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Bangalore’s Grammy Fame Ricky Kej gets Hollywood offers now (Interview)

By Natalia Ningthoujam

Bangalore-based musician Ricky Kej, who was honoured with a Grammy Award, says his home country is not the main market for his music. He is, however, ready to compose for a Bollywood movie if the script moves him emotionally.

His 2014 release “Winds of Samsara”, for which he won the Best New Age Album trophy at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards earlier this month at Los Angeles, debuted at number one on the US Billboard charts.

The album became popular in the US much before he walked home with the prestigious golden gramophone.

“We remained in the top 10 for 12 weeks and it is one of highest selling instrumental albums of 2014. Even on radio, we debuted at number one. So, the album was already extremely popular before the Grammy nomination.

“About sales in India, I am not aware of any of the figures because India has never been a primary market for my music,” Kej told IANS in an email interaction.

He has been vocal about piracy affecting the artistes in India. Suggesting what can be done to curb it, the 33-year-old said: “I think two things need to be done — the anti-piracy laws that exist need to be enforced very strongly and awareness needs to be created that piracy is not a victimless crime. The victim is the artiste.”

The Grammy-winning album, which spotlights the musical, cultural and political connections between India and South Africa from late freedom fighters Mahatma Gandhi to Nelson Mandela, is a collaboration with South African flutist Wouter Kellerman.

This certainly isn’t the end of collaboration between the two musicians. “I definitely plan to do another collaboration with Wouter. ‘Winds of Samsara’ was a fantastic debut collaboration. We have not started recording the new one nor do we have a theme in mind yet. But we hope to release the album in 2017,” said Kej, who has 12 albums under his belt.

He promises that the new album “will be a heavily orchestral project and much more ambitious than ‘Winds of Samsara’ “. If all works out as planned, the composer, who enjoys genres that involve fusion, cultures and exotic instruments, will also get a chance to work with Hollywood filmmakers.

Asked if post his Grammy win, he was approached by any Hollywood filmmaker, he said: “Yes, two filmmakers.” He says Hollywood interests him as he loves “working on scores involving large orchestras. In terms of score, one can draw from personal experience and emotions to create beautiful melodies, which work with the film”.

But that doesn’t mean he has shut the doors on the Hindi film industry. “I would definitely do a Bollywood movie if the script connected with me on an emotional level because then my music would be truly from the heart,” said Kej.

He is also impressed with the rise of electronic dance music in the country.

“EDM is a great form of music. The tools to make this form of music is available cheaply and you are limited only by your imagination. I have listened to some of the EDM music created in India and I think it’s excellent,” said the musician, who grew up listening to rock music. (IANS)

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