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‘Most films have no scripts, music and stars sell them’

Tell us a bit about the journey that makes you what you are today? Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
Of course! All of us have regrets, all of us have committed mistakes. The point is, are we going to sit and mope over them? Or take them as valuable lessons, learn from them, and move on? My journey was near-magical. Things just fell into my lap without me looking for them: recording contracts, film offers, the Pepsi, Shure Microphones and Raymond Suitings endorsements, representing India at international festivals, foreign tours, the works. But let’s not forget I worked for it the Bhagwad Gita way; that is, not for the fruits, but for the love of the work itself. I mean, there was no independent original music scene in India then, so there was no ‘success’ to be expected. Yet I set up my own home studio and released my own albums on a very small scale, simply because I had to let the music off my chest. When these became hits in Goa, people like Shyam Benegal and Gul Anand asked me to do the music for
Trikaal
and Jalwa respectively - and thus Bollywood came to me. Again, without me looking for it. And then one thing led to another. I’ve been particularly blessed, for which I’m always grateful.

Your music is known for the trademark Goan strains, ever thought of singing anything else?
Ever thought of doing your homework before interviewing someone, kid? It’s easy today, with Google and Wikipedia. Check out my rock albums, my chill-out albums, my socio-political songs. The only two Goa Groove songs I’ve ever done in my Bollywood career were done this year: Maria Pita Che and Luv U Soniyo.

From Indian pop to Bollywood, that too as early as 1995, was it a matter or adapting or changing channels completely? Was it because the pop industry in India would gradually see a decline? Did you predict it?

My first Bollywood song was in 1987, not 1995. I did Bollywood simultaneously with my own music, almost right from the time I released my first independent album. I did it because I could - very few people are capable of making a mark in different fields. If one day you become truly famous as a highly respected journalist, and write a best-selling novel, and write the screenplay for a hit film, you’ll know what I mean. I was able to be equally successful in every genre I’ve attempted - be it pop/rock, Goan folk, protest songs, chill-out, orchestral, Bollywood, whatever - because to me music is music, and the various genres are not barriers, just liberating avenues. Even after the pop/rock scene in India died a premature death, I’m still producing and releasing my own songs and albums, together with my Bollywood songs. Some of my private releases have been signed on to Buddha Bar in France and Opium Garden in the USA, while they remain totally unknown in India.

Bollywood is witnessing a lot of ‘objectionable’ lyrics these days. What do you think about those? As a singer, how do you explain the popularity of songs like DK Bose (Delhi Belly) or Party all Night (Boss) despite the ‘objectional’ content?
I guess I’m lucky my Hindi is so poor, because I hardly understand or follow the lyrics of the Hindi songs I hear.

So you think under these circumstances, creative freedom is curbed? As a singer how do you react to this?
Creative freedom does not mean doing just about anything just to sell. If songs and films denigrate women, for example, and inspire our youth to treat girls like objects to be molested, raped and flung aside, and even murdered, then by all means they ought to be banned. Especially so in a country like ours which claims to treat women as goddesses, and where people only demand Freedoms, but forget Duties.

With the popularity of EDM, people say that the voice no longer matters and anyone can pretty much become a singer - what do you think?
For your information, it’s not Electronic Dance Music, it’s plug-ins called Melodyne, AutoTune, etc which can put anyone in perfect tune and time. With this plug-in I can record my dog barking and process those barks to make him sing a song, if I wish to. So yes, anyone can be made a singer in studio. That’s why most of today’s singers can’t sing live on stage, and lip-sync.

We have heard your Bollywood tracks - what do you predict next for Bollywood music? It has changed massively in the last few decades, where do you think it is headed next?

Have you really? Wow! Thought you’d only heard the two Goan tracks. As of today, music is the best and most original thing happening in the majority of Indian films. Most films have no scripts or content to speak of, and depend heavily on their music and star names to sell themselves. The music will only get better and better. I just hope the film scripts catch up with the music.

From pop songs to jingles to Bollywood tracks - what has been your best experience?
As I said - music is music. I enjoy it all. I enjoy sitting with my acoustic guitar and singing to a handful of friends on a full moon night in my garden as much as I enjoy composing, directing and singing a block-buster track for a film.

Tell us about a few of your favourite tracks.

Impossible! There are simply too many. Even talking about my favourite genres of music would be too difficult for the same reason. Let’s just say I love and feel the music which I feel has been truly inspired, not created with sales and revenues in mind.

What’s next in the pipeline for Remo Fernandes?

I’ve done my first role as an actor [not musician] in Anurag Khashyap’s new film Bombay Velvet. This was a first for me, as I’d always thought of myself as someone who couldn’t act to save his life, and was totally taken by surprise when Anurag’s casting director insisted on me acting. But now the bug has bitten, and I’m thrilled to be offered another character in a film which will go into production in December. This is a much longer and more important role, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
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