‘When I’m writing a song, I don’t think Bollywood’
Singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad sure knows how to pull a crowd. His performance at Reverie, the annual cultural fest of Delhi University’s Gargi College was proof. The singer’s mesmeric voice had the crowd follow through every crest and trough of the song. And how did it go for him? “It was fine. Honestly, the past four or five shows have been like this one, with five to six thousand people, so this one didn’t seem like a change,” says Kuhad.
The singer adds, “Honestly, college shows aren’t the best organised. So, for us to come as a crew and perform gets a little difficult at times, and I don’t wish to put up any substandard shows for my fans. Because of lack of organization, a lot of things happen, but I get that college shows are more accessible to many of my fans and that is why we are trying to find a balance so that I can keep performing for them. I am open to playing any shows I get. I am a songwriter and performer, so it’s kind of my job.”
Indeed, and one could vouch for it, but Kuhad still feels more comfortable in intimate setups. “When cold/mess released in July last year, I chose to follow it up with some house gigs because I wanted to do something for my fans.
They’ve followed me, stuck with me and nothing is really possible without them, so this was a way of giving back to them. I wanted the act to be really stripped down, without speakers or amplifiers. So, I chose for it to be just me with my guitar in a room with just 20 to 30 people.
It is a lot more comfortable for me to perform in that kind of environment because it is exactly like when I play in my own room. There’s no sound check, nothing at all. I just turn up with my guitar and share a more intimate experience with my fans,” Kuhad explains.
Ask him about any musical influences that he has had, and what his writing process is like, and the 28-year-old says, “My music is a mix of everything really. You borrow from real life and fill the gaps with craft and fiction. I also try to do my own thing, though, because that is the point of creating your own songs. But I agree that all art created is a derivative of something that already exists. I am trying to be honest with my music, and the way I write my songs.” Back in college, he could name the artists and bands he listened to, but can’t pinpoint specific artists that dominate his playlist anymore — he is listening to a lot of stuff, always discovering new voices.
I’ve done one film where I sang a song I didn’t write, and it was more of an experiment for me. Playback singing won’t happen for me unless the song really speaks to me.
Kuhad has sung for Bollywood (Karwaan, 2018), but he won’t do another song unless he really likes the song.
“I’ve done one film where I sang a song I didn’t write, and it was more of an experiment for me. I am not really a singer, but more of a writer. I like singing my own songs more since I can express better. Playback singing won’t happen for me unless the song really speaks to me. I have to respect the song to sing it. I don’t think of Bollywood when I’m writing a song, and for me, such an opportunity will be like any other project,” says Kuhad.
Success is usually followed by people seeking advice from you, but he says it is a strong word. That is why his reaction to people asking him for advice, is that he can’t tell them how to live their life. “I simply tell them the facts of the industry. I’d tell anyone to observe their likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses and figure their way out. People often, in the pursuit of knowing how to make it big or how to amass a fan base, forget to focus on what their craft is,” he says.
The Raat Raazi singer lives in Delhi, but isn’t much of a lover of the city. “I grew up in Jaipur, and I am not really from Delhi, so I’m not really in love with the city. I do love to go for a jog to Lodi Gardens, but that, too, has been ruined by the smoky winter air. I’d maybe resume that in summer,” laughs Kuhad.