Music & Me: Nitin Sawhney


The first record I bought was...



Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. I remember hearing "So What" on the radio when I was just eight years old and my dad was driving us up to London one night in the rain. Around that time I had been getting more and more into playing around with scales and improvising on the piano, so I was just really struck by American jazz pianist Bill Evans' way with harmony.

Nothing, however, could really capture the reaction I had to Miles' muted horn tone. Every not he played was a profound soundtrack to melancholy. Still as beautiful now as it seemed then.

The first gig I went to was...

A military band playing a continuous loop of "When The Saints Go Marching In", out of tune, while I was riding a horse at my uncle's wedding in India. I was eight and into Miles Davis. Like the precocious brat I was, I think I burst out crying. Great wedding. Bad gig.

My favourite record is...

"Mustt Mustt" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Actually to be more specific, I'm really into the 1990 remix by Massive Attack of this track which appeared on the album of the same name, produced by Michael Brook. Nusrat was always a hero of mine and a huge influence on my own work. He crossed just about every boundary going, being naturally gifted with a universal emotion in his voice that veered from impassioned and virtuosi to dark, chilled and sublime. His voice graced classic films such as Natural Born Killers and Bandit Queen. No stranger to unpredictable collaborations, Nusrat is perfectly complemented by the cool, dark and lazy dub that marked out Massive Attack as the seminal producers of that decade.

But my parents always liked...

Cuban, Brazilian, flamenco, Indian classical music and jazz. Fair enough I reckon...

I couldn't marry someone...

Who wasn't humanoid or was in favour of genocide.

On stage I like to wear...

Whatever keeps my focus on the music. Normally jeans and a T-shirt.

I'd love to perform with...

Thom Yorke, Paco de Lucia, Anoushka Shankar, David Gilmour, Jill Scott, Seu Jorge or four juggling balls when I'm ready.

One thing that must change in the music industry is...

Asians making music being seen as a fad, fashion, world music, underground music, exotic, a trend, "sitar-based" where none are used etc. Most of the world is Asian. Deal with it.

A great album cover is...

All My Friends Are Dead by Freddie Gage.

On my iPod I listen mostly to...

Indian classical music, particularly Hindustani Ragas.

If I could have written any song it would have been...

"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye.

The worst song I have heard is...

"D.I.V.O.R.C.E." by Tammy Wynette.

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