A lot of time I draw inspiration from one of my past relationships that I have been into in the last two to three years,” says Nikhil D’Souza singer-songwriter and playback artist. His music has a touch of folk, is unconventional and acoustic, and, most importantly, his voice is different from the others. Nikhil, who has enchanted us with his ‘silky baritone’ with songs like Anjaana Anjaani, Sang Hoon Tere, Aate Jate Hanste Gate, Har Kisi Ko Nahi Milta, Mere Bina and so on, is also a popular name in the indie music scene in India for his English numbers and lyrics.
The Mumbai-born artist recently released a new single titled Silver and Gold, which speaks of a relationship that grows and matures. Nikhil wrote this song along with his friend Jeff Cohen. Nikhil tells us more about the concept behind his song, social media sensations and other things:
Of love and such things
“Usually when you sit down to pen a song, you talk about where you are in life in that given point of time and what has been happening. Over the past few months, the kind of conversations that I was having with friends, was all about how relationships these days are shortlived and it is rare to see two people together for a long time — it is easy for them to get into something and get out of it too soon. But if you analyse your parents’ generation, you will see that there were certain reasons that made them stay together and the relationships worked. My song is all about that — how relationships are breaking down and the reasons for a failed relationship,” says Nikhil who has also created Father and Son, Changes and Storm Without A Sky. The song also talks about how you may be getting into a relationship now and if you could make it work, you could prove to be an exception.
Playback vs indie
Nikhil has performed at many big musical festivals in India including NH7 Weekender and is also performing in the UK. If you ask him to describe his kind of music and what he enjoys more —indie or playback in Bollywood — he admits that Bollywood is a bit of a challenge for him.
“When you are singing for a film, you are a voice and an instrument in the hands of a composer. When you are lucky enough, you get to work with a few composers who allow your take on the song. However, most composers just want you to sing in a certain way that might not be your style. It is a challenge to step out of your style and sing like someone else because a lot of time a composer has something in mind and you have to stick with that,” Nikhil points out.
English songs in India
About Indians listening to English songs/ music created by Indian artists, Nikhil says that the increase in the number of listeners has been marginal. “There hasn’t been a significant change in what people are following in music or what they are downloading for Indian singers who sing in English. The ball is very much in Bollywood’s court. Of course, other genres like indie music are getting popular, but that’s not the case when it comes to singers and songwriters in English category. I think Indian music listeners who want to listen to English numbers still look to artists from the UK and the USA,” he adds.
Performing live and recording
Nikhil enjoys live performances and finds them quite thrilling. He says, “The thrill of being on stage and singing songs to a live audience, seeing how they react to it, and sharing an emotion with people right in front of you is an amazing feeling. However, I also love recording a song. When you are recording in the studio, it’s again a different kind of feeling because you are creating something new which is preserved on records.”
Nikhil whose music is quite offbeat and not too mainstream says his idea of music is probably different from what a lot of people listen to or follow on YouTube and Instagram. “My idea of music is all about being able to write good songs, and performing them well live. When you are on stage and sing the song live — that is the true sense of an artist for me,” explains Nikhil who quit his 9-5 job to pursue music.
About the craze of YouTube stars, he says, “I think and hope that the whole YouTube thing is temporary. There isn’t much artistry involved. When you sing a song in a studio and have it auto-tuned and Melodyned, enhancing the audio and video with the help of tools and technology and putting it out there, it’s not real artistry. That’s my opinion about it but here’s the thing — social media, YouTube, Instagram, etc are all tools and a reflection of what people want and have been listening to and if it is their choice to listen to substandard covers of songs that need not be made into covers, that is up to them. I am not a judge of what people should listen to and not listen to.”
Collaborating with other artists
Nikhil, who says ‘Pune is my favourite place to play,’ feels that he is still establishing himself and collaborations will take some time. “Once I have my songs and album ready and they are out there and established, that’s when I can see myself collaborating with other artists. I would love to write a song and would love to see another artist join me. A lot of time I see collaborations are done for commercial reasons and that comes across as forced. That’s really not what I want to do,” he concludes.