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‘Stood on an agent’s desk and sang to get noticed’

‘Stood on an agent’s desk and sang to get noticed’
She is electric. On stage and otherwise. We caught up with her at the wake of the Storm Festival that just wrapped up. Here are excerpts from the interview...

Tell us about your journey.
I have risen here and fallen there into clouds and became the rain.

What inspires you to create music, who are your idols?

What is inspiring is musicians who play music just for itself, not in order to win some bogus popularity contest. I am not sure if it’s a good idea to idolize anyone. It just seems to lead to trouble in the history of humankind. I admire all great musicians, as they all reach out to you in ways that are so different and individual. Musicians with a memorable intensity and vision: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Fela Kuti, Bjork, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Lou Reed.

Tell us about your first break and how the journey has been since.
I walked into an agent’s office in Sydney, stood on his desk and belted out a song. I was seventeen. I have been gigging ever since.

Some memorable moments for you?
My most memorable musical experience was playing onstage in London with a big group of Sufi Qawwals from Lahore along with musicians from Rajasthan and London and feeling the whole place lift off.

What songs top your playlist?
I am listening to L.A. Woman by The Doors right now, but to be honest; I am enjoying my own freshly minted album Queen Between at the moment... playing it to my friends. It’s a happy and proud moment every musician who makes a record knows.

What suggestions would you have for newbies who want to make it big?
I think it’s fair to say that all musicians totally suck when they begin, so give yourself time to develop. Rest assured, in a year’s time you will be much better than you are now, so be patient but keep working and changing. What I always say is you will know you’re own breakthrough artistically when you have one song that really clicks. Meanwhile, anybody can record nowadays... try to test your music on people live. Distill the essence of what you have - one great song at a time but don't overwork things; keep moving. It’s better to write one good song than a hundred mediocre ones.  My real advice to them is to ask themselves what exactly are you trying make ‘big’?  Music is a connection point so think about what it is you want to connect.  Be original. Be brave. Be crazy. Be adventurous. If you sound like just anybody else keep it as a hobby. Think big and small! We need music that is not the same old thing. Try not to peddle fake sentiments in order to make it because if you do you will get there and it will be meaningless. Lastly, everyone needs a producer; it’s a role play thing.

What is on the cards for the Storm Festival?
We are going to play with Kutle Kahn form Jaislamer in Rasjathan, who is an amazing collaborator with a super energy. I think we will really have a great time playing together and it’s an interesting contrast.
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