A Man, His Music and Muse
Vocal for Local: Performing Arts
Kashmir Images has started an initiative, as part of India’s Vocal for Local campaign, of collecting inspirational stories from across Jammu and Kashmir, bringing to the readers fresh perspectives about solo entrepreneurship – successful only when practiced with persistence and conformed with patience.
Adeela Hameed, as the ground reporter and interviewer with Kashmir Images for this project, converses with Rauhan Malik, a professional musician from the Valley. Rauhan currently works from his studio in Noida, pursuing music − artistically and passionately. He aims to revive traditional Kashmiri music through his innovative ventures, working solo and with a shoal of other artists − both Kashmiri and non-native. His collaborative music video, Jhelum, released recently, received a grand response from all around the world.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
You’ve been making music for quite some time now. What inspired you to follow the performing arts?
I have been interested in music from a very young age. It all began with banging doors and utensils until finally I found my vocation in it. I saw music in everything and everything inspired me even more towards it. It has been, and still is, my vocal power. What inspired me to pursue music was Kashmiri culture. I have been listening to Kashmiri music since my childhood and after I found my soul with it, I began my journey to revive our culture, our tradition. As I dived in further, I noticed, Mashallah, a lot of other artists have the same aim as well.
Apart from music, what are you currently pursuing?
I am pursuing my Bachelors in Performing Arts from Delhi apart from being a full time official musician.
Gaining a considerable fan-base at such a young age must have been exhilarating. Has public opinion/attention modified your approach towards music?
What bothers me is finding the right bridge between going artistic − which I love, and being a commercial musician − which people love. Yes, of course I want to perform keeping in view music as an art but that doesn’t always fit well with the audience. Public opinion does matter when drafting a new piece because a musician does want people to love their work.
Talking about a fan-base, I really didn’t have an immense support starting out. Although there were some who liked my work. I like to consider myself a struggling artist. There are many things I want to try out, many wondrous projects that are yet to be explored. I am not a star but a curious learner!
What, in the next 10 years, do you see yourself doing?
I am not sure what I’d be doing in the next 10 years but I hope to pursue my doctorate in music. My aim is to learn music, in all its entirety, not to be a star. Becoming a star is a matter of fate.
I’ve noticed Kashmir has been your muse, your mehviyat. This admiration is evident in many of your remarkable music videos. I want to know more about your idea of Kashmir. As an artist, what’s Kasheer to you?
Thank you for appreciating my work!
Kashmir, our Kasheer, has been a conflict zone for the past couple of decades now. As a result of which extremely talented Kashmiris remain under appreciated, with little to no exposure to the outside world. As I can’t express what I feel for Kashmir in words, the only way possible is through my music. Being part of, and growing up in, Kashmir revealed an important aspect of our culture to me which artists rarely find in many forms of music. And that’s melody. Kashmiri compositions are more melodious than other music forms. This helped me − apart from my immeasurable love for Kasheer − find my place in music, and my muse and mehviyat in Kashmir.
Congratulations are in order for Jhelum released a couple of weeks ago. The music video received a sensational response across the globe. Are there other projects you’re currently working on right now?
Thank you! We did, in fact unexpectedly, receive a sensational response from around the world for Jhelum. Why unexpectedly? As I explained earlier, it is difficult for musicians to find that connection between going commercial and being artistically inclined when making music. Jhelum fits in the latter kind. We had hoped our message would get across to the audience but that it would exceed our expectations commercially, is what we hadn’t anticipated as much.
I am working on a lot of projects right now, finding time between studying music and making my own to collaborating. I hope to see all to fruition.
The youth of Kashmir has an enduring charm and tremendous talent to showcase. As a celebrated professional, what advice would you give to musicians who are just starting out?
The most important piece of advice I would give to young musicians is for them to learn music. I really regret not learning music from the beginning. What everyone in our field just assumes is that all who love music or play an instrument are bound to become stars. Yes, people do become stars or are famous but anyone, who people love, can be a star. However, not everyone can be a musician. To be one, you have to understand music, learn from it. There’s a science, a technology behind it. With emerging times, music is drastically evolving from being natural to being technological.
When I came to Delhi, that’s when I started learning music, it took me about 2 years to figure out what to learn. Because there’s not a systemic process that people follow. Just knowing about music or learning chords doesn’t make one a musician. Unfortunately, many believe this misconception. Even I did when I was still studying back in Kashmir. But now that I’ve understood, I consider myself an aspiring musician, not a musician yet.
What our youth should do is that they should focus on learning rather than doing things irrationally. There’s a world of music to uncover, waiting to be unravelled!
What’s the motivation behind creating your own music?
What I’ve experienced, what my people have gone through, anything ranging from daily life to sensational news becomes my motivation. It depends on the perspective of an artist. Anything can be your motivation. I find value in and draft my compositions around what affects me and moves me.