Thinking Out Loud

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Nitish Pires.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tell us about how your Journey began as a musician.

I started my journey as a musician in 1999. I was one of the guys who started the Hindi rock scene and it was initially very difficult to make a breakthrough because back then, people didn’t understand the concept of Hindi rock- at all. Basically, there were no bands doing that kind of stuff in India. Although bands like Junoon were around - they had a heavy Sufi influence- and so they were more of Sufi-rock bands than anything else. No disrespect to them though. They did a cool job. But not exactly
- what I was aiming at. Also, Bands like Euphoria were putting out albums – but they were again into a lot of fusion and had more of a pop-sensibility.

I was one of the guys who did rock- without any other influence. Just the Hindi lyrics and the rock format: that was it. Also, at the time- it was quite difficult to convince labels to invest money for such projects. Pakistan had become a big brand- and most labels thought that we Indian Musicians weren’t meant to play rock- We were only good at doing Bollywood music. Well, that’s what they thought. I had other plans in mind.

I struggled everyday- Just for the love of it. I used to go to Universal music and sit at their reception for long hours at a stretch- and after three years when I finally got my first contract- I was on the top of the world. I was 22- at that point of time. And I was steadily beginning to think that I’d finally set out on the path I always wanted to tread.

So, they got all of the things together- and released the album- but then I slowly realized- they released it just for the heck of it. I’m not even sure how many copies they made and it never even went to the shelf. This was a big shock to me because I had taken loans to make the video for the album- I had also done the audio on my own- the label hadn’t paid me a single penny- for the recording and eventually I didn’t get anything out of it. Nobody really got to listen to my music. Eventually, my band split. We weren’t getting shows anymore and Djs had suddenly become the trend.

And your comeback with Sarhadein…

Yeah, I came back with Sarhadein in 2007.  There was a friend of mine who sponsored me with this album. It was with his money that I got a video together for the promotions and stuff. So, this time I was beginning to think I’m technically correct- I shouldn’t fail this time. I have good video representation and I’m going to market it well this time- but eventually I came to the same shitty situation.

I went to a few music-labels they said the same things ‘Give us the marketing money and we will release your stuff’. There was a friend of mine who had a small label and since I knew him well we released the album through him but it didn’t work out because- it didn’t have enough network and not enough links. MTV did release the video and gave a little bit of support. They played it and did whatever they could come up with and I understand they couldn’t have done more- because they had their own protocols- like any other music channel on the planet.

 And Chauraha?

Chauraha is a concept album. It’s based around this guy- who takes a wrong direction in life and the day he realizes the road is wrong- he turns back to find all doors closed for him. It’s a beautiful story- that was inspired from teachings that I read in the Bible and the Geeta.  So when I was done making the album I was pretty confident I would get back-up because nobody else was doing this kind of a thing at that point. Sadly, I was facing the same things again. This time – the offers were even worse. There was this one label who offered me a contract saying ‘You make your own video and give us 8 lakhs- we will market it’. I asked them what I would gain from it. They said they’d give me 35% royalty from CD sales. So, then I asked them ‘if they could assure me that I would do well in the market if I give them the money and they were like “How can we guarantee that?” I walked out at that very moment.

As you might have guessed- I was extremely pissed. I was confused about one simple thing- We have what it takes- we want to work hard. Why wouldn’t they accept us like the way we are? I mean I’m sure they wouldn’t have asked Metallica for the same thing! And I don’t see why we should be treated any differently!

About the tour- how did it start and why did you start it in the first place?

I did all I could in terms of approaching people. I faced failure over and over again. And I was sure, It wasn’t my mistake. A simple opportunity was all I was asking for. And Music labels were not providing me that. So then I formed my own music label called ‘Music Hawkers’. When I did that I realized I wouldn’t be able to market this because I didn’t have money with me. So, I sold whatever I had – my house, my car- EVERYTHING. My wife was always a huge support. With all the money I gathered- I made my album, a video and 3000 cds. Now I suddenly got this idea. I realized that the only way of connecting to an audience would be to go to them and make them hear your music. So, that’s how it began. I brought myself a van, my own sound, powers etc.- a basic set-up- in other words and got my act together. I decided I will go to different places all over the country and try spreading the word- with just one thing at hand- the power of my music. With this journey-I had one thing in mind- people will listen. And I knew that for sure- because I believe in my music and also because nobody has to pay me. I guessed nobody would think twice for a gig. And so far, that’s exactly how it’s been. I can practically play anywhere. Also, this is not just about the playing bit. This is about a message I carry. People will steadily come to realize that Indian bands have more than just music with them. I’m hoping that with my tour- people will come to realize and support the power of Indian Bands

About the journey…

I started my Journey from Mumbai. Initially, it was kind of difficult because I was driving alone. But then, I slowly came to realize that the whole tour was about ‘faith’. Faith gave me the strength to go on. I started this tour with 2000 rupees in my pocket and it was faith that brought me here- to you. I was stuck in Pune for 10 long days- Faith got me opportunities- the money poured in and I was able to get through. Every place I go to- I get a desired amount of money collected- in form of donations and cd sales-not through anything else-but faith.

You could have made your music sitting at home and popularized it through the internet. Why take all the pain of doing so much?

I’m not doing this just for myself. I’m doing this for others as well. I want to connect with people through my music. Make them see what exactly my world is like. I want them to feel my music- not just listen to it. And I can assure by doing it- rite in front of them. I’m trying to be a voice for those people who worked their asses of to promote their music but couldn’t do it because of these Music Giants/ Big music labels. Tomorrow when this tour ends and when people get my message- it’s going to help each one of us. And I can guarantee you that.

When will this tour end?

It’s not an organized tour, If it was I could have called people saying ‘Main aah raha hun’- things would have been a lot easier. I go to a city , stay there for a few days-learn about the place- meet people –make myself heard and once I think I’m done – I move on to the next one. Funnily, I never know what the next destination is. Hence, I’m really unsure when it’s going to come to an end.

After this tour?

I want to continue what I’m doing- helping myself and helping other aspiring musicians reach a better platform to perform and be heard. I want to do this on a global level someday. I’m also working on this site- it’s called it’ll be a platform for people to talk about and discuss the elements/ happenings/ evils of our society at large. I’m a Film-maker too. So, I’m thinking of getting back to that as well. So yeah, loads on the list. Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Good luck and congrats on the GIMA nomination.

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