Interview Raghu Dixit gears up for the launch of his second album ‘Jag Changa’ that traces his life and band’s journey
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 this singer — soulful, uptempo and earthy. Jag Changa features tracks in Hindi, Kannada as well as Raghu’s first song in Tamil. The eight-track album features some incredible collaboration and tracks the band’s evolution, both personal and sonic.
“The first album was only a collection of songs I wrote over many years and like anything else it was as honest as a debut album could be,” says Raghu. “When I look back now, some of the songs were quite immature. The recording was inconsistent. This second album comes with a lot of experience.”
Not just about the band
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 with 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.”
On what fans and music lovers can expect at the launch, 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. “The album launch is very special. That’s when NH7 came forward and we got the stage production ready. It is going to be mind-blowing — something other bands would only dream of emulating. It is also about being part of a dream that did not materialise earlier due to financial restrictions. Here was a festival that was opening its doors to us giving us the freedom to experiment.”
One of the highlights of the launch will be an explosive dollu kunitha troupe drumming along to Raghu’s Kannada composition ‘Parasiva’.
“I searched for a dollu kunitha team on YouTube. Their energy just blew my mind. They are all college students from the University of Agriculture Sciences on GKVK Campus in Bangalore.
“I got in touch with them and found them to be really enthusiastic and committed to this presentation. This is going to be a one-of-a-kind show and I don’t know if we can ever repeat it again. But it’ll be something I can definitely tell my grandchildren with pride.”
The former scientist and Bharatanatyam artiste 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’, is about my childhood experiences and memories of growing up in Nashik. ‘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 gave a deep emotional connect to the songs as well,” he adds.
The Bacardi NH7 Weekender will be held in Bangalore this weekend.
ALLAN MOSES RODRICKS
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