You have collaborated with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain once again in Hazir. Why did it take 21 years for the sequel to come up?
The response to Hazir, which came out way back in 1992, was simply amazing. Honestly, there is no reason why we came up with this sequel after such a long gap. Both Zakirbhai and I have been meeting at several occasions, exchanging musical notes among others things. A couple of years back, I had also sung for a symphony written by him and together, we performed at Washington. Even during that phase, we kept toying with the idea of launching a sequel. Since both of us were busy with our respective concerts and other work, it was only last year that we decided to go ahead with the plan.
How long did the recording process take?
It took us almost about one and a half years to complete the entire album. While naming the project, we thought that the word Hazir is already synonymous with the two of us, so we decided to call it Hazir 2. During the process, I would compose a song, put it on track and sing it to him, to know if he has liked the vibe of the composition. The songs have a blend of various taals, be it Jhaptaal, Rupak, Keherwa or Dadra. Each taal has a different count, which adds some variety in each track. Once the track was completely ready, I would send it to him on email and then we would discuss things further. He came down to Mumbai towards the end of 2013 for a week and that’s how the last leg of the process was wrapped up. The recording sessions were done in my own studio, In The Mix.
You have also launched your own music label, Magic Records.
Yes! Hazir 2 is the first album under this label. We are also working on the marketing and promotional strategy of both, the album and label, right now. Since we have our own studio and production facility, we thought of taking the next step and launching a label. We are working on my son’s album next, after which, we will use the label to provide a platform to music artistes belonging to diverse genres. But I don’t think I will be involved in the process completely like a business person, since I am more of a creative individual.
It’s been quite sometime since you recorded a Bollywood number.
I haven’t been much of a Bollywood singer as such, although I have belted out quite a few tracks. I am doing a lot of work in the regional space. There are some Marathi songs that I have recorded which mostly will be picturised on the young actors. There are several other numbers down South, which I have sung; in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam and will be released this year. I am looking forward to the reception that they will get.
What about your collaboration with Leslie Lewis? Are the Colonial Cousins making a comeback anytime soon?
We did Once More together in 2012, which got a decent response. After that, there hasn’t been any discussion.
Concerts and shows across the globe must be keeping you busy as well?
Absolutely! (smiles) I just finished a US tour, where I did a string of ghazal concerts. There is a Bangla reality TV show coming up, which I am a part of and which will ensure lots of trips to Kolkata. I am also launching a Tamil album in Malaysia on June 13, which is titled JIL (Just In Love). There are multi-city tours coming up and then, I am also in the process of finishing an album called Hariharan’s Tribute to Mehdi Hassan, which is a live concert recording.
What is your take on the current crop of music artistes, both in the film and non-film scene?
I think they are very creative and far more technically sound. They know how to make good use of the electronic beats and each artist has their own individual style, which is distinct and very impressive. Some of the music composers are also good singers, which makes things easier while communicating during a recording session. Among the singers, I think Arijit Singh is a very good find. From the new lot of composers, I like Amit Trivedi’s work. From the seniors, apart from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Vishal-Shekhar, I love Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s work.