Indian Fusion music sensation Raghu Dixit is set to headline the cultural evening during the regional ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2018. Dixit's music is an amalgamation of Indian ethnic music and styles from different parts of the world. He returns to Singapore once more, having performed during the Kalaa Utsavam 2014 in The Raghu Dixit Project’s first international outing.
“Our music is rooted in Indian culture and yet at the same time presented with a very contemporary sound and style. So it’s not just about a couple of songs that fit the theme, but the sound of the band itself,” Dixit told Connected to India.
His band, The Raghu Dixit Project, was one of the performers at the ASEAN India Music Festival 2017 in the Indian capital of New Delhi and have played many shows all over the world including in the United States, the UK, Korea, Japan, Russia and Hong Kong and India, including the Glastonbury Festival and for Queen Elizabeth II of England and Prince Philip, at a Diamond Jubilee Pageant marking 60 years since her accession to the throne in 1952.
Dixit, and The Raghu Dixit Project, are best known for taking ancient Kannada poetry and presenting it around the world with a contemporary, global sound. From their melodies to their rooted and earthy sound, they have become a stellar example of modern India. They are also known for rocking the lungi look, with the garment having become a signature of their performances.
Believe it or not, Dixit worked as a scientist in a pharmaceuticals company in Belgium before switching careers to become a musician. He has a masters degree in microbiology from the University of Mysore.
In an exclusive interview, Connected to India (CtoI) asked Raghu Dixit about his return to Singapore, his opinion on ASEAN India ties and about his upcoming performance.
CtoI: You’ve performed at the Kalaa Utsavam in Singapore in 2014 and at the ASEAN-India Music Festival 2017 as well. What’s it like being invited back to the city and what are you looking forward to the most?
Raghu Dixit: We had a fantastic time in Singapore at the Kalaa Utsavam, that was easily one of our most memorable shows. In fact, one thing that might surprise most of you is that our first ever international gig as The Raghu Dixit Project was in Singapore for the Kalaa Utsavam more than a decade ago! We love playing to the audience in Singapore and we can’t wait to be back.
CtoI: India and ASEAN share multiple cultural links. How is that reflected in their music styles, and do you plan to showcase this at the PBD?
Raghu Dixit: Our musical style is an amalgamation of influences from around the world and not just the ASEAN. And you will certainly see it on full display when we play in Singapore.
CtoI: Can you give us a sneak peek of your performance at the PBD? Which songs do you think fit the theme of the event – Ancient route, new journey?
Raghu Dixit: Our musical style itself completely embodies the theme of this event. Our music is rooted in Indian culture and yet at the same time presented with a very contemporary sound and style. So it’s not just about a couple of songs that fit the theme, but the sound of the band itself.
CtoI: In your many performances all over the world, what has your interaction been with the Indian diaspora? At an event like Glastonbury, how many of your fans are of Indian-origin?
Raghu Dixit: It’s very different in different parts of the world. In the UK, most of our audience is non-Indian, while in the US, and many other parts of the world, we see a higher percentage of Indians. We have a great equation with our Indian and especially Kannadiga fans around the world. Everywhere in the world we go, we have been treated with great love and made to feel right at home with many fans who have hosted us in their house and others that have brought home cooked food to our shows so we don’t miss home.
CtoI: Looking back, could you tell us something about your switch from microbiology to music? What are your plans, both personal and for The Raghu Dixit Project, in the near future?
Raghu Dixit: That switch was so long ago, I don’t know if there is anything left to say about it. I am finally looking forward to taking a well deserved break to go back to basics and work on myself and my music. You can expect some brand new music coming out from the band and the movies that I am working on over 2018.
The Indian High Commission is making special efforts to engage the younger members of India diaspora for the upcoming PBD, and Raghu Dixit's fans should take the chance to watch him perform live.