Musician Ankur Tewari on his new album ‘Akela’ and the convergence of Bollywood and indie music

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At a time where Reels have reduced the act of listening to music to a matter of seconds, and the duration of a song has come down to two to three minutes, musician Ankur Tewari has brought out an eight-minute-long track in his latest album Akela. Through Akela, Ankur hopes to express a musical kaleidoscope of love, loss and dreams.

In a conversation with The Hindu, Ankur says he believes that music transcends the construct of time, and the purpose of it is to make people feel free.

“I feel one should not think in minutes; one should think how music makes one feel,” he says. “Sometimes, a 45-second song can be laborious and boring, and a 20-minute piece can just transform you. I feel artists should think in feelings rather than just numbers,” he adds.

Born in Belgium, and raised in India, Ankur is a master of many trades in the music industry. He is a singer, songwriter, music composer, music supervisor, and the lead singer of the band The Ghalat Family. His music is often referred to as “acoustic guitar-based poetic ballads with hummable melodies.”

Having worked on Bollywood films likeGully Boy andGehraiyaan, and the recently-released Made in Heaven, the musician is also someone who constantly strives to bring the aesthetics of indie music into mainstream Bollywood.

Ankur Tewari

Ankur Tewari
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Not differentiating between different kinds of music, be it independent or in a film, Ankur feels the indie space in India has evolved, and the movie industry has embraced independent music much more now. “We are in exciting times. I feel that the gap that existed between indie music listeners, and people who were not open to listen to any music outside of films, has now diminished; the stage is open for everyone to perform.”

His excitement talking about the increasing indie space in India is palpable. He continues, “It’s exciting to see that an equal number of movie songs and independent songs are ruling the music charts.”

Earlier when independent artists made music for films, he says, he used to feel like a sell-out, but now we can see many crossovers where artists who hold mainstream positions also release their work independently. “This means the industry has become more inclusive,” he smiles.

With the release of Akela, Ankur collaborated with Apple Music in spatial audio. Talking about the collaboration, Ankur says it was a one-of-a-kind experience. “My album Akela was born out of the pandemic when I was stuck indoors, and the sound that came out during that time was cinematic and expansive. It’s an investigation piece on relationships, and dwelling on loneliness.”

“When Apple Music approached me for a collaboration for spatial audio, it was very exciting because it feels like you’re in an amphitheatre, with a movie-like experience.”

Ankur feels the spatial audio made justice to the sounds of Akela. “It really blends in with the sound.”

He also became the first artist to perform at Apple BKC in Mumbai. During the performance, he made a joke saying he was going to put it on his resume that he performed at an Apple store. “Many years ago, when I was walking on the streets of London, I saw a musician perform at an Apple store there, and I asked myself why this does not happen in India. Last week, I performed at the store; so there you go!”

Ankur Tewari

Ankur Tewari
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

He adds that there are different parameters that define success for different people. “For some people, success is defined by the background scores and collaborations, and for some people, it’s the numbers on various platforms. For some people, it is trending on social media, and for some, it is sleeping with a smile on their faces at night.”

The conversation then moves to being vocal on social media, and Ankur says he does not believe in separating the art and the artist: “It’s a democracy, and I feel being vocal about issues will give voice to the voiceless, and it’s good to be in a room with people having different opinions.”

Meanwhile, on the work front, Ankur has many projects in the pipeline, including The Archies directed by Zoya Akhtar, and Kho Gaye Hum Kahan directed by Arjun Varain Singh. “There is also the second season of Coke Studio Bharat, and I’m also working on a project with Amazon Prime,” he concludes.

Akela is currently streaming on all music platforms

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