A Heart to Heart with Vandana Vishwas
Tell us about yourself and your music
I am a singer/composer specializing in south Asian expressive music genres based on North Indian classical music, but I enjoy collaborating with diverse World Music and Ethnic genres from around the world to create unique universal compositions. I have formally trained in North Indian Classical vocal music and am originally from India but settled in Toronto, Canada. I was an All India Radio and Indian National Television music artist before I left India. I have released three original full-length music albums and a single to date. I have won a few awards such as Mississauga Arts council’s Marty Award for music, US Independent Music Award – Vox Pop for best World Song, Global Music Awards – silver medal and a few more. My third album and its songs have topped RMR World charts for several straight weeks and have also topped the Canadian National Earshot International charts and have featured in Top 10 CMJ World charts.
Talk to us more about your latest release
The language of my works has generally been Hindi and Urdu, and my third and latest release ‘Parallels’ is not very different, except that it includes ancient Punjabi too, as written by 16th century legendary poet Bulle Shah. ‘Parallels’ represents my attempt at interpreting a single melody in two parallel genres, each resulting in a unique sound. I have 5 such parallel pairs, so a total of ten tracks in the album, featuring diverse genres as Flamenco, Rock, Ghazal, Thumri, New Age, Afro-Indian, African Beats, Ballad, Country including some unlikely sounds such as Chinese Erhu which I have used in traditional Urdu Ghazal. Lyrics are by great poets such as Bulle Shah and Jigar Muradabadi, whereas I have gathered courage for the first time, to pen down the lyrics for two songs in the album.
What inspired you to write this release?
My adopted hometown Toronto, Canada is a mini world as far as cultural and artistic influences are concerned. On any given weekend, you can be assured of catching a movie, a theatre, a musical or a food festival from any cultural or ethnic background that you can imagine. The musician and especially the curious experimenter inside me has always been in awe of the plethora of Ethnic and mainstream sounds this city offers, and I always wanted to explore all these wonderful genres in the context of my musical training which is in North Indian classical music. I started my quest with my second album ‘Monologues’, but did not go all the way through. It was more of an Indian music album with some foreign influences. So, I decided to take the plunge and collaborated with experts of various genres such as Johannes Linstead (Flamenco Guitar), Richard Henderson (Dobro), Tim Alan (Banjo), Ricky Kej (New age), Njacko Backo (Kalimba), Amelu Zhou (Chinese Erhu), Adam Langley (Rock Guitar) and some great Indian musicians to come up with these 5 pairs of parallel tracks.
Describe the writing and recording process
For all of the songs, my general approach has been to compose the song, set them in a tempo and rhythm cycle I found most suitable to the lyrics, and then introduced the raw melody to my collaborators, who spun their magical web to come up with their interpretation of the arrangement. Then we sat down and went through what works and what doesn’t, narrowing down to the final versions that got recorded eventually and yielded the 10 beautiful songs!
Any plans to release a video?
Any plans to hit the road?
I have a series of concerts planned throughout India until March 2020, after which I am returning to Canada for an eventful summer there.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
Honestly, I do very little or nothing to brand myself. I stay true to my forte, which is expressive music based in North Indian classical music, and try to do the best justice I can do to the given lyrics through my compositions and rendering. I do not try to stand out, but rather try to do my best whatever that does for me. My fans like the sincerity in my compositions and singing, and probably that is my real brand image.
Who have you been listening to lately?
Believe not or not, I listen to a lot of Jazz and expressive Western music. In terms of expressiveness, I am a huge fan of Carlos Santana for the way he makes his songs come alive through his guitaring!
Who are your biggest influences?
In context of Indian music, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, the two legendary singer sisters, iconic composers such as SD & RD Burman, Madan Mohan, Salil Chowdhury, and Ghazal greats such as Jagjit Singh and Mehdi Hassan have been my biggest influences. In context of Western music, I have been greatly impressed by Michael Jackson, George Michael, Simon & Garfunkel and Billy Joel, in context of World music, I have been influenced by Egyptian artists Hisham Abbas and Amr Diab, and in terms of World music, Carlos Santana has done to Latin music what I want to do to Indian music in the international scene.
Tell us about your passions
When I am not creating or performing music, I like traveling and solving Sudoku puzzles.
What else is happening next in your world?
I am traveling a lot and exploring new musical genres everyday.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Vandana Vishwas
Connect with Vandana Vishwas
Website: https://www.vandanavishwas.comFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vandanavishwas.ArtistpageInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/vandanavishwasTwitter: https://www.twitter.com/vandanavishwasYoutube: https://www.youtube.com/vandanavishwasvideosSoundcloud: https://www.soundcloud.com/vandanavishwasReverbnation: https://www.reverbnation.com/vandanavishwas
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- Website: https://www.vandanavishwas.com