This week we’re featuring a fledgeling artist, Azaan Khan whose just launched his debut album ‘Philosufi’ under Saregama records. Azaan comes from a renowned gharana with his grand-father Ustaad Vilayat Khan and his father Ustaad Shujaat Khan both being renowned sitar players. Alongwith his Indian classical training, his exposure to western genres of grunge, blues, jazz, drum & bass and dubstep has created an interesting milieu, which he expresses through his fantastic voice accompanied by the guitar or piano. He also attended the renowned KM Music Conservatory setup by A.R Rahman and has even collaborated with the famous composing duo Salim-Suleman.
To check out a few tracks of his album visit:- http://soundcloud.com/soulsearching/sets/azaan-khan-philosufi/
LBBD | How would you describe your early forays into the journey of music that you’ve undertaken? Also how you dealt with finding your own sound considering your rich family heritage and its contribution to Hindustani music, particularly the sitar?
Azaan | Well in my early days I wasn’t very musically inclined, I never showed a particular interest in the family instrument or in music in general, I was a normal cricket playing school going kid. When I finally started learning the guitar, which was in 8th grade, I started finding my own sound almost immediately, and started writing and composing about 6 months after starting to learn. I believe that music is music, and everyone finds different ways to express themselves, some through the sitar, some through guitar or piano etc, at the end of the day its all music. Coupled with the fact that my father never forced me to learn sitar, I think it was easy to find my own sound because I had nothing to worry about, it was a full creative outflow from my musical genes.
LBBD | What about some of the artists, genres and sounds that inspire you?
Azaan | Well my tastes keep changing, I go through musical phases. When I started learning guitar, the first genre I got into was grunge, and the first band I really followed was Pearl Jam, their raw intensity and Eddie Vedders voice makes pearl jam my favorite band till date. Further, I got into blues and jazz, I heard a lot of BB King, and much older blues by Duke Wellington. Off late I’ve got into drum and bass, trip hop, artists like Blockhead, Squarepusher and Flashbulb blow my mind. Other then that, the one one person who really inspires me is my father, simply because I love the way he lives his life so simply and humbly, it’s what I want to live like.
LBBD | How was your experience at the KM Music Conservatory?
Azaan | It was a wonderful experience to say the least. I think theres a fine line between learning/ teaching music, and trying to understand music. What the conservatory does is it makes an environment where you are constantly within the world of music 24 hours of the day. So, it opens your mental faculties consistently and strongly. You’re learning theory subjects in the day, practical subjects in the afternoon, concerts in the evening, jamming with bands at night, practicing in the middle of the night and then the morning comes again. I think thats the kind of world you have to live in to be a true musician, so that your creative brain never switches off.
LBBD | What elements have gone into your album PHILOSUFI? What is the unique space in the music scene that your music tries to capture?
Azaan | Philosufi is a very different album, people who listen to it can’t quite classify it in a particular genre. Many different elements have gone into the album. In the broad perspective, its sufi tunes and lyrics with complete western instrumentation. I know that has been tried before, but i think i might have taken it a step forward, by trying to blend it with jazz, drum and bass and dubstep, grunge and other western genres i have been influenced by. Whether it be the dark, stark feel of akhiyan moree tarse, or the suprise jazz saxophone solo in the mostly tradition “saavan beeta jaaye” the album from start to finish is full of detailed elements according to the exact sound I wanted. I think the biggest difference between this album and the rest of the commercial music happening nowdays is THOUGHT. People dont put enough thought into their music nowdays. Of course while writing the songs I put in a lot of thought. But interestingly the brainstorming continued into the recording studio, with everything from ethnic middle eastern string instruments, to hardcore live drum and bass being added to the tracks. So i think thats the biggest difference. I am not doing this for the sake of money or fame or concerts etc, I’m making music like this because I believe in honest intelligent music.
LBBD | What are your plans to build upon your album for the rest of the year?
Azaan | Well you know how it is in the industry, one never knows which direction they are going to take, doors keep opening and closing all the time, so I have no set plans for the rest of the year. As of now, the album will be played by a band named Philosufi, and we will be touring with that band in different parts of india to spread the joy of our music, hope that people enjoy it. My eventual aim is to become a music director in bollywood, I want to do that simply because I believe that this is a time for change, and the younger generation has had enough item numbers and remixes to irritate the next 5 generations to come, so i want to make big changes in that scene. It might take long, but thats my goal.
LBBD | Describe your relationship with Delhi and your surroundings; how have they influenced your music and its elements?
Azaan | Delhi has always been special, its a beautifully green city, I’ve been living here all my life and I call it home. Although the creative industry is much more strongly placed in bombay, everyone in Bombay is always in a rush and busy, and involved with their own work. I think because Delhi works at a slower pace, the people here have learnt how to appreciate life and the creative arts, I think the cultural heritage sites like red fort, old fort, humayuns tomb, hauz khas village etc are beautiful places to see, there is culture everywhere for people who want to notice it. In short, I love delhi, it inspires me. When I’m in Bombay, I get into work mode, when I return to Delhi, I get into creation.