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In conversation with Violinist, song-writer and music producer Ajay Jayanthi.

We had a chit chat with Ajay Jayanthi, who spoke to us about his entry into the music space, why he picked violin, his inspiration, his music and lastly his message for upcoming artists.

How did your begin your journey in the music industry?

A couple of friends in college wanted to put a band together and I was the only guy who could play the violin. Wasn’t good at it, but that was where it started. One thing lead to another and more and more people wanted me to play with them.

Any specific reason why you picked the Violin?

I’ve got a lot of Carnatic classical musicians in the family. Amma’s a vocalist and an All India Radio A grade artist herself. She was apprehensive about training me in Carnatic classical vocals because with men, there’s always a fear that their voice might not be really suited for singing after puberty hits. So I was taught the violin for a bit. Never really liked going for violin classes as a kid. The day seemed to slow down for that 1 hour and my poor teacher had to put up with my indolence. I tried my hand at many different instruments and thoroughly enjoyed learning them. But somewhere around my 11th grade, I started liking the sound and the versatility of the violin and decided to get back to it.

What makes Ajay Jayanthi as a musician special?

I’m still trying to figure that out. I guess what works for me is that I listen to so many different genres that I can blend in with any form of music. There are plenty of violinists out there who are much better than me as far as skill is concerned. I have indeed been very lucky to get so many opportunities and from such a wide variety of genres. A lot of musicians I know are biased against a particular genre or form of music. To me that’s weird because every genre has a certain situation, time and an emotion that only that particular genre can portray.

How do you reach out to the masses with your music?

For me up until now it’s been more about playing shows for them live. Sure you could listen to the songs on mp3 but non-musicians especially might not be in a state of mind to listen to it the way you want them to. But when they’re at a gig, they’re in the atmosphere that you want them to be in and conveying whatever it is you want to through your music becomes way simpler. The next best way I feel to do it is through videos.

Which has been your best composition till date and why do you pick that?

This song I haven’t released yet called ‘ek kadam’. A friend and a very good poet I work with who goes by the name of Kunal Singh Chauhan sent me these beautiful lyrics one morning and we composed a song around it in a day’s time.

You are also a song writer and a music producer. How do you multi task? What do you like doing the most?

I think that’s the best and easiest part of my life. I have so many things to choose from. If I’m not in the mood for something, I can switch to doing something else. As a kid, I noticed that I get bored with things very quickly. Life so far had pretty much been a fight against boredom. Music is such a vast field that it doesn’t give you an opportunity to get bored. Now I’m almost always looking for more time to work in a day. I don’t prefer doing one thing over the other. Outside of work and regular practise, I like practising the violin with amma. I like playing percussions if I’m jamming with musician friends. I love producing music and experimenting with new sounds at night when everyone else is asleep. Basically it’s different things in different settings

You’re a part of popular Indian bands. How do you go about choosing the bands you like to play with?

I have to be sold on the music to get into it and do a fair job myself. Then there’s the part where I actually have to figure out if there is space for me in the band. The violin as an instrument isn’t loud and can’t cut through heavy arrangements unless the songs are designed to make it possible. I have jammed with bands where the folks really wanted me to play but the band sounded so full that it didn’t really feel like I was bringing anything new to the table and so I didn’t work with them despite the fact that I really really liked their music.

Is there a band you want to be a part of and waiting for the perfect opportunity to do so? Is yes, which band and why?

Remember Shakti. Their music was study material the first couple of years I started seriously learning music haha. Still is. Every show is different and I hope that someday, I will be able to match up to their level of musicianship. Especially U Srinivas. I was extremely saddened at the news of the maestro’s untimely demise. He was in my list of dream collaborations. Another artist I would absolutely love to collaborate with like most Indian musicians is A. R. Rahman. He’s pretty much been my biggest inspiration as far as music is concerned

Any project in the pipeline that you want to tell us about?

This year for me is mostly about going back to the fundamentals, polishing my violin-playing, revising music theory and revisiting some old collaborations that, for some reason, never got released. There are quite a few new projects in the pipeline and some that I started working on a year ago. One such project about to release soon is this single that I produced a couple of months ago for Shubhangi Joshi’s composition. There’s also a small series of acoustic tracks that I’m working on for web release. After Anand Bhaskar Collective’s launch of the second album, Paradigm Shift is also all set to release a new album this year. Also a couple of Hindi films that I had the opportunity to work on are set to release this year.

Your message to upcoming and aspiring violinists

Focus on technique, form and expression right from the beginning and listen to all forms of music with an open mind and it’ll become really easy to find inspiration in anything.

Read the magazine interview here:

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