Honestly, I never plan my repertoire beforehand, unlike other artists. Even with the band we leave it absolutely fluid and kind of decide the songs at the venue and decide three-four new songs,” says Gary Lawyer when asked to share the list of songs he will be playing at Shisha Cafe tonight (December 14, 8.30 pm onwards). Popular as ‘the man with a golden voice’, Gary, the singer-songwriter, is known for his songs like Nights on Fire, Just for Tonight, Highway to Heaven, Look at Him Now and the latest Heaven’s Child, among others.
He has also sung covers for musicians like The Doors, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Freddie Mercury and served as the opening act for Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and Def Leppard. He has also started recording jazz standards at his home where he will be recording his original evergreen songs and putting them on his website. He is also working for a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Here’s chatting up Gary prior to the show:
Where do you draw your inspiration from while writing a song?
It is quite instinctive and innate. The influences are inbuilt in your personality and if you are convinced that you’re are born to be a musician, you know that along with music, prose, poetry, etc are part of you and you look at everything through the eyes of an artist. My lyrics are very much a part of who I am. However, you can’t really control how the lyrics or the song will be perceived by a listener because every human being and his personality is different and anybody who hears the song or is into music, comprehends the song in his/her own way.
What is your comment on the present Western music scene in India?
I think musicians have become more serious now and there is a lot of nice and original stuff going on in India, but sadly, it is not brought up to the forefront because Western music is not much encouraged here. I see a lot of young and great talent, and I wish them success in life. I hope it works for them one way or the other because with Bollywood getting so big, it is difficult for artists. When Western music is compared to Bollywood, it has no attention at all. I feel independent music is a great thing today but there aren’t enough opportunities and not much money in that — people do it for the love of it. There’s no denying that these young musicians are keen on making their living out of music by opting for indie music or choosing social media but to help them we don’t really have the right infrastructure. They need to earn enough to fend for the family. Therefore, a lot of Western musicians feel compelled to join Bollywood because there is no way they can survive doing what they are doing.
Tell us the difference in the way Western music is looked at in India and abroad.
The audience in the West is aware of the genre. They are certainly much more mature as they are exposed to big concerts and biggest bands in the world. I am not saying that the Indian audience is not aware, there are a lot of people who love and appreciate Western music but it is not sizeable. Although, I would like to mention that if it is tapped properly, India is really a huge Western music audience by virtue of our population. When bands like U2 and Coldplay came to India, there were thousands of people present at the concert to listen to them which means that we definitely have an audience, but we do not have the proper infrastructure. Our audience is not exposed to excellence from the West, so we need to get our infrastructure in place and bring excellence to our country and display it to the people. Having said that, India has a lovely and warm audience.
With tools like YouTube, iTunes, and music apps, the avenues for musicians to put out their music has grown. Do you agree?
Well, it is giving an opportunity in a sense for sure! There are more avenues now and anybody can put out one’s video for people to listen to which has definitely helped a lot of artists. You don’t have to bank on record labels, you just put out your stuff on the internet and you can even have a small recording studio at home. The only negative is that there is so much of it going around that even the stuff that should be heard, doesn’t get heard. There is an overload of talent on the internet, everything is so jumbled up, it is like flying through space.