“Nature inspires me to create soulful music” – Nilesh Ahuja
In the last few years, Nilesh Ahuja has delivered some of the biggest hits in the non-film music space. The composer, who rose to prominence with his super-hit single ‘Thoda Thoda Pyaar’ in 2021, has delivered quite a few hits since then. ‘Tumhe Chahte Hai’, a single composed by Nilesh, was released by the label 121db Records recently. Apart from composing and singing the song, Nilesh has also featured in the music video.
In this interview, the young composer talks about his recent release, his journey in the music industry, moving from Delhi to Mumbai, collaborating with lyricist Kumaar, being inspired by the mountains and more.
‘Tumhe Chahte Hai’ has been composed and sung by you and written by Kumaar. How did you end up featuring in the music video?
This is actually the second time I am featuring in a music video. Years back, I had done a song for Crescendo Music called ‘Saajna’. I had featured in its music video as well. It was good to face the camera after a long time. When you feature in your song’s video, it helps in building a stronger connection with the audience.
Do you look at ‘Thoda Thoda Pyaar’ as a turning point in your career?
Absolutely! I got a lot of recognition through that song and it led to some good opportunities as well. A lot of people know me because of ‘Thoda Thoda Pyaar’.
‘Thoda Thoda Pyaar’ was made during the lockdown.
Yes! I had the tune ready and I shared it with Kumaar paaji. He really liked it and wrote the lyrics quickly. We shared the song with Anurag Bedi sir and he decided to release it under Zee Music Company. He got Sidharth Malhotra and Neha Sharma on board for the music video. It started receiving a lot of love as soon as it came out. At the moment, the official video has more than 500 million views. It was one of the popular songs of 2021 and became a love anthem in no time.
You are from Delhi. While your father and brother have been engineers, your mother was a teacher. You used to visit movie theatres frequently with your family and got attracted to music by listening to film songs.
That’s right! Every week, I used to watch a film in a theatre with my family. The songs and the background score in my mind for a long time. I got further attracted to music when I started attending musical concerts in Delhi. I graduated as a B.Com student. After that, I decided to pursue music as a full-time career.
What kind of training you had in music?
I was in the sixth grade when I started playing the tabla. I took a few sessions over a period of time. After that, I trained in vocals. I also did a course in music production and sound engineering.
You came to Mumbai in the year 2014. You worked with Reliance Jio Studios for a while.
Yes, I worked with them on several projects. I did the background score for one of the seasons of the Indian Premier League. Later, I did a lot of work for Nita Ambani ji and Akash Ambani. I scored the music for several short films, travel videos and jingles for the company.
Did you face any challenges while trying to look for work in Mumbai?
Initially, it was quite difficult. I used to make songs regularly and make music labels listen to them. For somebody who comes from the outside and does not know anybody, the struggle lasts for quite some time. It takes a while for you to build your base and build a strong network. If there is something unique about you or your work, it will get noticed. Once the audience starts accepting your work, things become much easier.
You have stated that lyricist Kumaar has been a mentor to you in Mumbai.
Yes, Kumaar paaji is one of the most prolific lyricists in our country and he has given me a lot of support in my journey. I have released a couple of songs with him already and many more will come soon.
You have said that nature inspires you to create music. Do you prefer creating tunes in a studio or while travelling around?
A lot of work happens in the studio. Sometimes, I jam with a lyricist and a song gets created. I love being around mountains. Nature inspires me to create soulful music. Whenever I go to the mountains, I take my keyboard and laptop and create a bunch of tunes. When I come back to Mumbai, I produce or put together the arrangements for the songs. Every three months, I travel to a new place.
Has there been any musician, in particular, who has inspired you?
From the singers we have today, I really like Arijit Singh and Atif Aslam. A. R. Rahman sir has always been an inspiration. I have been a huge admirer of the Greek composer Yanni. I have extensively studied the work of Hans Zimmer.
Do you plan to compose for films soon?
Yes, I am in talks for a couple of films. I have recorded a few songs for Zee Music Company. Some of them will be released as singles and some will be used in films. I am working with multiple labels and planning to release some music independently as well.
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