Winit Tikoo was studying engineering in Delhi when he picked up the acoustic guitar and began to write music. During vacations,he put together four songs,with Urdu lyrics. Then,in 2002,the Kashmir-born musician moved to Mumbai to make music. But the scene wasn’t as he had imagined. I was stunned with the superficial and commercial approach of the record label industry, he says. I decided I didnt want to have anything to do with them,so I took up a regular job in the city and ended up not writing any new material for many years. The songs he had arrived with,too,were buried.
Over 10 years later,the singer-songwriter with three more musicians put together a band. They recently landed a spot in the third edition of Coke Studio @ MTV,following a month-long competition,LeapFROG to Coke Studio @ MTV,set up by Blue Frog an d makers of the television show. They were chosen from over 24 bands.
The 33-year-olds formal training in music began early. Before his family left Kashmir and moved to Delhi when he was 11,Tikoo had already been under the tutelage of a classical vocalist. My earliest influences are ghazals that my father heard (Ghulam Ali,Mehdi Hassan),old Hindi film songs that my mother heard on All India Radio,and the bandishes and bhajans that my teacher taught me, he says. In Delhi,he did gigs while in school,although solely as a vocalist. It was also around this time that Tikoo was introduced to bands such as U2,Pantera and Rush.
His music now incorporates both,Urdu poetry and rock tunes. Tikoo played a great deal with his Urdu lyrics,soothing,almost mesmerising vocals and acoustic guitar. With his band,though,its a much more alternative rock/grunge sound and no Indian instruments,yet the lyrics have always been Urdu. It happened quite naturally, he says. Im more keen to reach out to my people and I want to write for them first,then everybody else.
Before the chance to be on Coke Studio @ MTV came up,Tikoo and his band Veljon Noronha (guitars,vocals),Aditya Kadam (bass) and Pushkar Joshi (drums,percussion) were working on their first album,which is likely to be out later this year. But they decided to try for the television show anyway. TV is a desirable stage for any serious musician in India, he says. And I have always wanted to experiment with Indian instruments. So,they added two musicians on Indian instruments Sharukh Khan on sarangi and Vaibhav Vadikar on tabla as the show demanded. Their win,Tikoo says,is an achievement we will cherish forever.