Prateek Kuhad uncut: On his love for music, fashion and more

Prerna Mittra
Prateek Kuhad, interview, music, concert, Indian Express news

The singer, songwriter says he does not do anything special to stand apart.

I wish I could leave you my love,
But my heart is a mess. 
My days they begin with your name 
And nights end with your breath

Prateek Kuhad's music is like a cup of steaming-hot coffee on a cold, windy and indoorsy day; or a platter of cheese and a glass of wine on a particularly lonesome and pensive night. It is the kind of music that would play in the background like white noise as you course clumsily through life, gazing at the foreign city lights -- its lyrics occasionally drawing you with its saccharine thread of emotions.

Those who have discovered Kuhad -- a whopping 233K subscribers on his YouTube channel -- say he is not just a mood, but an articulate expression of all the emotions brought together in the gigantic mess that is life. A quick online search will tell you everything about this breakout musician -- originally from the city of Jaipur -- whose music has taken the world by storm. Kuhad has been hailed by Rolling Stone India as “one of the country’s leading singer-songwriters”.

His last album 'Cold/Mess' -- brought to life by the intensity of its lyrics and the electric chemistry between the leads Jim Sarbh and Zoya Hussain -- was received exceedingly well. But, it begged questions: how does a seemingly-reticent artiste manage to weave such magic with his songs?

As the singer, songwriter -- currently on his winter tour 'Supermoon' across major Indian cities -- sits down for a quick telephonic conversation with indianexpress.com, he talks about his process, his love for music and his personal fashion, among other things.

Excerpts

People often say that 'Prateek Kuhad' is a genre of music in itself. What do you have to say to that, and what genre would that be?

Prateek Kuhad (PK): It is flattering to know that people are saying that. But, I don't specifically write music to stand apart. It is just about writing good songs and putting in my best when it comes to recording the track and the production. It is about being serious about the kind of work that I do. And I am grateful that people are finding my songs unique.

Your songs often swing between love and longing and heartbreak, why is that? And what goes on in your mind when you sit down to compose a song?

PK: It's not like every song I have written is about heartbreak and longing, a fair number of them are. I think people just respond to that stuff, in general. You will see that the most popular songs tend to be sad love songs or party numbers. There are not many happy love songs. And most of my songs that are popular, are about heartbreak. The perception out there is that I only write about one particular thing -- that is not completely accurate.

And when I sit down to write a song, I write about whatever I feel -- sometimes it's a sad song, sometimes it is a not-so-sad song, it depends. Sometimes, I end up writing about something that is on my mind. Other times, I feel like just writing a song in general, nothing intense. I like writing songs and I want to get better at that.

Prateek Kuhad, interview, music, concert, Indian Express news

Prateek Kuhad will perform in Mumbai on December 18, in Bengaluru on December 20 and in Delhi on December 22. His tour is being presented under Zee Live’s Supermoon series of shows.

Some people time their romantic milestones -- breakups and proposals -- around the time of your concert. How does that make you feel?

PK: (Laughs) Do people actually do that? That is ridiculous. If they are doing that and are out there (reading this), please understand that it is extremely stupid.

You compose songs in both English and Hindi; which one do you prefer?

PK: I don't have a preference. I am fully comfortable speaking, thinking, writing, singing in both languages. It is pretty much the same thing for me. It is about the songs, not so much about the language.

How did music happen to you?

PK: I cannot recall a particular moment when I decided to take up music. It started in school as a hobby, and I was doing it for fun. In college, I started putting in more effort into it. It was only after I returned from New York after completing university, when I was 21-22, that I started doing it seriously and full-time.

One musician whom you idolize the most. 

PK: There are many... I am a big fan of (American singer-songwriter) Frank Ocean, as a songwriter. I like Kanye West's work. They are both very relevant and current. And one person I look up to, in terms of his entire body of work, is A R Rahman. I would love to work with him.

Your music videos tell beautiful stories of their own that match magically with the lyrics. What goes on in the making?

PK: It varies. Sometimes, I leave it all up to the director. In the Cold/Mess music video I was more involved. I had a pretty strong idea of what I wanted. I am not a filmmaker, but I knew I wanted emotions, the underwater scene; some conceptual and metaphorical ideas, that I gave to (writer/director) Dar Gai.

If we were to raid your closet one day, to understand your sense of fashion, what would we find?

PK: I don't really have an opinion of, or much of an attachment, to fashion, to be completely honest. I like to wear comfortable clothes and try to be presentable. Somewhere, I like colours in general, and maybe you will find some cool printed shirts in my wardrobe.

New York or New Delhi?

PK: New York, for sure. Delhi's pollution has really ruined it.

Your biggest pet peeve would be...

PK: I don't like the middle seats of the aircraft. If anyone stands really close to me, it starts to bother me. I like my personal space.