1.What inspired you to start playing music?
I’m very fortunate that I was born in a family of musicians. My father was a sitar artist from India and my mom was a singer, and everyone in my family was a musician. So I grew up with this environment and it was very natural to fall in love with the art form. And so, since my childhood I was inspired seeing my father performing and teaching, helping so many people and bringing happiness in their lives. I tried so many other things because the whole family played music, so I thought I’ll do something else, but that inspiration always brought me back to this life; this journey.
2.How did your recent concert go with Milind Raikar?
I do various projects with different kinds of music. One is as an Indian classical musician, which is a very traditional approach. That was the last concert I had with Milind Raikar. He was a musician touring from Mumbai, India to play. So that is the one of the concerts, but I’m involved with so many cross-cultural projects. We have a band called Wahh World Fusion Band, and we play all over the country and even like this year we were supposed to play for the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. We also played there last year, but this year they had to cancel.
3.What is your favorite part about playing classical music?
My favorite part is that we just share a common language. When we are on stage, it doesn’t matter where the musicians came from, which language they speak, what their background is, what color they are. None of this matters because when we play music, we transform into one language, which is the frequency of music. It became really easy for musicians to just communicate with each other through music and that is the fun part. There have been so many times that happened where you just don’t know the musician, you rehearsed an hour back and went on stage. And then after, the audience comes up and says ‘you guys sound awesome, how long have you been playing together?’ This kind of magic happens with people you don’t know and it’s the beautiful form of creation we have.
4.When did you begin playing and what was your music journey like?
So born into a very musical family, everyone tried to experiment with me. My mom wanted me to sing, so I started singing, and singing is also a magical instrument in your body, so it was very natural to do it. I actually graduated in classical vocal music and then in seventh or eighth grade, my voice changed. During that time, it was really frustrating, and so I decided, because in my family there was no drummer, everyone was a melody player or a singer, to play the tabla. I got very serious into the tabla, and since then been on this musical journey. At the same time, I developed my singing. Also I do compose, and I like composing a lot. I compose various different kinds of music and different projects.
5.Do you play anything other than tabla?
My primary instruments are singing and tabla, but I do play a little bit guitar. And I do play other instruments. But my primary instrument is the tabla and the singing. Each instrument requires a lot of time to master, you know, it’s not possible in 24 hours to master.
6.What do you feel when you play your instrument?
Because I perform both singing and tabla, I’ve had two different experiences. When you’re playing tabla, which is basically a supportive instrument, most of the time, but tabla also plays as a soloist. It is a beautiful, wonderful feeling to be a provider, being a supporting fellow musician who supports to create something with someone else. When I am a tabla player, it’s quite different from being a singer or the composer. I’m in the driver’s seat as a singer or a composer, and that is also another feeling to be responsible and to be very caring, to take the other musicians in the journey and show them, involve them with your own creation, or with your own painting, and, you know, create something beautiful.
7.Any advice for aspiring musicians?
Be honest, and always remember this art, and that the foremost purpose of music and this art is to bring people together, and bring the community and humanity together. You have a social responsibility to share as a team to create and have fun. We feel like in addition to a professional life, there is a social responsibility to get involved in the community and society to bring everyone together in one place.
To address the COVID-19 situation, Lahiri said: “In this crisis time, I know that all of the artists will bring their best creativity because we are all isolated right now. We’re spending much more time with ourselves and finding a deeper meaning of this art and music. There is a positive thing that so much creation is happening during this time of crisis. I’m sure, after this crisis, when we all come out with all these new ideas and new creations, I hope that our community and society will help recover and heal, while appreciating the music.”