Interview Musician and song writer Raghu Dixit looks inward in his second album Jag Changa
This is our best foot forward, says the pioneering folk-rock, lungi-clad musician and vocalist of the multilingual Raghu Dixit Project.
Six years after his debut eponymous album comes Jag Changa , an introspective assortment of experiences Raghu has collected over the years and packed into a diverse amalgam one has come to associate with the Bangalore act – soulful, uptempo and earthy. Jag Changa features tracks in Hindi and Kannada as well as Raghu’s first song in Tamil. The eight-track album features some incredible collaborations and charts the band’s evolution, both personal and sonic.
“The first album was only a collection of songs I wrote over many years,” says Raghu. “When I look back now, some of the songs were quite immature and bordered on amateur. The recording was inconsistent. This second album comes with a lot of experience.”
However, he points out that sonically the album is not just about the band. “We’ve met some amazing musicians across the world and played with some incredible musicians inside the country. So the idea was to get the music of whoever I’ve watched and been completely blown away by into the album.”
The collection features collaborators such as American banjo player, and wife of the legendary Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, members of Roysten Abel’s The Manganiyar Seduction, members of acclaimed English contemporary folk band Bellowhead and Suhail Yusuf Khan on the sarangi.
For Raghu, the second album is a documentation of his journeys in life. “That’s why the album is so diverse. Each song stems from a tangentially different musical genre or inspiration. I feel very happy about the way it turned up and I hope the happiness is infectious.”
The album is scheduled to launch at the upcoming NH7 Weekender music festival in Bangalore. Raghu says he and the team have tried to visually interpret the album. They’ve put together a range of artistes from dancers and stilt workers to puppeteers and jugglers, even a dollu kunitha troupe.
“I searched for a dollu kunitha team on Youtube. These guys were the seventh video and their energy just blew my mind. I got in touch with these guys and found them to be really enthusiastic and committed to this presentation.”
As a former scientist and Vidwat in Bharatanatya, Raghu discovered his passion for music during his college days. “I found an incredible and inexplicable joy and sense of liberation that I had not felt ever before in music.” At the heart of most of Raghu’s songs is deep personal experience. “The track ‘Yaadon Ki Kyari’, recollects my childhood experiences and fondest memories growing up in Nasik. ‘Amma’, my first Tamil song is another one that I hold very dear to my heart and delves into my relationship with my mother.
To me, writing these songs was a cathartic process. The lyrics by singer-songwriter Ankur Tewari and Madhan Karky Vairamuthu added deep emotional connect to the songs as well,” he concludes.
ALLAN MOSES RODRICKS