Sonu Nigam was in concert in Paris on october 24th. BNA-Germany had the opportunity to talk with him about the music business in India which is changing right now. Mireille Bausch held the conversation:
BNA-Germany: At first: Congratulations for the great Concert.
Sonu Nigam: Thank you.
BNA-Germany: A.R. Rahman protests against the practice in Bollywood that he has no rights of his creations, that only the film producers hold the rights. Do you have the same problems as a singer and what’s your opinion about that?
Sonu Nigam: Yes we have such problems and it’s basically not because of injustice, it’s because the private music scenario is just coming up, it’s just been about ten years. And it was just used for singing for movies and that was fine with it but singers like us, we wanna make our individual recognition and that is why the private music is coming up.
And when the singers come up with their own albums, with individual songs, not depending on any movie or cinema, then they have their own rights and we are approaching that time gradually.
But there is an immense amount of piracy in India, which is going to be bad for Indian music because when there is piracy there is less business, when there is less business people earn less, when they earn less they share less, so it’s a cycle. So when the piracy is gone then we can hope for an open business between singers, composers, producers and directors.
BNA-Germany: You just talked about it that once you only sang for films. Why do you think there is a difference in the treatments between actors and singers?
Sonu Nigam: The difference that as a singer , if you just depend on movie songs then you can not make your own identity as a celebrity.
You become a celebrity but you always get the second kind of treatment. Everywhere in the West or everywhere in the world, not just west but in the world, singers and actors and sportsmen are treated the same way.
In India there was a practice of only looking down upon the singers because the singers were only part of the background. Now the singers are coming up in the front and although we don’t have any good companies in India who are promoting good music. Really, essentially good music is not being promoted.
I’m talking about myself. I’m getting good work in India and outside of India. And when you get to work on your individual capacity that’s when you make your own individuality. That is why things are changing for me at least. In the last I’ve been pretty aggressive in that way.
BNA-Germany: Are you aware that you put together all cultures with your concerts? At your today’s concert there were not only Indians but also French people and even we from Germany?
Sonu Nigam: (smiles) I’m really happy, because I was told that lot of people who are not necessarily Asians would come to the show. But I didn’t really believe it because this happened too when I was went to America two month back and there we had a lot of Americans coming to our show who did not understand the language, who just knew that I was an Indian singer who sings well. They just came to see the show and enjoyed it.
So first it was a good thing, but I didn’t expect this to happen in Paris and I was actually hoping it, because I went to the Louvre, I went to so many places over here and people over here have a very good intuition towards art, they promote art, so why not music then.
You said that you’re from Germany so although we could not understand each others language we could interact through music. Music is a very very deep language which is close to the language of nature. Nature speaks in the fourth dimension and I think music is the only language that speaks in the fourth dimension. You can’t write it down but you can feel it. It’s just in the fourth dimension, so we all kind of interact in the fourth dimension through music.
BNA-Germany: What does music mean to you?
Sonu Nigam: Music means expertise to me. It gives me lot of pleasure, it gives me lot of happiness but I need to become an expert.
That’s why I always keep working at. I never take music lightly, I never take anything lightly. I mean if I’m dancing, I’m taking it seriously, if I’m writing something, I’m writing seriously, the same with composing.
So music for me is an expertise. I need to know everything of music, I need to listen to lots of music, I listen to lots of English music, to lots of Indian classical music and I get a feel of all kind of music. During the flights I just keep skipping channels, so I just get a feel of japanese music, I get a feel of oriental music, sometimes you get Irish music on the flight.
Music for me is an oral knowledge and expertise. I need to grow myself. That’s what it is for me.
BNA-Germany: In an other interview you said that you need more challenges. What do you mean by saying that?
Sonu Nigam: Sounds in India are very easy. The kind of music I’ve worked on, the kind of expertise I said, I’m training myself in very fast ways. I know there has been a change from what I was doing ten years back to what I’m singing today, because of my practice, because of the way I grow myself. For that there are not enough challenges. So when I make music I do something to make it tough.
I just did a song in America for the movie called “Hope and a little bit of sugar”, a crossover movie with a lot of American artists and Indian artists. So I made the music a bit tough for myself, so that my vocal skills can be challenged.
So it’s like someone who can run 100m in 9 seconds and you ask him to run in 1 minute.
BNA-Germany: Well you said that you were happy that so many people came here. Would you come back and especially come to Germany once?
Sonu Nigam: Of course! I performed in Frankfurt twice in fact. Last time I came to Frankfurt was 6/7 years back.
But the thing is, we need to have promoters like Patrick. What Patrick did, he did not just targeted the Asian/Indian audience. The hall was magnificent and he also targeted the people who did not understand the language and he build up an interest fact because he knows that I’m not just any singer. I’m not just a famous singer from some country. People over here should know that when they come to listen to me they get to listen to real music, raw music. It’s not recorded music, it’s not something which is done in the studio and a bit of leg shaking. I’m not shaking my leg and pretending that I’m singing. We give them real music. So I’m sure musicians from all the countries are interested to see music of the other world and in listening to music from all over the world.
Germany is a great country, I know, there are lots of musicians and it’s a rich musical nation, much richer than India. I feel Germany is very very rich in music and they train their kids, in school they get to learn music. I know - so why not, some day maybe.
Next year is next year.
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