I'm not afraid of making mistakes: Raghu Dixit
For somebody who has taken indie alternative music to international shores and even performed for Queen Elizabeth II, Raghu Dixit is surprisingly modest. DEEPALI DHINGRA chats with the microbiologist-turned-self-taught-musician who tells her about the difficulties his band faced in the initial years, his love for performing for an audience and about being intimidated by other musicians
composer singer, and songwriter, Raghu Dixit is truly a rockstar who’s taken his brand of desi music to all corners of the world. But the two things that come across during his interaction with us are his humility and sense of humour. For somebody who in his teens, learnt to play a rock song on the guitar within two months to win a bet against a college friend, Dixit has come a long way. He insists it’s just the beginning.
You recently tweeted that it was a dream come true to perform for MTV Unplugged.
Yes, it’s something I’ve been dreaming about for many years now. It was around the time I started playing music that the Unplugged cassettes of Eric Clapton, Nirvana and some other wonderful bands were released. I was completely amazed at how these musicians who had created such beautiful songs completely broke them down to create a different sound and still sound so beautiful. Having grown up on that, to actually play for MTV Unplugged Season 3 was like a dream come true for us. I enjoyed every moment, right from sound-check to dressing up to actually finally shooting the episode. The icing on the cake was that the channel allowed us to bring our fans to the gig. That really made it truly special.
You completely enjoy performing in front of an audience, don’t you?
Absolutely! The very reason I make music is because I enjoy the thrill of being in front of an audience and getting that instant gratification. And brickbats at times (laughs)! But yes, it’s an amazing feeling to play for an audience and see that the song is being enjoyed and everyone is singing aloud and reacting to the song. What can I say? It’s a feeling of joy that nobody
Growing up in your hometown or working in Belgium as a microbiologist, did you ever think you would one day be a household name as a musician?
I still don’t believe it’s happening. After all these years, I feel it’s just the beginning. Now I have to live up to whatever name I’ve earned. I have to prove that my second album is as good as the first one, be consistent, perform well and compose something new everytime we compose. The first album was a trial and luckily for me, it worked out great. But the real test begins now. For example, when we recorded for Unplugged, I felt we could have done much better. So such reality checks are necessary and it’s important to build on those and get better. The way I see it, and I keep telling everyone, is to believe that whatever we’ve done till now, has been a great exercise and now, we have to put that practice into action.
There must have been some difficulties along the way?
We truly believe our music belongs to the whole world and is not restricted to the country we were born in. Initially, we did find it hard to even break even. We spent a lot of money travelling abroad. But then, we got to perform at festivals other bands have only dreamt of performing at. That way, it’s a great achievement, but has taken a lot from our band, both financially and physically. Hopefully, in a year or two, we can tap the market in a bigger way and whatever we have invested will all come back to us. But the journey has been fabulous. We’ve learnt a lot. These are exciting times and we’re truly kicked about what lies in store for us.
Has being a self-taught musician worked to your advantage?
There are two sides to it. Since I’ve not been trained by any particular school of music, I have absolutely no boundaries. I’m not afraid of making mistakes or what others might perceive as mistakes. On the other hand, because I’ve not learnt music, I’m also intimidated working with musicians who know music theoretically. For me to meet a musician, who knows his theories inside out and to talk in a language that I would have loved to learn but never did, intimidates me. It’s quite interesting that every musician leaves a lesson behind for me to learn and that’s how I picked up music. I don’t have any regrets about not learning music, but I dread the time when musicians intimidate me with their knowledge, or when I have a thousand notes in my head and I can’t reproduce a single one through my music.
What’s in the pipeline?
We’re doing a Bollywood film called Bewakoofiyaan, directed by Nupur Asthana. We worked with her earlier in Mujhse Fraandship Karoge. Then our second album is releasing in November, so I’m very, very kicked about that. We have also been selected to play at Celtic Connections festival in Scotland
And to think your musical journey started with a bet against a college mate.
(Laughs) Yes, it was so silly. Look at what it has done to me now!
Are you still in touch with him?
Yes, interestingly, he’s a father in a church now. We’re good friends. We laugh about it every now and then.
You should be giving him commission…
Not commission, but I send him my love (laughs)