SINGER AND COMPOSER VISHAL MISHRA REVEALS ALL
by ASJAD NAZIR
ONE rapidly rising star putting his stamp on commercial Hindi film music is singer and composer Vishal Mishra.
The naturally gifted artist has been connected to music from a young age and used that talent to work his magic on diverse cinematic projects, including hit songs for 2019 films Kabir Singh, Notebook and Jabariya Jodi.
With more high-profile projects on the way, Mishra is part of an exciting future for film music. Eastern Eye caught up with him to talk about music, inspirations and more…
What came first, the singing or the composing?
I was in a state where I couldn’t afford lyricists, composers or singers. I used to love singing and listened to a lot of English and Hindi music. Since I couldn’t afford a music director, I started composing my own words. I did everything on my own because of the lack of opportunities and people around me. Now I enjoy doing everything, but like composing more. But being able to convey something through your voice is also a good feeling. I play 22 instruments and my voice is one of them.
How much has being an accomplished singer helped you with composing?
The thought never crosses my mind while making songs, but it helps a lot. A singer is the face of a song. I’m so glad people like my voice and connect with it.
It’s a conscious effort to do songs that mean a lot to me and are soulful. I don’t make songs for the sake of making them. I really enjoy bringing composing and singing together.
Which of your musical projects have given you the greatest joy?
All my musical projects give me a lot of happiness, but I think Kaise Hua is a song that has given me maximum satisfaction. People understood the right intent of the song and that’s why it was loved. I hope that love continues to flow in for my work.
With Bollywood doing so many songs, is the biggest challenge to find something new?
Bollywood is such a script-driven industry that you are bound to find new things. And if you really explore, there is newness in every second. You are not what you were five seconds ago. Artists are blessed to live thousands of lives in just one life because you always get a different character to follow. When I was making music for Notebook, I felt I was a part of Kashmir. While working on Kabir Singh, I felt I’m a medical student who is madly in love. This applies to all the projects I’ve been part of.
Do you have a set process of working?
My total attention is on making music that satisfies my soul. There is a lot of music to be made. I’m exploring widely and think it’s the best time to make indie music. I’m doing that, plus a lot of film music. I’m being able to manage both, which feels beautiful. I’m in a great phase and I want to go on. The process is that I’m making music 24-7.
Where do you draw your inspirations from?
To get inspired and to learn is the only thing I know. I consciously make an effort to learn every second and become a better person. I keep imbibing things from the people I meet and music I hear. I get inspiration from all around me.
Can you tell if a song will be a hit when you record it?
Nobody knows the formula to a hit, but you feel it. There is a certain joy you get from doing a good song and hoping people will like it. Obviously, as a human being, you would feel bad if it doesn’t work. But with me, the kind of love that I’ve been getting, I feel my instincts have been right. I just hope this goes on.
What do you think about the trend of remixing old songs?
I don’t have any view about it. I think it’s a good thing, everybody gets acclaim again and there’s an instant connect to it. There are some songs that were not noticed back then.
When old songs are recreated, royalty money goes to them, which is a good economic circle. I feel that I am not skilful enough for doing any kind of recreations. (Laughs) I hope I continue to make original songs that somebody can recreate later.
Which composers do you admire the most?
I admire everybody that I listen to because there is good and bad in everybody and both are important. You should know what to do and what not to do. New or old, everybody is like a teacher to me. On a personal level, I’ve always associated with RD Burman and Jagjit Singh. I have a lot of love for Hans Zimmer’s work. I love Yani, a lot of Latin composers and music Prince used to make.
Can you see yourself ever working in the west?
I want to make a lot of music and represent my country. Music from the west is appealing. I would love to do r’n’b, hip-hop and soul with an Indian tinge. There is a lot of music in the sub-continent which needs to go out and that’s the plan. I want to collaborate with artists and create something new with different cultures. People like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Bhimsen Joshi Amd Bismillah Khan saab have done it successfully. I feel music is music only when it’s collaborative.
Who would you love to work with?
Everybody who inspires me. I would love to work with Taylor Swift and John Mayer.
What music dominates your own playlist?
A lot of r’n’b, soul and young underground artists. Also, a lot of Latin and retro Hindi music is a must. My playlist keeps on changing because I listen to different kinds of music from across the world.
If you could master something new, what would it be?
The art of making music, because it’s the most unpredictable art and so divine. Music is a divine thing and the notes are already there. God helps you to get guided and reach a point where you find a song. Creating melody is a process that’s guided by god. I want to get love from people for my work.
What are your big passions away from music?
I used to love cricket, but now, I don’t do anything apart from music.
Why do you love music?
Everyone loves their life. Everyone wants to preserve it, cherish it and make it better. Music is my life!