The Toto Sessions #2: Prateek Kuhad
Our second Toto Funds the Arts graduate is Prateek Kuhad, a singer-songwriter who is shaking up the indie music scene. Applications for the TFA Awards are open till October 7, 2016.
Even if you’ve just barely dipped your toes in the Indian indie music scene, you’ve probably heard of Prateek Kuhad. Since his beautiful debut album In Tokens & Charms in 2015, Prateek’s star has been steadily rising. From performing across the world to singing on a Bollywood soundtrack, he exemplifies how the sands are shifting. He is at the vanguard of an indie music scene that is more and more becoming a force to be reckoned with. Following are excerpts from an e-mail interview.
If you’re a musician (or a filmmaker, or writer or photographer), Toto Funds the Arts is calling for submissions for the 13th annual edition of the TFA Awards. More about the awards here. Scratch that, just go straight and apply here. Today (if you’re reading this on October 7, 2016) is the last day they’re accepting submissions, so don’t miss your chance.
Can you tell us a little bit about the journey that led to you becoming a singer-songwriter?
I got into songwriting seriously around the age of 18, and since then it’s just always been a huge part of my life. Songwriting started off as an emotional outlet and a way for me to express my feelings and eventually I realised that I would be happiest just doing it all the time :).
Nice! I wasn’t there for the ceremony this year but the past year was well organised. I played a solo set at the humming tree which the TFA folks had organised and that was great as well.
Nice! I wasn’t there for the ceremony this year but the past year was well organised. I played a solo set at the humming tree which the TOTO folks had organised and that was great as well.
What music influences your style? What current artists do you listen to and identify with?
Folk finger style guitar playing really influenced my songwriting for a long time. I’ve lately been listening to all kinds of music - alternative, electronic, hip-hop, pop - and I’ve also started writing on the piano more. Elliott Smith is one of my favourite songwriters ever and pretty much the reason I started writing songs in the first place. I was also really influenced by Nick Drake’s songwriting.
The independent music scene in India is growing slowly but surely. Yet, there aren't enough incredible initiatives like TFA to give artists a platform and encourage them to forge a career in the arts. What do you think that is down to?
I think it will take time. We’re a developing nation and there are so many other priorities that a country needs to get to first like basic for security, education and healthcare. India has a unique demographic where part of the country are very cosmopolitan and I think the arts are slowly being supported a lot more there. In the other parts, which are economically a lot more backward we need to first resolve the basic economic issues and then the arts will flourish on its own.
Where can fans hope to see you next and how do we keep in touch?
Finally, our favourite and far-too-morbid question - you've been unceremeniously banished to the gallows and graciously granted a playlist of five songs to listen to before the end. Name the 5 songs you would pick?
1. Kaytranada - Bullets
2. The Lumineers - Angela (The whole album is incredible)
3. James Blake - I Need A Forest Fire (ft. Bon Iver)
4. Chance the Rapper - Blessings
5. Sufjan Stevens - Should Have Known Better