Music to our ears
The terribly nice Nisschal Zaveri is a Music Composer, Songwriter, Singer and Performer. Nisschal's recent work includes the title track of Howard Rosemeyer's 'Jia Aur Jia’. His composition Jia O (Sung by Rashid Ali and Jyotika Tangri) is a reprised version of the golden track 'Jiya O Jiya' sung by the timeless Mohammad Rafi. Read as he talks about his career.
What's your background in music? How did you get started?
I have been classically trained in Hindustani Classical Vocals. I am currently training under my guru, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan of Kirana Gharana. I was introduced to music at an early age, where I started training with VP Mishraji; this was a combination of Indian classical as well as light music, bhajans, ghazals, film songs, etc. I composed my first song at the age of 13. Later, I went on to do a foundation course in Western Classical Piano in Chennai followed by Music Production from Los Angeles Music Academy where I graduated with the President’s Roll of Honor.
How would you describe what you do?
I am primarily a Music Composer and honestly, it is a fun-filled job. Every day I go to work thinking about the crazy tunes I am going to create today or think about geeky stuff like the latest music technology, gadgets or just get to sit on the piano and play all day.
What do you have planned for the future? What projects are you currently working on (that you can talk about) and what are you hoping to accomplish in the New Year?
It is extremely important for a musician to be free of thoughts and connected to nature. Music composition is entirely an internal process where you look inwards to come up with a piece of music. Too much planning would spoil the organic process and make it difficult for the creativity to stay fresh. I am in talks with producers and directors to showcase my work. There are a few exciting projects; songs, background scores, in the pipeline which will soon be revealed and shared with everyone.
What is the piece of music you are most proud of?
I love each and every composition that has been released. It is important to be happy with what you are giving out to the public. I am extremely proud of Na Jaa from Jia Aur Jia and also my first single Tham Jaa is very close to my heart.
What were your musical influences? Who are your favourite songwriter/composers and why?
I strongly believe in having teachers and gurus to guide you throughout your life. I am still a student of music and will continue to do so forever. Having been trained in Hindustani music, I am influenced by it as I believe it is the source or root of all other musical forms. Western music also leaves a mark on me, specially the old classics or something fluid like Jazz. Unfortunately, there is little that I am drawn to in the contemporary music world. Being a composer myself, I always try to create a piece that is deep and that touches the heart, not something that is only fluff on the surface.
What’s a typical work week like?
Work week includes studio hours 11am to 7pm. There is always a dedicated composing time. There’s practice time which is on priority list. I do have to dedicate some time for my studio, ENZY Studios, chores and management as well.
What is the most challenging thing about this profession?
I think when you are lucky enough to choose a profession of your choice, even the challenges are fun. Music is such a deep subject which requires constant perseverance and dedication. But that’s not the issue for me as I practice at-least 3 hours every day apart from the composing that I do too. On the flip side, one of the hardest things about my job is to go to the producers or directors to sell my music. Every song is created with such deep thoughts and emotions that it is extremely uncomfortable, but necessary, to pitch a song so that it can be released and presented to the world.
What do you think the difference is between writing a song and composing?
Composing a song is essentially creating the melody of the song on which words are put. Sometimes people remember the tune of the song but not necessarily the lyrics. The tune that they remember has been created by the composer. Lyrics are the actual words that are written on the song depending on the situation given by the director of the film. It is a fine balance of the tunes, words and the vocals which finally is decorated with music arrangement which completes a song. Only the tune without words is one of the purest forms of music. When people go to a sarod or sarangi or sitar concert, there are no words but people still instantly connect to the sounds and the compositions. That is the power of music.
Can you give us a little more insight into how you compose – i.e. methods you use, how things come to you – maybe something on the nuts and bolts you use to compose (eg. equipment used etc.).
It’s important for me to be totally void of any thoughts and stress before sitting down to compose. While composing, I build from sometimes something I have hummed or I’ll take a few notes that I like together and build from that. It is different every-time and it ultimately turns out that many of the things I play or compose are discarded by me - I am my own biggest critic. Sometimes, a few days break is required before I take a call on a piece. It helps with refreshing my mind. Those are the dreadful days when there’s nothing interesting or useful that comes out. That’s a signal which means rest! I mostly compose in my head or on a keyboard or harmonium. Occasionally, the guitar is also my composing companion. All of my unused pieces are always recorded and logged on my device (phone or computer).