“I be­lieve com­pe­ti­tions are for horses and not for artistes.” -- Ju­bin Nau­tiyal

Stardust (English) - - MUSIC ROOM -

His voice is not only melo­di­ous, but also ex­tremely soul­ful. Josh Chakraborty meets singer JU­BIN NAUTYAL, and comes back feel­ing ut­ter re­spect for this mu­si­cian and his love for mu­sic.

He had a fa­mil­iar face, but I wouldn’t know, as I had only heard his voice - a voice filled with orig­i­nal­ity and per­son­al­ity of the truly hum­ble. The strug­gles of his ca­reer brought him to a path where he is grate­ful, ap­pre­cia­tive, fo­cused and ready for his jour­ney ahead. Sit­ting at a crowded Star­bucks, I wanted to hear noth­ing but his story. This is what he has to say. Pre­sent­ing singer par ex­cel­lence Ju­bin Nau­tiyal, un­plugged!

How does it feel to make it big and get out of the strug­gle?

My jour­ney has been very in­ter­est­ing and event­ful. Ac­tu­ally, the day I stop to be­lieve, the day I stop to un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing around me… I think that would be the time I’ll be truly be able to an­swer this ques­tion. …So much is mov­ing, so much is hap­pen­ing in my life… that I am still try­ing to un­der­stand my jour­ney. I came to Mum­bai six to seven years back and for the past five years, I have been on the run. I’ve been blessed with a crazy ca­reer graph where I am get­ting to sing the big­gest songs and work with the big­gest

ac­tors. And com­ing from a small town that is too much to take. It is too much to ob­serve. So I am not re­ally think­ing about how big I’ve be­come, I am just fo­cus­ing on my next song be­cause that’s what I know I have to do.

Be­ing a per­son whose ca­reer re­volves around Bollywood, do you per­son­ally lis­ten to Bollywood mu­sic or any other genre in par­tic­u­lar?

Al­though I am work­ing for Bollywood right now, I am a mu­si­cian be­fore that. Be­ing a mu­si­cian, I lis­ten to all kinds of mu­sic. I lis­ten to Span­ish mu­sic, African per­cus­sion mu­sic, opera mu­sic from Ger­many and all the folks stuff. I am from a tribal re­gion - a small place called Jaun­sar Bawar - I lis­ten to the folk mu­sic from there and the re­gions around it. Ev­ery mu­sic has its own essence. It’s like lan­guages, you learn three and the fourth one is easy to catch. So yes, I lis­ten to a lot of mu­sic.

How was the ex­pe­ri­ence of meet­ing your idol A.R. Rah­man? Do you think that you would be some­where else with­out his ad­vice?

Rah­man saab has, with­out even say­ing, taught me a lot. I’ve been like Eklavya for him. I’ve ob­served his work from a dis­tance and I’ve read his in­ter­views, I’ve taken his ad­vice. He is a man of very few words, but those few words that he speaks hold the depth of an ocean. I think he is some­body who has re­ally taken In­dian mu­sic In­ter­na­tional and made it re­ally big. It’s not some­thing many peo­ple have done in their ca­reers and that is com­mend­able. I met him as a teenager and I was def­i­nitely ner­vous and very scared. The mo­ment I played my mu­sic in front of him, the first thing he told me was, ‘Your third string is un-tuned son’ and that kind of broke me, broke ev­ery­thing for me (laughs)... And he fig­ured that out. So he heard my voice very care­fully. And he told me, ‘You must be 17 or 18 right now, you have a very dif­fer­ent tone, voice and that is God’s gift and I think you should give your­self some more time, your voice and vo­cal chords are still de­vel­op­ing, you need to ma­ture by the time you are 21. Don’t let Mum­bai or any­body else’s style af­fect you. Stay orig­i­nal to your sound be­cause you have it. That was the big mo­ment when I de­cided to leave Mum­bai, I started trav­el­ling for mu­sic. I would go to Ba­naras to learn semi-clas­si­cal stuff, I would go to Swarn­ab­hoomi Academy of mu­sic to learn some en­sem­bles of West­ern and clas­si­cal mu­sic. I would go to Lon­don to learn how pro­gres­sive rock mu­sic re­ally hap­pens and in­fuse it with our lan­guage. It’s ba­si­cally been a crazy jour­ney and i am still learn­ing and ex­plor­ing ev­ery sin­gle day. But yes, that one meet­ing did cre­ate an im­pact on me and af­ter meet­ing him, I de­cided that he is a mu­si­cal sci­en­tist and if he is say­ing some­thing, I MUST DO IT! So I fin­ished my first year in col­lege and left for my mu­si­cal jour­ney. So def­i­nitely if I had stayed back, maybe I would not sound the way I do now and maybe things wouldn’t work the way they do. But then again, that’s what jour­neys are about!

