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“IT’S ALMOST LIKE THERAPY”

Swearing by independent artists, Ankur Tewari looks forward to more projects like Gully Boy, so as to explore more untapped talent

With over a decade of experience in the independent music scene under his belt, Ankur Tewari it seems, has seen it all. He’s hopped from one project to another and has ticked the boxes on all counts. His YouTube comments section is always overflowing with praise, and of course his music speaks for itself.

A rabid believer in the potential of independent artists, he wants to see more such talent come to light, and is happy to help them on their way. With a baritone to rival Alex Turner’s, he chats with Patriot about his journey, his experience on Gully Boy, and his career so far.

Where did your journey in music begin?

My journey in music started pretty early actually, I think right from school. It was only after college that I took a serious step and started to pursue it professionally. So yes, I can safely say that I’ve been making music professionally since 1998.

You have been involved in projects ranging from a children’s album to a feature film. How does your vast repertoire affect every next project?

Somehow I have had the good fortune of building a repertoire of varied projects like children’s albums and films. But I don’t think it affects my next project at all. I approach all my projects individually.

What has been your most memorable collaborative work so far?

I think the most memorable piece of collaborative work I’ve done in recent times is this project called Little Whale. It’s with Gaurav Raina and Karsh Kale. We’ve been working on it for five years. It’s something that we wanted to attempt, where we do work outside our comfort zone. Apart from that, the song with Prateek Kuhad, Dil Beparva, did very well for us, and was also quite an interesting experience.

What would you consider your most special work till date?

Somehow one of my first songs that came out, Sabse Peeche Hum Khade, has been a piece of work that has travelled far and beyond. Every time I’ve played a gig, it’s been a song that has been on my set list from the beginning to now. A lot of people have made covers of it, and a lot of people are playing it. And it seems to have become a part of their lives. So yeah, I feel like that song is quite special.

Considering the success of your latest work in Gully Boy, what was the experience of overseeing the music of a film like this unfold?

Working on Gully Boy was quite fantastic. I was working with very young kids as well as older artists. It was just the will and the drive of these artists that was so inspiring. Regardless of their age, or where they come from, or their economic status, the drive and the honesty with which they approach their work…left quite a mark on me. I feel that it will probably have an impact on my future works as well. Just the integrity that they brought to their work.

What were a few of the things you wanted to achieve and/or establish through the 18 tracks in the album?

Through the album of Gully Boy there was only one thing we were trying to achieve — to stay authentic and honest to the craft and the story as much as possible. We were not trying to create something that would resonate with everyone or even be a hit. We were just trying to create songs that were honest and stay true to the artist.

What was it like collaborating with this plethora of virtually untapped artists during the making of the music of Gully Boy?

I’ve been working in the independent music scene since forever! Like ever since I started making music. And, it was just like being at home, working with everyone. I had worked with a lot of these artists before as well. It was exciting to work with them, knowing that this work will be heard and seen by a lot more people and their work will be experienced by a lot more people this time. Earlier, in the independent scene, you only went that far and its exciting that now this work will be seen and heard by many more.

How have you managed to stay true to your sound over a decade-long career?

I have been playing for over 10 years now, and the main thing that keeps me going is that I find a medium to express how I feel. And that’s what I’ve tried to do in all my songs. Whether they were written for someone else, or if they were written for me, I always try and express myself. It’s almost like therapy for me.

What other experiences are you looking forward to in your career?

I’m really looking forward to working with more artists. Artists from around the world, and artists who come from a completely different zone. Maybe they won’t even speak my language! But it will be really interesting to tap those minds.

If you were to describe yourself as a musician in one phrase – what would it be?

If I were to describe myself as a musician, I’d probably say, “a storyteller trying to tell a story.” Or rather, “a storyteller, trying to tell a story, honestly.”