If you don't like it, we don't care, says Hidayat Khan

Updated: Jul 15, 2019, 08:52 IST | Sonia Lulla

Sitarist Hidayat Khan says his line up of songs is created to resonate with music listeners, not for monetary benefit

If you don't like it, we don't care, says Hidayat Khan
Sitarist Hidayat Khan

Sitarist Hidayat Khan describes his legendary father Ustad Vilayat Khan with words that are anything but conventional. "He was a bit of a nomad; a maverick [who] was constantly sort of a contradiction. He kept challenging us to break tradition. A family that practices classical [music] can typically uphold a mindset that is fixated on music. In traditional music families, sometimes, schooling is also not promoted because it can [be a distraction from music]. But dad always told us to go out, have fun, go backpacking and experience life. He told us to imbibe everything that we could learn from the world."

It is possibly this habit of experimenting that enabled the sitarist to create a track, Back Seat Bass, that blends a bass duet with the sitar, along with his band, Vinyl Kut.

The making of this distinct number was inevitable, he says, given that the band comprises musicians skilled in different sensibilities. "We are whimsical and not scripted. We were jamming with the sitar and bass, and went about having fun. That's when we realised that these two [sounds] have not been featured together. So, we decided to go ahead." Their casual and fun-filled musical banter led to the making of 12 numbers that they will release, one every month.

Khan doesn't care for commercial benefits. "If you like it, great. If you don't, we don't care. It's just masti," he says, quick to point out that the aim with his creations is to make his numbers as relatable as possible. "I like to see where my songs can go without having a 'good vision'. The chemistry [I share with collaborators] outside the studio, is important. If I can have a drink and enjoy [my time] with someone, I want to make music with them."

The long list of names he doles out when chronicling his upcoming slate of projects is testimony that he has been drinking with a lot of people. Having arrived in India yesterday, he will collaborate with "a young pianist" (no names taken), and has a project underway with Shweta Shetty. Back in the US later, he will tour with the band Musafir before he works with jazz musicians later in September.

Considering the little time he has at hand when his musical endeavours aren't occupying him, Khan has far too many interests to cater to. "I like tennis, car-racing, and fashion. All the interests [that one harbours] should inspire his music." He draws us back to another life lesson taught by his father when highlighting how he embraced diversity. "He'd say, 'When performing on stage, regardless of who is sitting before you, always perform like an Ustad. And, when listening to someone, listen like a student, whether the performer is an Ustad or a five-year-old."

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