Ronit Vohra talks to SoundboxIndia about his musical journey. He shares the story of his first performance in Mumbai and how that inspired him to take music seriously and release his first single, Jane na tu . Ronit believes that there is a lot more music genres that have to be explored. Watch the video below to listen to him sing one of his favourite songs...
* How did your musical career begin?
I am originally from Dehradun, Uttarakhand. I studied architecture in college and I have been singing since I was a kid. I am from a musical background as well - my bua is a trained classical singer. I would sit with her during her riyaaz, that’s how the interest in music welled up in me. Post my graduation, I had planned on coming to Mumbai and that’s how I decided that this (music) is something I want to do as a career.
* Who were the artistes you listened to?
I really admire Sonu Nigam - he is a combination of a singer and performer. He is altogether very versatile as a singer and as a performer as well. The best part about him is the way he handles his mic and the variations that he gives while performing live or in the studio. I really think it is amazing. He is one of my inspirations.
* Were you formally trained in music?
Initially I was not, because I just sat with my bua during her riyaaz. She has given me some basic training, but when I came to Mumbai - which was four years back - I started to take lessons with my guruji, Ustaad Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan. I trained for two years with him and now I am practising on my own. It was pure Hindustani classical.
* With indie music coming up in India, what’s your take on folk and other music genres?
I think there are so many genres. Punjabi songs have been coming up. But I feel jo devotional genre hai, jo bhajans and all hai…nobody is paying attention to these. This is not my genre; I am not saying I can sing bhajans and all that, but this is a very wide field, as a genre. Bhajans wali audience bhi bahut hai, especially in India. So I feel there’s a lot of scope and music directors and all the production houses could look out for these kind of people who do jagraans and folk music. Rajasthan main toh there’s a whole gang that does a lot of folk music. There’s a lot of scope and if we give a chance to these people, it will be amazing. It would be something different, a new tangent to the music industry. Because abhi bahut jyada Punjabi and fast numbers, new generation kind of songs are made right now and there are a lot of old mixes as well. It’s the same trend jo already aa chukka hai…so I feel yeh jo genre hai devotional music and and folk music ka..yeh bahut jyada explored nahi hai. There’s a lot of room for exploration, I believe.
* Would you be open to folk fusion, which isn’t yet as popular in India?
Absolutely! I love Sufi music. I love the essence that Rajasthani music has, I think it’s beyond beautiful, with the kind of instruments they use. And it’s very raw, there’s nothing like tum prepare karke aa jao…wo unke andar hai, that is something which they are born with. If it stands out globally in front of the audience, it will do brilliantly well, it will be amazing.
* Back in Dehradhun, what were the folk songs you listened to?
I never listened to a lot of folk songs. I used to listen to a lot of Coke Studio, which has a folk touch to it. I don’t really remember the name of the songs right now, but I personally like folk music. I really connect to this.
* How does it feel after releasing your first single?
It feels amazing! I came to Mumbai four years ago to work as an architect. The main agenda was that I had to do something with music, but I didn’t know how. It was only the passion I had for music that kept me going. Now I have reached a stage where I have released my own single through a very big label. It feels really amazing and even inspiring that people are appreciating my work and it's my own composition. I am glad they liked it and there’s lots more to come and I feel it’s great.
* We know you performed an impromptu gig in Mumbai - how has the journey been from there until now?
The journey has been quite a learning experience, I would say. I will tell you how it all started. I came to Mumbai on 5th July, 2015. I was staying at a friend’s place and after four days he said there’s a new place called Sirocco, it's a lounge and bistro in Versova. He said let us go there and have a good time. I said okay, because I was new to Mumbai and I wanted to see how the people here chill and live their lives.
I have this habit of carrying my guitar all the time. Toh main apna guitar leke pahuch gaya waha pe. I really liked that place, it's an open air restaurant, people are chilling and having conversations. I really wanted to do something there, thinking I might get a positive response. I spoke to the owner and asked him to give me 10 minutes to sing. Pehle usne mana kiya, he said no. He said we don’t usually have live music here, we only have ambient music and live music isn’t the trend here. Maine aur mere friends ne aur 2 -3 baar bola and later on he agreed to it. He said we don’t have a mic and I agreed to do it without a mic. When I started singing, I ended up doing a 1.5 hour session. People were enjoying it so much and I was in that full flow of singing. That is how it all started and even the owners really enjoyed it and said, 'We can think of doing a regular night with you'. That really boosted me. At least I found that starting point to start my music career. So eventually I started meeting a lot of people, and that’s how it all began.
* Do you remember the first song which you performed there? Could you hum it?
I think I still remember….I sang Main tenu samjhawan ki and it’s one of my favourite songs.