbai except for the actors which we thought we’d get from Ahmedabad. That proved to be a major problem since most IIM-A students were on vacation. We luckily managed to get people from NIFT and a few other colleges. The shoot was great fun and every shot produced great entertainment with the cast and crew joking around with one another. At the end of the shoot we had a great party on campus on the terrace of one of the dorms with the entire cast and crew. It was great fun! There are essentially 2 versions of “College Days” – the unplugged one (Track 2) and the fast one (Track 8) on the album. The video edit was also included cuz we thought there might be people who might wanna use that audio track too.
IMR : Many of the famous guitarist and drummers have played with you, how was the experience?
GAURAV : Certainly a highly enriching one! Ranjit Barot is not just a great drummer but also a great producer. He had a vision of how the album was gonna sound like and that really made a difference cuz he chose musicians accordingly. So right from getting Amyt Dutta to play on “Aaj tu yaad aayi” to Sanjay Joseph on “Alvida” & “Manzil”..they were all his choices. Chandresh and Nicolas Fiszman also played on the album. Its always nice as a songwriter to have such a high degree of musicianship going into your songs. Also I learnt a lot during the recording sessions at Ranjit’s studio (Nirvana) which I think is one of the best in the country. All in all, it was a great experience.
IMR : How has been the overseas response so far?
GAURAV : The album is available in certain select stores in the US and UK. I really don’t know the sales figures there but there are people writing in from these countries saying that they loved College Days. My platform on B4U helped me here as it is the only Indian music channel broadcast in the US. College Days is also in the Top 7 on Radio 4 Dubai and will soon play on Radio Tarana in New Zealand. The fact is that there are a lot of young Indians who’ve just graduated from India and are working abroad. College Days will definitely appeal to them.
IMR : Your debut performance was in the IIM’s how was it ? What exactly did you feel backstage at that time?
GAURAV : My debut show actually was the JAM CAT Concert 2006 in Mumbai where I opened for Sona Mohapatra and Parikrama. Except from the die-hard rockers who cant stand anything in Hindi, we got a terrific response from the crowd. The real big show however was at IIM-A where my band and I opened for Silk Route and Junoon. Somehow that night we were at the top of our game and we rocked the place! It was great to share the stage with bands that have been my influences and also holding my own in front of them!
IMR : What would have Gaurav been if not an artist?
GAURAV : Wait and watch…Gaurav is a lot more than just an artiste and will show all his sides eventually!..:)
IMR : Any incident in college you really remember? (We expect some unexpected answers)
GAURAV : Haha..I remember this crazy incident during Engineering when some freak sent out a newsletter to the entire college that blew the lid off several secret relationships on campus including mine in great detail. It was really embarrassing and the girl never spoke to me after that!..:) I wrote plenty of sad songs in the months that followed!..:lol!
IMR : Rapid Fire (no half page answers please) !
? Rock/Metal/Bollywood : Rock
? The place you would love to perform, Mumbai, Banglore, Delhi, your alma matter : Bangalore (have never played there & have played at all the other places).
? Jal/Indian Ocean / None : None.
? MTV / Channel[V] / FTV : Channel [V].
“This is from team IMR, we wish you all the best, and May you get all the girl friends you want”.
This is from us. Regarding the girlfriends part, I have my hands full but thanks for your best wishes anyways!..Smile
-Mahesh Puttapaka (K.I.N.G)