By Ankit Sinha
New Delhi–The level of talented musicians in India is impressive, says US-based Grammy nominated singer Anjali Ray, who feels they are creating “true art”.
“The level of talent in India is mind-boggling. What the musicians here are creating is true art,” Ray, who is in the national capital for a string of shows, told IANS in an interview.
Does she believe that besides a niche crowd, music lovers in India are somewhat still obsessed with Bollywood tunes?
“While it has been several years since I lived here, I don’t think Bollywood is going anywhere. In fact, it is gaining serious ground in the United States! But I believe, based on what I have seen, that with the world becoming smaller and more connected, independent original music here will thrive,” said Ray, whose album “Indigo” was released recently.
The singer, who began her ‘Indigo’ tour in Delhi last month, also performed in Kolkata, and will play two more gigs here over the weekend. She said that she would love to return to the country in the future for more shows.
“This tour was at some level designed to lay the ground work for future efforts, meet people in the musician community, and introduce myself. So far, the experience has been better than I could have hoped, and I am definitely looking forward to returning in the future,” she said.
Ray, who was raised in the capital till the age of 10, has an eclectic range of musical influences that include Indian classical and jazz. Her album “Indigo”, she says, is based on her “experiences as a wife and mother, but also on leaving the tumultuous period of early motherhood behind and moving on”.
Musically, she draws inspiration from celebrated names like M.S. Subbulakshmi, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and Mark Knopfler.
Being an Indian origin musician living in the US, Ray said that she has both an advantage and disadvantage.
“Ironically, the biggest advantage is also the biggest disadvantage: you’re an outsider in both places. While it takes more open-mindedness and attention span on the part of the listener to get to know you, it’s easy to make a distinct impression because your sound is unique,” Ray asserted.
Talking about the current state of indie music in the US, Ray said that it is “alive and well”, but that varies in different cities.
“I think certain cities are more receptive to independent music than others. I don’t particularly think that Los Angeles is the best place to be a working musician. Everyone wants to be a ‘star’, and that carries with it a certain amount of pressure which turns me off a bit,” she stated, while adding that the Indian scene, although new, is a “much more welcoming place right now”.
“The community is close yet growing, as is the demand. From what little I’ve seen (and I say this without any real knowledge of the challenges here), it seems like a great time to be a musician here,” she added.
Despite the popularity of online streaming and digital downloads, Ray said that she still likes to buy CDs but finds downloading “convenient”.
“I actually still like buying CDs versus downloading music. But you can’t beat the convenience of the download. I think they serve two very different purposes,” she said, while mentioning that it would be a “trip” to see her album on vinyl.