A recipient of the Best Pop Artist Award at the Radio City Freedom Awards 2015, Pune-based singer and songwriter Prateek Bhaduri’s music has resonated with the young, wild and free. His latest album ‘Shades of Me’ is reflective of what makes young hearts tick and the young singer can’t curtail his excitement of seeing his pet project through. is soulful, moving and is known to leave a lasting impression on his listeners.
Team Radio City Freedom caught up with the young virtuoso. Below is an excerpt.
How did the idea of making a multi-lingual album occur and why?
Prateek: It occurred years ago when I had just gone solo and had quit my progressive rock band where we wrote material of a certain style and arrangement. The songs were strictly in English to appeal to an already nascent audience of progressive listeners. This thought really bothered me because I felt if you want to be an independent artist and you want your music to be heard, you have to be able to connect with more number of people when the population of this country is 1.2 billion with so much diversity. If you fail to make inroads in connecting with your audiences and feel that "oh my listeners have not reached that state of maturity to understand my style" a thought and dilemma many musicians suffer from, I feel there is a problem.
My experience and belief system in writing in more than one language started with seeing how the masses reacted to Hindi songs or the use of one's mother tongue irrespective of the genre, or whether it was an original or a cover. As an artist, I would want my next door neighbour to listen to my music and also would want the followers of independent music who have always heard my material to continue listening and connecting with me.
But if I fail to make fresh connections to the real world around me with my songwriting then I don't feel that I am doing justice to my art. Also, I have always loved multiple genres of music be it hip-hop, rock, RnB, metal or Bollywood. For me a good song or good music is of prime importance and there should be honesty and integrity in the writing. That's exactly the principles with which I wrote this EP "Different Shades of Me" - An album not bound by Language, Genre and an album that showcases the different shades of me as a person and the social issues that I am deeply connected to and affected by.
From the looks of it, the album traverses across multiple genres. Is it a conscious decision to experiment with diverse sounds?
Prateek: Yes it is. I hate defining music by a certain genre. It constricts my freedom as a singer/songwriter and composer. When I started the composing process. I did not decide that oh! Andekhi has to be an Alternative Folk Rock and Inner Love needs to be a psychedelic acoustic rock song. I completely went with the feel and flow of my singing and writing. Sometimes, a good riff defines the future of the song. Sometimes, a melody I composed at 3 am led to me sitting for days writing lyrics to it followed by composing the music.
Since I listen to so many styles and genres of music, that it gives me a fresh perspective of arranging the songs and adding different elements that I feel fit well with what I am trying to express vocally and lyrically. Also, my lead guitarist Boiha Fanai and producer Adhiraj Singh did a phenomenal job in understanding where I was taking the songs and what I wanted to do with them during this process. They made life much easier to be honest.
Also to all the musicians who were a part of this project, I would like to thank them all and give them a big shout out - Dean Vaz on bass (Children of Love, Shara Raat, Inner Love), Arjun Shrivatsan on Keys (Inner Love, Shara Raat), Saket Rao on cajon and percussions (Drift Deeper), Prasenjit Paul on cajon and percussions (Inner Love), Anic Prabhu on violin (Andekhi )
In a Rolling Stone India interview, the date of release of the EP suggested September 2014, whereas, it has been unveiled in September 2018. Why did it take so long for the EP to shape up?
Prateek: I sensed this question would creep up.
Lot of factors to be honest, from getting caught up with loads of live shows to then realising a few songs needed more work until I felt they were absolutely ready for release as per my satisfaction. There were times when I used to be ready to record a track but session musicians weren't available or the studio wasn't.
However, these spaces only gave me more time to test out the structures of my songs live for a while until I was a 100 percent sure and satisfied with them. The fact that I am extremely driven by each of these songs made me want to do my best with them vocally, musically , arrangement wise and also with regards to the final product .
But here it is now and I am so glad that people have responded so positively to the songs.
Three out of five songs are themed around self-discovery and coming-of-age. How much of it is a reflection from your personal front?
Prateek: I must say, that’s a great observation Vijayalakshmi :) Well, I write songs on experiences and issues that affect me as a person. We all go through difficult times and we all get depressive and lonely sometimes and that’s what led me to write ‘Inner Love’, a song about looking inwards and loving yourself for being you. I hate to see people suffer from depression and destroy their beautiful lives. Self-love is the best motivation one can give themselves. To find peace and love one must look inwards. The problem is people try very hard to find it outside in the real world and I tried to do my bit to address my feelings about the same through this song.
‘Children of Love’ is a song about children born in war-torn regions around the world. Seeing war and poverty along with lack of education and freedom for young children is something that affects me as a human being. I felt driven to write a song dedicated to this because I feel we can help in creating a better world for children and not spew hate among them. I have dedicated funds of the song sales of ‘Children of Love’ towards charity for the education of poor kids. Also I have the music video of the song planned which will further support this cause. Andekhi, Drift Deeper also have deep messages that speak out for themselves.
In the future as well, I will continue to write songs that address social issues and hopefully continue to have the same long lasting impact on my listeners.
As an independent musician, how much does validation and recognition matter?
Prateek: I think validation and recognition is important. It surely makes one feel good and it surely plays a strong motivational factor in pushing oneself to do bigger and greater things and also stay connected and driven to your art. Everyone knows how difficult survival is in the music industry and being an independent musician is even harder. So validation and recognition are those baby steps for the independent scene to become bigger and better. The more people listen, like, appreciate, connect and follow independent musicians, the more artists will be motivated to make better music for these people. The more you will see them perform since the same people would take time out to experience them. This helps us create a parallel industry that has nothing to do with the film industry and we are getting there slowly but surely.
Singer-songwriters you admire from the Indian indie scene and why?
Prateek: I love the sense of direction Prateek Kuhad has given to his music and the way he and his entire team and management have paved the way to popularize his content. It’s quite commendable and he has done a fab job with it.
I have really enjoyed listening to Nikhil D'souza and Siddharth Basrur's work over the years. I really like Dhruv Vishwanath's music and songwriting. His guitar playing is highly admirable. Also, Tejas Menon writes some really good songs.
I am always excited to listen to the songwriters and bands from around India.