Goldspot’s Siddhartha Khosla Says Hollywood is Finally Ready for South Asian Artists
The Indian-American musician on composing music for the most emotional show on television right now
There isn’t really a nice way to put this: Siddhartha Khosla, the creative force behind the American indie band Goldspot, is kind of sappy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he’s talking to us while holed up late at night in his Los Angeles recording studio, but it’s hard not to feel the emotion gushing from his voice–even over the phone–when he says, “I can’t even tell you, it’s been crazy, the love from the fans in India, the love from India is incredible. You don’t ever think this stuff is going to happen to you.” You almost expect him to go full hippie and throw in a “Peace and love, man.”
To accuse Khosla of being an actual hippie might be going a step too far, though. He spent part of his early childhood with his grandparents in New Delhi, until his immigrant parents were financially viable enough to raise him in America–so it’s understandable that he feels a visceral connection to India. Khosla’s nostalgia for and emotional attachment to the country both make themselves evident in his music, from his 2010 cover of the Fifties’ Bollywood hit “Ina Mika Dika” to 2013’s retrospective Aerogramme. “When I write for Goldspot, I write solely based on what comes from my heart,” he says.
Being so tapped into his sentiments (read: sappy) has translated well for Khosla on his latest gig as the score composer for hit American TV show, This Is Us, which at best can be described as “emotional” and at worst, positively devastating. “People cry a lot when they watch the show–there’s just something very therapeutic about it. People experience their own catharsis,” says Khosla, admitting that he too is moved to tears while watching episodes to put music to them. “I experience the same catharsis that the fans do.”
Khosla met This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman when both were freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania, and the two reconnected professionally in Los Angeles when Fogelman asked Khosla to compose the score for his 2012 show, The Neighbors. Khosla, who has also written music for TV series The Royals and Grandfathered, thinks that this is a crucial juncture for the visibility of South Asian talent in Hollywood, particularly in television. “From your Netflixes and Hulus to your Showtimes to even now broadcast/network television, it’s just getting a lot better,” says Khosla. “Everyone’s trying to do something elevated.”
Khosla believes that TV’s dramatic improvement in quality has directly led to more openness to South Asian talent. “People are looking for newer and fresher perspectives on things,” he says. “The old tried-and-true approach doesn’t really hold bait anymore.” Khosla lists Kal Penn, Aziz Ansari, and Mindy Kaling as the Hollywood powerhouses that are leading the pack and paving the way for other South Asian artists. “There’s a trickle-down effect,” Khosla explains. “You have these people that are creating content and that are writing and directing and that’s getting heard on TV, and it’s probably beginning to inspire a lot of other South Asians.”
“I think it’s really beautiful to see the impact that successful South Asians are having,” he says. “In the next five or ten years, we’re going to continue seeing more, and maybe a kid’s going to say, ‘Oh, an Indian guy did the score for This Is Us. My parents are Indian and I love that show, I want to be a musician now too.’ I hope I can mentor somebody like that.”
It’s hard to see where Khosla would find the time to mentor anybody right now: he’s currently booked solid with his composing work for This Is Us, which sees him in the recording studio seven days a week. But Khosla hopes to return to Goldspot to work on Aerogramme’s follow-up album when he gets a break from This Is Us (and tears, hopefully) this summer. “I don’t know what it’s about yet, so I’ll have to figure that out,” he says with a chuckle. “For all of my albums I’m usually compelled to write something based on a concept. My albums are like a book, so I’ll have to figure out what the next one’s going to be.”
Listen to Khosla’s music on the ‘This Is Us’ finale on Star World Premiere HD, this Saturday, March 18th at 10 PM.
Watch an acoustic performance of “Evergreen Cassette,” a single off 2013’s ‘Aerogramme’: