The name Raghav Mathur aka Raghav may not ring a bell instantly but if we were to tell you that he is the man behind those classic dance tracks such as 'Angel Eyes' and 'Can't Get Enough', you surely would be able to find a connect. Raghav is now back in the news for the pulsating track 'Ishq Shava' sung by him for none other than Shah Rukh Khan in the recently released Yash Chopra romance- Jab Tak Hai Jaan. It's his first Bollywood song and he couldn't have asked for a better debut. Speaking from the US of A to Bollywood Hungama's Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Raghav talks about how he bagged 'Ishq Shava', his experience working with the maestro A.R.Rahman and what he feels of the current Indi-pop scene. Read on...
First things first how did you bag 'Ishq Shava'?
It's a pretty unbelievable story. I had a meeting lined up with A.R.Rahman and I went to go see him in Mumbai. I thought it would just be a casual meeting and a chance to catch up with A.R. But when I arrived, he asked me to sing a few lines. He then played out 'Ishq Shava' and asked me if I would be interested in singing this song. It's just that simple how we got started on the song.
This is your first song in a Hindi film... didn't you ever get playback singing offers prior to this?
I have received offers even prior to this for singing in Bollywood but this is probably the first track that made real sense. It's always been a dream of mine to work with A.R. and I would have been ready to work with him in any capacity. Never thought that after just a 5 minute meeting with him, I would be recording the track that very evening.
What was Rahman's brief to you?
He just asked me to be free. The wonderful thing about working with A.R. is that he encourages you to be completely free and as original as possible. He just encourages you to be yourself.
What was your reaction when you knew that you would be singing for Shah Rukh Khan in a Yash Chopra film with music by A.R. Rahman?
It just went from being great news to being the greatest news as not only was I recording with A.R.Rahman, I was also singing for Shah Rukh Khan and that too in a Yash Chopra film. It meant a great deal to me to work with such a team for my first Bollywood song. I haven't yet got a chance to watch the film as I've been travelling but I am looking forward to watching it soon.
Your first album 'Storyteller' really was a smash-hit with songs like 'Angel Eyes' and 'Can't Get Enough' but post that we haven't heard that much of you especially in India. Why so?
The pop music industry in India (Indi-pop) looks like its completely wiped away which is rather unfortunate as it was a fab avenue for a lot of new artists. Bollywood music is wonderful no doubt but you do need other forms of music as well. Music and Art only grow whenever there is healthy competition with newer avenues. I hope the opportunities for pop artists opens up once again for artists like us to compete in a mainstream environment.
But you did come out with 2 more albums namely 'Identity' and 'The Phoenix' post your first album, isn't it?
Yes 'Identity' in fact did release in India but 'The Phoenix' hasn't released in India and that's part and parcel due to the fact that pop albums don't really have the same impact that they used to once upon a time in India.
Are you open to more playback offers in Bollywood?
Absolutely. For a long time I avoided it as I thought it was important for the first chapter of my career to be a pop artist but now I am looking forward to working on a lot of Bollywood projects. I need to wait and watch what happens. I have song called 'Fire' from my new album 'The Phoenix' which is coming out in US in January. I've been shooting a video for that in Montreal last week. I am actually working on some other international projects as well.
Finally are you cued in to the Bollywood music scene? Any soundtracks that you have liked in the recent past?
Rather than soundtracks there have been a few composers who've caught my eye. Of course A.R.Rahman is right up there and for me I strongly believe there's been no one who's done the kind of work that A.R. has done with respect to the Indian music scene over the last 15-20 years, He is a pure genius. There is Amit Trivedi who is quite special and brilliant and is someone I'd like to work with. Of course being a fan of Bollywood music, Salim- Sulaiman are two guys who seem to really understand the emotional aspect of Bollywood music.