You had done a re­al­ity show called XFac­tor, but now you are way be­yond it given your break­through, af­ter your strug­gles, do you think you have gone above the X-Fac­tor level? I just cleared one round in that re­al­ity show and then I fig­ured that re­al­ity shows were not

for me, as I am not a strug­gler. It made me re­al­ize that I would have to strug­gle to be there, to be a part of this show. But I was never a strug­gler. I am some­body who en­joys mu­sic and I re­spect dif­fer­ent styles, I’m not try­ing to copy some­body or sing like some­one else. Def­i­nitely X-Fac­tor was my first re­al­ity show but that was not my plat­form. So af­ter the first round, I called it quits. Com­ing from a small town, I had too much love around me and every­body had too much to give me. Chota bhi tha umar mein, toh hawa mein udne lag gaya tha. So I started think­ing of my­self as the rockstar of the town. When I went there, I re­al­ized that I was like a par­ti­cle of dust in this world – and there were thou­sands of singers who sang so much bet­ter. So that re­ally gave me a big push and I felt that if I wanted to make it, I would have to take this stuff se­ri­ously.

Where do you get your in­spi­ra­tion for the songs you write?

I per­son­ally like that ex­pres­sive mu­sic zone, dance mu­sic is not that ex­pres­sive. You have to sing them in the right mood. But when it comes to a ro­man­tic or sad song, you have to re­ally ex­press ev­ery word and feel ev­ery emo­tion. And I think be­ing a se­ri­ous mu­si­cian, that’s the kind of shit I want to do. I would want to do some­thing dif­fi­cult or chal­leng­ing. Ro­man­tic or sad songs, I would say ‘the jour­ney’ songs are very dif­fi­cult gen­res of mu­sic be­cause get­ting the emo­tion right is the only way to crack the song. I get my in­spi­ra­tion from my fam­ily, my mom and dad - they don’t be­long from a mu­si­cal fam­ily or be­long to this line of work. But my dad in­tro­duced me to Kishore Da, Rafi saab, Nus­rat Fateh Ali Khan saab. Lis­ten­ing to these peo­ple re­fined my taste in mu­sic as I was lis­ten­ing to good mu­sic. So it was my parents, who in­tro­duced me to the right kind of sounds at a very young age. To­day, I am 28, I think I’ve been in love and had my heart bro­ken along with it over and over again. So by the time you are this old, you have plenty of things to say when it comes to mu­sic. So when­ever I am singing a song I am re­lat­ing to it as much as the com­poser re­lates to it. That is why I am prob­a­bly choosy with my work. If I am not able to re­late to the song, I won’t do it and I don’t find too many songs that I re­late to.

Can you speak of the songs you are cur­rently work­ing on?

I am work­ing on this crazy song, it’s a trib­ute. I am a very big Kishore da fan. Bach­pan se unke awaj sunkarke aise mukkam pe pocha diya bhag­van ne. So the next song you are going to hear is Keh Doon Tumhe’ in my voice. It’s an old clas­sic, su­perb num­ber. And I will pay a beau­ti­ful trib­ute to Kishore Da. Be­sides this, I am also work­ing on some in­ter­est­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions.

What is the most pres­ti­gious event you would like to be a part of?

