The Delhi based boys from Midival Punditz – aka Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj who laid the foundation for eclectic Indian electronica, have a 20-year-old roster boasting of performances with everyone from Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale to Alicia Keys and Norah Jones.
They have four albums to their credit and more in the making. It’s been a while since their last joint effort, but their last album, “Light” which, as the name suggests, is brilliant. Gaurav embarked on a solo sojourn with his act Grain in 2012.
As a DJ, who plays cross-genre, experimental sets and explores new scenes and sounds, Grain’s music flows from Electronica to Indian Electronica and Drum and Bass to Dub step. His credentials in Bollywood also name him as the composer of background score for movies such as Dum Maro Dum, Karthik Calling Karthik, Don and Soundtrack and has lent his music to Hollywood projects such as Closer (movie), 6 feet Under (HBO), Prison Break (Fox) & Monsoon Wedding (movie).
In an in-depth interview to Verus Ferreira Gaurav Raina spoke about his solo work, his association with Midival Punditz and the future of Electronica in India.
There was no concept of electronica music in India when you and Tapan started out. Now the genre has become one of the most heard and popular genres around the world. How do you feel about it?
India is in a very interesting space at the moment. There’s all these new styles of music coming from overseas and also from the new bands that are coming up all over the country. I think ultimately it’s a call that lies with the audience, as to what kind of music they want to listen to, but at least they have varied options. The producers are making some very edgy and interesting music with collaborations and mixing up genres. India could very well be on the global music map, if the numbers increase with the people who make the music, alongside the people who consume it.
Do you have a new album after the last Midival Punditz album ‘Light’?
Yes, we are currently working on our new album. Tapan and I took time away from Punditz after 15 years and needed to focus a bit on our personal stuff.
Which Indian musician, besides you and playing electronica do you think is the big ticket in the Indian electronica industry?
There are a number of new Electronic Musicians who I feel have a lot of potential and are definitely ones to look out for. I would say Curtain Blue, Komorebi. I don’t really believe in ‘big ticket’ artists, as that is very short lived. I believe in artists who have a sure and steady graph.
Sometime back you released your debut album ‘Grey to Silver’ from your solo project Grain. Do you plan on a solo career in the future?
The “GRAIN” project came about, out of my personal desire to write songs and vocal tracks. Punditz have a particular aesthetic, that’s to do with Indian classical and folk. I’d been wanting to do English song-writing for a long time now. Starting to song - write music in English seemed the most logical progression for me. I wanted to do it solo because it’s a very personal and introspective space for me, and I wanted the ease of taking as much time as I want, in completing it. Going solo does have a couple of drawbacks, as its always easier to have another partner to bounce ideas off and also to help in production. Hence, I used the help of my friend collaborators who I trust and have a very smooth working relationship with.
What does the title signify?
Grey To Silver, for me depicts ‘beauty within imperfection’. I believe that everyone has a darker and deeper side to them which we carefully hide and disguise. Same is the case with me. I wanted to always explore that depth and darkness within me, and find the beauty in that and to find the silvery shine amongst the greyness. More like finding beauty in imperfection.
The sound of Midival Punditz is a fusion of electronica and classical. How would you define the sound of Grain?
The Grain sound is all about exploring a more emotional side of electronica. Electronica has somehow only seen as EDM nowadays and there’s so much more to it than that. I want to explore the many different emotional sides to electronic music combined with song-writing.
What has been the prime inspiration behind the lyrical themes you work on?
My music is full of interesting personal emotions, attached to me or, to the collaborators I work with, on the songs. At many levels these emotions have been really close to my heart and I’ve had to step into personal spaces alongside who I’m composing with. Whether it be a ‘breakup’ or just a ‘one-night-stand’, its been these strong emotions that have given life to my album.
What are the good and bad sides of being a solo artist?
I wanted to do it solo because it’s a very personal and introspective space for me, and I wanted the ease of taking as much time as I want, in completing it. Going solo does have a couple of drawbacks, as it’s always easier to have another partner to bounce ideas off and also to help in production. Hence, I used the help of my friend collaborators who I trust and have a very smooth working relationship with.
As someone who's performed internationally, which country do you think has a thriving electronica scene?
What music can we expect to hear from you in 2018? Anything new planned?
The new Grain 2nd album is at it’s final leg of completion and I’m looking at a mid-2018 release for that. I plan to continue to perform the new album and also keep writing new material alongside. I’m also in the middle of launching my new music label called ‘gravity sounds’.
Any message to emerging electronica artists?
Be honest and true with the music you write, always. Hard work and perseverance is what will get you somewhere in the music business. It’s all a matter of time before these things pay off.
Watch Grain perform live at the Sulafest, Sula Vineyards, Nashik this weekend on 3rd and 4th February 2018.