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Sunday, February 5, 2023

B’wood, independent music turning brothers: Vasundhara Vee

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Powerhouse vocalist Vasundhara Vee, who is one of the finest blues, jazz and soul singers in the country, feels that Bollywood and independent music are becoming brothers now.

Vasundhara has made her film OST debut for the Kangana Ranaut starrer ‘Dhaakad’s title track. Her strong soul style with Hindi lyrics perfectly compliments the strong woman played by Kangana bringing the music at par with international reckoning.

In an exclusive interaction with UNI, Vasundhara talked about the future of independent artists, jazz, how to stay relevant with time and lot more.

“I think the industry has changed a lot. When you see the statistics of Spotify etc., you see that people are listening to independently released music a lot now.

“OTT platforms have come, web series are being made, in which all sorts of independent music are featured there.

“Now, Bollywood and independent music are becoming brothers. It’s not one against the other and I feel this is going to make entire music industry much richer in terms of content, style, and also artists finding a feasible future — a career that makes good money,” she said.

As an indie loyalist, Vasundhara found an appropriate space and function for her vocal identity within the Bollywood arena, on her own terms in a track that celebrates feminine resilience with ‘Dhaakad’.

“I believe that I am lending my voice to a character. Just like in “Dhaakad”, the character was a strong woman, similarly I would like to serve more such strong women characters. And that is more important to me than getting to sing for an actor,” she added.

Vasundhara’s venture into singing for a Bollywood OST on her own terms is a testament to her grit and commitment to her own style of singing, as she does not believe in compromising her musical identity to fit into commercial cinema tropes.

“I have been singing jazz and blues for about 15 years now and I have had a beautiful time growing as a jazz singer in this country. I have known many people in Bollywood for many years, but I was not interested in doing the typical Bollywood thing because it was not part of my style, and I didn’t wanted to change myself.

“So that is why for 15 years I didn’t do any of that work. And finally a song came that wanted my style, my voice and that is why after so many years I actually did something in Bollywood.”

The Mumbai-based artist has been among few jazz vocalists synonymous with the revival of R&B, Soul and Jazz into live circuits and bringing it back to the playlist of today’s youth in the country.

“These days people listen more to singles. Now a days, since everything is based on playlist, people get connected to one song. And that is just maybe the sign of the time. In two-three years albums will be the main thing again,” she said.

Vasundhara further said that the best way to stay relevant with time in music is ‘if you are true to yourself’.

“You will always be relevant, if you are true to yourself. Audience is only waiting to feel something when you do something. When we are true to ourselves no matter what it is, people are going to listen, if it is an honest piece of music,” she said.

On her thoughts on remixes, Vasundhara said, “If it is a way of celebrating an old song, that is nice. But it should not be a way to dilute the old songs and make something diluted. There are many remixes that have been good in the past, but what I don’t like is if the remix is not good, if it’s not doing service to the music, and if it only being done just to milk the trend.”

Talking about a trend she likes in the industry right now, she said, “I love that Bollywood is becoming very open minded.

“I love that they are looking at independent artists, folk artists, every kind of artist is being featured in OTT platforms and this is a very big move for Bollywood. I am also very happy that regional rap has become the part of mainstream. Regional rappers and poets are getting good career prospects now.”

When she is not seen regaling the audiences as a part of the finest Jazz, R&B and Soul outfits in the country, in the capacity of both collaborator and soloist, she’s pursuing her passion for music education which has found a permanent home in the ‘School of Voice’ and is known as one of the foremost Voice Optimisation Coaches of the country. She is also writing the curriculum for classes 9 to 12 in the Delhi Government schools.

“Delhi Government has made a decision to make music a mainstream subject, including full Hindustani classical music and western music. They have also included entrepreneurship, filmmaking, software development. ‘Global Music Institute’ is doing the music and arts programme, and they have selected me to write the curriculum for class 9-12th, and also to train teachers to teach this curriculum,” she said.

“We are developing the curriculum already but a lot of work is yet to be done, like testing etc. Delhi Deputy Chief Minster Manish Sisodia is in close contact with ‘Global Music Institute’, and we are working under their direction on how to structure it properly,” she said.

Vasundhara’s last release was a stunning pop-soul video single titled ‘Run’. She has also written a book titled ‘Big Dreams, Bold Choices – Handbook for emerging professional musicians in India’, to help young professionals create a durable foundation for their music careers.

Also, the sound palette Vasundhara creates has been adopted by many leading fashion designers. She has performed for and been styled by Ravi Bajaj, Ashish N Soni, Suneet Varma, at their fashion shows and has also performed at the Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week Finale.

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