When I started off with my mu­sic, even if I was not as big as I am to­day, I would still be mak­ing mu­sic,

sit­ting in some small club and still play­ing on the gui­tar be­cause that’s the way of life for me. When I got into this line of work I did not think ‘this is where I want to reach’ be­cause I think I would re­strict my­self by putting those bar­ri­ers in my head. So it’s one day at a time – so I’ve just com­pleted my pre­vi­ous song and that’s how I feel.

Which hero would you want to work with?

I’m a ro­man­tic voice def­i­nitely. King of ro­mance Shah Rukh Khan would be a very good face for a voice of mine. If I get to work with Shah Rukh bhai, it would be a big priv­i­lege for me. Who doesn’t want to work with Shah Rukh Khan?

Which ac­tress would you sing a love bal­lad for and why?

Aish­warya Rai. Be­cause I’ve worked with her. And she’s the only ac­tress I’ve re­ally in­ter­acted with and I re­ally like her en­ergy. Be­sides her, I would ac­tu­ally like to sing a love bal­lad for Shrad­dha Kapoor be­cause she is a singer as well, she’s a bril­liant ac­tor and I’ve met her. I like her. She has a good en­ergy and there’s a mu­si­cian in her.

It is in­deed a com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try, what would you say your stand out el­e­ment is?

My stand out el­e­ment is that I be­lieve com­pe­ti­tions are for horses and not for artistes. I think artistes should get along very well and they should col­lab­o­rate with, learn from and grow with each other as an in­dus­try. By com­pet­ing, you just pull your op­po­nents down. Healthy com­pe­ti­tion is def­i­nitely good. But when it comes to an artiste, I don’t even con­sider the word com­pe­ti­tion be­cause dif­fer­ent artistes come with dif­fer­ent jour­neys and dif­fer­ent jour­neys speak dif­fer­ent mu­sic. Some­body’s jour­ney comes out in that form of art and two jour­neys meet to­gether to col­lab­o­rate on a piece of art and that’s beau­ti­ful when that hap­pens. Two dif­fer­ent fla­vors get on the same plate, sud­denly the meal be­comes tastier. So I don’t think about com­pe­ti­tion, I’m just try­ing to work.

There was some is­sue with the song you had sung for Mo­hit Suri’s movie HalfGirl­friend. What was it about?

I had sung the song Baar­ish for the movie and they re­placed my voice. I don’t know how much. Some­times I hear the song and I can still hear my voice some­where deep down. It was quite heart-break­ing be­cause I had worked a lot on that song and the mu­sic di­rec­tor was con­vinced, the whole team loved the song, they were call­ing it the driver song of the al­bum. But I think the mu­sic com­pany had some is­sues. I don’t re­ally know what hap­pened. I’m just an in­di­vid­ual, I haven’t made it that big to ques­tion the record la­bels. This was one song that taught me that the in­dus­try is chang­ing. So you got to change with it.

Which mu­sic di­rec­tor would you want to work with?

The list has gone smaller, I’ve al­most worked with every­body. I’ve worked with Sachin Ji­gar, Amit Trivedi, Pree­tam Da, Rah­man Saab. There’s two mu­sic di­rec­tors I would want to work with - yet to work with - that’s Shankar Eh­saan Loy and Rah­man saab.

If a di­rec­tor wants you to learn a re­gional lan­guage, how do you think it would go?

I can sing Ben­gali songs, it was the an­them called Let’s Dance Kolkata. I’m like a spring, the more you push me down, the more I rise above, and that’s part of my na­ture. This is some­thing good for my ca­reer as the more I feel that this is some­thing I can’t do, the more I want to do it. I think I’m up for chal­lenges in ev­ery way.

Is there anything re­ally close to your heart that you are work­ing on?

There are only two things that are close to my heart - my gui­tar and my mom. But I am pos­ses­sive about the al­bum I am writ­ing - I’ve writ­ten five al­bums. Al­though it’s not the time of al­bums, but I am going to wait for the time where I am in a po­si­tion where I can put it out and re­lease it, and I’m sure peo­ple will love the stuff I’ve writ­ten and made.

I had sung the song Baar­ish for the movie and they re­placed my voice.”

Chota bhi tha umar mein, toh hawa mein udne lag gaya tha.”

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