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“Every independent artist is an entrepreneur” – Chirag Todi

In a very short span of time, Chirag Todi has carved a niche for himself in the independent music space in India. The guitarist–songwriter discovered his love for music at a very young age and kept working towards honing his craft over the years. Chirag has released several singles independently. ‘Jag Jaage’, his latest single on which he collaborated with singer and composer Nihira Joshi-Deshpande, came out last month.

In this interview, the Ahmedabad-based musician talks about his newly released single, his journey as a musician thus far, collaborating with artists, working with A. R Rahman, juggling between two careers, plans for the future and more.

You collaborated with Nihira Joshi-Deshpande on ‘Jag Jaage’. You came up with a chord progression and that inspired her to compose a melody around it. You collaborated with several other people on this track.

Yes, we have a lot of talented musicians on board. You can hear live instruments like sarod and drums on this track. The track was very new for all of us. We came from different backgrounds and created a fusion by putting all our sensibilities together.

How did this collaboration happen?

Nihira reached out to me on Instagram. She had heard some of my music and had liked it. She suggested that we should work together. We had a discussion on the kind of music we could collaborate on. We have very different styles. Nihira comes from an Indian classical background and I have not explored that space too much. I have a background in jazz, funk and western. ‘Jag Jaage’ is actually my first Hindi release. I had been wanting to make songs in Hindi. I saw this as an opportunity to bring my understanding of jazz and rock into an Indian space. Nihira has a wonderful voice and is a fabulous singer. I wanted to work with her to understand how Indian classical melodies can blend with jazz harmonies. We got to learn a lot during this process.

The lyrics for the song have been written by Sreenath.

I have worked with Sreenath in the past. He is a phenomenal drummer and a poet. This is probably his first release as a lyricist. We have known each other for a very long time. I used to learn rhythm from him. One day, I reached out to him to write lyrics for the ‘Jag Jaage’ melody and that’s how he came on board.

You are based in Ahmedabad. Did you ever think about shifting base to Mumbai where a lot of work happens?

Nowadays, everybody is on social media. You can follow artists on Instagram and message them when you wish to collaborate with them. Most of my collaborations have happened through Instagram. Sometimes, I travel to cities, meet an artist and work with them in person. However, most of the initial discussions take place online. I started my solo project during the lockdown. At that time, everybody was spending a lot of time online. I started interacting with other artists and collaborated with them. It became easier for me to reach out to a lot of artists. The lockdown played a key role in these collaborations taking place.

I do feel the urge to come to Mumbai every now and then. Living in Mumbai makes a lot of sense. That’s where all the musicians are. Living in Mumbai makes a lot of sense. However, I also feel that if you understand the music business well and are creating good music, you can do it from anywhere. You don’t need to be in Mumbai to do that. An artist tours across the country and the world. You can be based anywhere. Traveling to Mumbai from Ahmedabad takes just about 6-7 hours. When I get a major project, I go there. I try to finish work during the weekend and come back.

Did you grow up in Ahmedabad?

I was born in Tamil Nadu. My family shifted to Ahmedabad when I was in high school. Since then, I have been living here.

You have a band as well.

Yes, I have a band in Ahmedabad. It’s called Heat Sink. At the moment, the band has six members. Whenever I perform live, I perform with a full band.

You have been a voting member with the Recording Academy for the Grammys.

That was a very interesting experience. I got the opportunity to interact with a lot of wonderful artists based in the US. I am a part of their New York chapter. Through online meetings and communities, I got an understanding of how the Recording Academy works in terms of submissions and voting. That helped me get a broader perspective on how to approach my music career. Earlier, I was doing it based on what I saw happening in India. Now, I know where I stand globally. It helped me work with a more global approach.

You have a degree in Bachelor of Science. You have worked as a quality analyst with a company. Later, you worked as a manager with Lux Industries. When and how did music come into your life?

I was always passionate about music. I finished my education and took up a job in the corporate sector. I knew that the first 5-10 years of my career as a musician would be filled with many ups and downs and therefore, I would need to secure myself financially. A lot of musicians have family support and generational wealth. I didn’t have that kind of backing. It is very difficult to pursue independent music without that kind of support. I need to keep doing a job to supplement my needs. That has also helped me become more consistent and organized in my approach. Currently, I am working as a marketing manager at Blockheads, a café in Ahmedabad where you can also listen to music on vinyl records. Apart from looking after the marketing of the café, I also curate the music that is played there.

What kind of musical training you have had?

There was a music teacher in our school. I got my first lessons in singing and guitar from him. Over the years, I learned from individual tutors. I never had the chance to go to a music school to learn music formally. However, I had the privilege of learning from several experienced musicians.

The guitar has been a long-standing companion in your life.

Yes! Guitar is my primary instrument. That’s what I learned first and I still play it. Everything else is secondary for me.

As per your LinkedIn profile, enterprenurship is one of the things you are interested in.

I believe that every independent artist is an entrepreneur. You have to understand the business and have entrepreneurship skills to be able to mobilize and sustain yourself as an artist. You have to do things like pitching for gigs, negotiating with clients, and managing your accounts on your own. Being an entrepreneur is essential for pursuing independent music.

You collaborated with A. R. Rahman on a project. How was that experience like?

One of my first compositions, ‘Volition’, won an award in the Nexa Music contest. It was declared the best English language song in the country. That’s when I got the opportunity to work with Mr. A. R. Rahman on a new song. Mr. Clinton Cerejo was the producer on those songs.

Do you plan to compose for films?

Yes, I am open to doing all kinds of projects where I can contribute musically. I have done a lot of shows in India. I want to start touring abroad as well. I will continue releasing singles and wish to put up more albums every year. I want to offer my services for advertisements, films, television and web show. I am working towards achieving all my goals.“Every independent artist is an entrepreneur” – Chirag Todi

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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