Tuesday, 4 September 2012

In Conversation With Mili Nair

Mili Nair - A singer trained in western music who shot to fame in the music industry surely doesn't need an introduction. She has won accolades for singing Amit Trivedi's composition - Badri Badariya on MTV Coke Studio. Mili is a stylistically diverse vocalist interested in, and influenced by different musical genres. She has a First Concert Certificate, The Bronze Level in choral music from the Trinity College of Music London and a Grade 7 from the Royal School of Music London, all of which she has passed with a Distinction. She has also completed the Grade 8 examination in singing with the Royal School Of Music London.

  1. When did you start singing?

    => Before I started to talk, I used to hum tunes with ease. Perhaps I was a little more than a year old then.

  2. What is your first memory of being inspired by music?

    => Music was always a part of my household. My parents were always interested in Music. It was a part of our daily life from the time I can remember and I was lucky to listen to a wide spectrum of genres from a very young age. So I guess I can say that music inspired me at a very early age.

  3. What is your fondest memory of music in your childhood?

    => As a child I loved Christmas for the carol singing that we did. My fondest memory of music as a part of my life is of Christmas when I was 14 and I got to sing in the best Children’s choir at NCPA hall in Mumbai. I still look forward to sing carols because it’s such a community activity. Then there were National competitions in school that encouraged music a lot! Come to think of it I was extremely lucky to be in a school that took music and children with talent very seriously. That helped me imbibe a discipline in music that’s helpful even till this very day.

  4. When did you realise that music is your true calling and it’s time to take a lead?

    => I realised it was my true calling as such when I was in college. There was a rock band I was a part of and then I started learning jazz. I got various opportunities to collaborate with big musicians in India who were doing jazz. So when the big opportunities came by and the response was phenomenal I decided that it was music for me as a career.

  5. How did you get initiated in jazz?

    => Jazz is something I picked during my formative years in the country and abroad. I got an opportunity to perform live with jazz guitarist and composer Vinny Valentino at the Java Jazz Festival 2009 in Jakarta. One thing I like the most about jazz is that you can break a structure, and there is a lot of scope for improvisation. I found that jazz music opened another world completely.

  6. Generally musicians pursue one single genre but you are influenced by different genres. How did that happen?

    => I have been extensively influenced by jazz, Soul and R&B. I love experimenting with different genres of music. Then of course I have studied Carnatic music as a child and with Bollywood music all around I guess that’s a perk of being in India. You get to hear so much!

  7. Which vocalists, jazz or otherwise, influenced you while you were growing up?

    => There are so many. Freddie Mercury of Queen, Bruce Dickens of Iron Maiden, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Sting, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chitra, Remo Fernandes. It’s a vast list and I can go on and on but these are the names I can remember now.

  8. What are the new projects you are working on?

    => I have written two songs and I am looking forward to collaborate with various musicians. The songs are based on our own experiences in life. I am hoping the album will release sometime next year. I am now gearing up to make a mark as a song writer.

  9. How did it feel to get a chance to be a part of Coke Studio?

    => Personally it was all a very very new experience for me, the lights, cameras and all but I was at home when I had to just Sing my heart out with an Amazing bunch of musicians and a Brilliant Composer. It was a WONDERFUL opportunity to work with Amit Trivedi! It still feels surreal. I feel happy and blessed to have sung on 2 of his beautiful compositions. :)

  10. How has Coke Studio changed your life?

    => At this point in my life, to be associated with MTV and Coke Studio is actually a big deal. What Coke Studio is providing is a great thing for India to witness, to know that something apart from the mainstream music is actually happening in India. And to be a part of it is like a fantasy fulfilled. 

  11. My personal favorite is Badri Badariya. Tell us something about the song.

    => This song has the most extreme contrast of notes and as a singer it was a challenge. Working with Folk artist Mame Khan was a blessing! What a voice! This song is all about fresh romance, it depicts love during the rains. On how no one can escape the feeling of romance in the air!

  12. Also tell us something about the song Yatra.

    => Yatra is a song that talks about the ultimate journey of life. It’s about the dreams that move you forward while the memories keep you rooted.

    It’s got a pop-rock feel but it also has influences of Africa in there. It’s an amalgamation of genres and it has been merged together just to see that it seamlessly flows.

  13. How was the experience of working with A.R Rahman? 

    => A defining moment was when I was called by him for the Telugu film Komaram Puli and Raavanan. It was a great experience!

  14. How hard is it for the budding musicians to enter the industry?

    => Pretty hard actually. But with Youtube, Facebook and other social mediums it’s easier now for musicians and songwriters to get their music to a wider reach and if that does well it will definitely get noticed by music directors who want new voices. There’s also some luck required! 

  15. Who is your favorite jazz musician?

    => Can’t name one so I’ll name a few who are my favorites. There’s Ella Fitzgerald, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock to name a few from a very large list of favorites!

  16. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

    => That my voice brings happiness to people! That is the greatest reward!

  17. Of all your own songs, which one is your favourite?

    => I’m in the process of writing my own songs and will release them soon. Otherwise I have loved singing on Amit Trivedi’s composition Badari Badariyan for Coke Studio@MTV Season 2.

  18. Owing to the fact that you are married, tell us about how easy or how difficult it has been for you to manage time with both of your professional and personal life? 

    => It’s a great journey. Music has become an inoperable part of my life. But it hasn’t been without hard work. I am married and my husband Hamesh is also a musician and that is an added advantage. In fact he’s my biggest support system. Yes crazy schedules and work keep us really busy most of the time but we both are doing what we love and respect each other’s profession and lives. 

  19. What advice would you give to other musicians trying to get off the ground?

    => I would just say that it’s important to improve and focus on your strengths. Believe in Yourself, believe in your music and the rest will follow!

*Her projects include working with A.R Rahman, Harris Jayaraj, Deepak Dev and Amit Trivedi.
*She has sung on numerous advertisements, which includes the Maaza campaign for Coca Cola.
*Her recent work for Harris Jayaraj's Hit 'Rettai Kathire' is currently topping the charts in Kollywood.
*Mili has also sung for India's Leading Dj, DJ IVAN for his First International Release "Music Is My Life"
*The remixed version of 'Aaja Aaja' in the movie 'Ek Main Aur Ek Tu' has also been sung by Mili. 

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