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‘I’ll do a movie only if it feels right!’

‘I’ll do a movie only if it feels right!’
How did an album like Traces Of You happen?
I approached the album as a whole, as opposed to a series of songs. A lot of it happened unconsciously. Life took a journey of its own and the music followed. The sitar leads the listener through the album like a narrator. The central theme is that of the cycle of life – from my perspective as a daughter, mother and wife. Life goes on. Things end and things begin and our endings are not endings because life goes on beyond us, and we go on beyond this life. It’s bigger than I can ever imagine and there’s a flow that connects everything, even when you can’t really understand it in the moment.
A lot of the most painful things I’ve ever been through have led to some of the most beautiful things that have ever happened. I was quite aware of that kind of metamorphosis when making this record. There was a lot of pain, a lot of joy, a lot of beauty, a lot of sadness, and sometimes they were all completely mixed up together. My album, like all my previous work, is inspired by my life and is an emotional response to my life experiences. I got married, became a mother and lost my father, so certainly these were huge experiences that I was responding to when making this music. However I wouldn't condense and simplify the album as simply being about these three people: it was about musical dialogue and experimentation, it was about love, change, loss, and hope.

Your new album is inspired by three forms of love, please tell us more about it.
It was one big party as I was working with people I’m close to. Nitin (Swahney) was the one who steered me towards this project. His immense knowledge in music has been of great help. And working with Joe has been nothing but fun. Traces Of You is possibly my most emotional and personal album to date, and also a very cohesive attempt at making music outside of genre boundaries.  This album is my second collaboration with my sister, Norah, who has sung three tracks on the album. Even though we have different styles, we compliment each other, This album is very close to my heart as it is a remembrance to my father. It is inspired by the idea that everything in the universe leaves an indelible mark, or a subtle ‘trace’ on everything it comes into contact with. The music this time is possibly more accessible to listeners as the songs are rooted in Indian raga and Western harmonic counter-influences, with songs in English. It was just five days after my father’s passing that the gruesome gang-rape took place in Delhi. I was deeply affected by it and it influenced my music.

Tell us about your equation with your father.
We had some delineation within our relationship. He was a strict disciplinarian as a music guru but adoring and pampering as a father. As my guru he took me through a lifetime of intensive training in the traditional manner in which he had learnt and the techniques he had developed during his long and legendary career. This is the foundation on which I built my music. But he also encouraged individuality, as he himself was extremely inventive.  My father’s music lives on but I don’t plan to purposefully carry his legacy forward as I don’t think of it in those terms. My childhood was by turns stable, happy, stressful, nomadic, exciting and bewitching. I have great memories of travelling with my parents and seeing music and dance around the world, watching my father perform, attending dance lessons in Chennai with my mother and going to school in London and California.

How have you expressed yourself through music?
My music is, I suppose, somewhat like me: eclectic, soulful, feminine, celebratory. I've been lucky to receive training in Indian classical music from my father and that in combination with my unusual upbringing and musical tastes make my music quite diverse but with strong roots.

What's next in pipeline?
I’m frequently performing my father’s Concertos and Symphony with various orchestras around the world. Next year I’m curating a festival in London at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, continuing to tour ‘Traces of You’ worldwide, and hopefully starting work on a new album as well. I’m very interested in composing for movies, but I have a very successful musical career so I don’t need to take on any film for the opportunity. I am not looking to be a full-time composer for films. I’ll only do a movie if it feels like the right fit for what I have to offer... for my form of music, for my strength... there are many people who make more popular form of music that suit the Bollywood film industry — much better than I will ever do it.

If you were not a musician then what would be your choice of a career?
Possibly a writer, a lawyer, or a yoga teacher.

Tell us about your husband and your son Zubin.

Joe and I met in New Delhi at a dinner given by the author William Darlrymple four and a half years ago. We just clicked, I suppose.
On the other hand, being a mother to Zubin is making me more patient! It's changed my priorities, the choices I make and the way I manage my time. It's brought more laughter and love into my life.
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