I've been listening to Pt Ravi Shankar since high school: M. Ward

Feb 24, 2013, 08:55 IST | Sanjiv Nair

Says M. Ward, renowned singer-songwriter, producer and one half of celebrated indie pop and folk duo She & Him, who will perform in India for the first time alongside Grammy Award-winning artiste Norah Jones

Acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer and one half of celebrated indie pop and folk duo She & Him, M. Ward will perform in India, supporting Grammy award-winning musician Norah Jones on her maiden tour of the country. The musician shares his experience while collaborating with Jones and his love for Indian music. 

What are you most looking forward to while travelling to India?
It is my first trip to India so I am excited to meet the locals and hopefully see a tiger. From a distance.

M.Ward will mainly play songs from his last three records — A Wasteland Companion, Hold Time, and Post-War during his Indian tour 

Are you familiar with any popular Indian music?
I’ve been listening to Pandit Ravi Shankar since I was in high school. I have a lot to learn about the latest music being made in India now.

Can you tell us more about your recent album? How much of a departure is it from your earlier music?
I recorded A Wasteland Companion in about half a dozen studios across America and Europe. Part of the idea behind the album was to have a record that travelled around the world absorbing ideas from different places and people in the same way touring does.

Which bit of your musical avtars do you find more fulfilling? Is it the solo song writer, or collaborating with other bands and artistes?
I love all of it equally. They are all equal components in the same machine, and it feels good when they are operating in balance.

The indie music scene seems to be producing some of the most incredible music. Yet it is not as popular as it potentially could be. According to you, what is the problem?
I think distribution is definitely a big problem outside North America and Europe. But I don’t really know why. Record labels like the ones I work with (Merge Records, Bella Union) don’t have the size to have offices and executives in places like Brazil or India.

How did your collaboration with Norah Jones come about?
She sent me an email about five to six years ago asking whether I would be interested in working on a record with her and so I was a guest on her Not Too Late record. We got along well and toured the world in 2007 for about five months. The closest we came to India was Turkey so it’s a great pleasure to finally make it to India with Norah.

Could you tell us the most unique aspect of collaborating musically with Norah ?

She is one of the greatest singers in the world. Her voice is an instrument that can blend with any kind of music.

What can fans at the gig expect from your performance?
I will mainly play songs from my last three records A Wasteland Companion, Hold Time, and Post-War.

You had mentioned that you don’t particularly like ‘playing for shows too much.’ That was in 2009. Do you think that opinion has changed?
I’ve always enjoyed playing shows but I’m the kind of person that needs sizable breaks between tours — mainly to recharge and figure out new material or cover songs.

Finally, any message for fans and people who will be coming for the gig. 
I invite everyone to come with an open mind and see what happens. My band and I are very excited to see India.

Who are your favourite artistes?
My favourite contemporary artistes are mainly artistes that I’ve worked with in the past: Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, and Rilo Kiley.

M.Ward will perform with Norah Jones in Mumbai on March 3 at Turf Club, Mahalaxmi  

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