‘We should never forget our roots’
Kailash Kher talks about his band Kailasa, ‘different’ lyrics that he writes for his songs and Sufi music
H e made us all croon to songs such as ‘Teri deewani’ and ‘Saiyaan’ when he released his albums Kailasa and Jhoomo Re. That was 10 years back, even today Kailash Kher’s ideology of music hasn’t changed. The singer believes lyrics play an important role in making a good song, and says that Kailasa brought about a wave of change for independent music in India.
How has the journey been since ‘Allah ke bande’ (Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II; 2003)?
It was my first popular song in a film. Two years after that our band Kailasa finally took off. We were working on our album since 2002, but it was just not working out. But suddenly miraculous things happened with the album just after ‘Allah ke bande’ was released. In 2006, we released our first album, also titled Kailasa, which had the song ‘Teri deewani’ among other and was received well. A year later, we released our second album. We were under extreme pressure during the release of that album, because the first one had become such a hit. I couldn’t understand all of this, I didn’t know what came next, and I didn’t understand the pressure. I feel that we brought in a sense of newness and innovation in the independent music scene. I’ve always believed that the reason behind this was that I was never trained professionally in music. I never listened to Bollywood music, neither did I listen to ghazals or qawwalis. I used to only listen to classical and folk music. I believe in coming up with fresh words that haven’t been overused, and I think of words from dialects not languages. I write my lyrics in dialects, and a lot of people from urban areas don’t understand that. The kind of music I believe in is either categorised as classical or devotional, but I tried to make them contemporary I think that led to a different path for independent music.
How do you write your lyrics and where are they inspired from?
When I was four or five, my father and his friends would get together and sing in their free time. They used to sing mystical poetries, and I was the only child who used to sit with them and try to understand the lyrics and poems. These lyrics weren’t straightforward and would be woven into puzzles, so I would try to decipher them. And when they used to explain the lyrics to me, I would listen very carefully and the meanings used to be very philosophical. I thought there was some form of magic in these lyrics, and that’s what I tried to incorporate in my songs. I got very attracted to mysticism, and subsequently to music. I have always respected the lyrics of a song since then. I realised our words carry a lot of power.
Were you always etermined to make a place r yourself in Bollywood?
ever. I had never hought of it. I just came ere to record my bum. Because we sed to write, make usic, and sing, we ame here and we were etermined to do omething different. We had to come here ecause most usicians were based ut of Mumbai. When came here, people ould be taken aback hen they saw me, ecause I was very fferent, used to ear different othes, and used to speak differently. But everyone would look at me and take notice.
Did you ever feel that while your Bollywood career was taking off, somewhere your band Kailasa got neglected?
Kailasa and Bollywood always went hand-in-hand. I tasted success in both areas equally. In fact, films were a coincidence for me. After ‘Allah ke bande’, people started to take notice and offers started pouring in.
What do you think of Sufi music in today’s day and age?
These days Sufi has become a trend, and when something becomes a trend, people start following it even without authenticity a lot of times. But I believe in coming up with fresh words that haven’t been overused, and I think of words from dialects not languages. KAILASH KHER, SINGER spirituality in a song is apparent, even though the song may have only a little bit of it. You don’t need to broadcast that factor. The vibe of that song will tell you that this song has something in it that touches the soul. You will get goosebumps after listening to actual Sufi songs. Plus, good poetry has a lot of impact on listeners.
How do you choose your songs?
I never say no to a song, but there is a way to express your displeasure over a song if you don’t want to sing it. Whenever I don’t like a song or I don’t think the lyrics are good or it’s the same kind of song that I have sung a 100 times, instead of saying no to those songs, I suggest some improvements and try to make the song a little different. So instead of singing ‘maula’, ‘ali’ a thousand times, maybe I’ll ask them to replace that word with ‘daata’ there to change the colour of the song. n