Producer Miti Adhikari Returns Home
The influential producer, who has worked with the likes of Seattle alt rockers Foo Fighters, is back in India for good, begins work with The Supersonics and Ganesh Talkies
In 2009, the name Miti Adhikari first popped up on the Indian band radar when Kolkata rock band, The Supersonics, released their debut Maby Baking. Adhikari, 58, was credited as the producer of the brilliant album, but little else was known about him in India. In 2012, a YouTube video link of Foo Fighters dedicating a song from the band’s 2011 Reading & Leeds Festival headliner set to Adhikari created quite a buzz online. While that YouTube video is a mere peep into Adhikari’s fantastic body of work, it definitely is a good place to start.
Adhikari, originally from Kolkata, held ground as the chief sound engineer for the iconic Maida Vale Studios at the BBC Radio for 34 years. In what was a chance landing of the job, on the recommendation of a family friend, Adhikari worked his way up having started out as an assistant studio manager, later prodding his seniors to give him a chance to get in on the mixing. Over his tenure, the ‘Silver Fox’ as he is fondly referred to, has recorded everyone from Nirvana to James Blake and worked at some of the biggest music festivals in Europe as a sound engineer. The night he was “done with it,” as he puts it, was after his last Glastonbury Festival, in 2011, where the headliners included Coldplay, U2 and Beyonce.
It wasn’t a rushed decision to come back to India. In fact, Adhikari wanted to play guitar again and focus on working with artists back in India. His work with Kolkata alt rockers SPAN, his cousin Neel Adhikari’s former band, and his association with The Supersonics seemed challenging and he sensed a change within the scene in India. Eventually, Adhikari also produced albums for Delhi alt rockers Menwhopause, The Ska Vengers also from Delhi and most recently, with Kolkata pop rock singer Nischay Parekh, whose album he played guitar parts as well. “It was a collaboration in the real sense of it, with Nischay. When he got in touch with me asking if I would produce his album, I said of course I would.”
Currently, Adhikari finds himself in the middle of an emerging scene, “as much as I dislike that word,” he adds, “You can almost feel it, but it still has a long way to go. In terms of a larger India context, we’re not even close to a majority.” For the next few months, Adhikari already has a fair amount of work lined up, including producing albums for Kolkata pop rock band Ganesh Talkies. The producer also plans to revive a guitar project with his friend Sanjay Mishra (also the founding member of Mahamaya, the college band Adhikari was a part of in Kolkata) with whom he shares a bit of a “Jerry Garcia connection,” reinforcing his admiration of The Grateful Dead. There’s also the new Menwhopause album, which he’s hoping the New Delhi alt rockers will ask him to produce. To top that off, The Supersonics are halfway on their way to the studio to record the much awaited follow up to Maby Baking. “When they (The Supersonics) started me sending me some demos initially, I wasn’t so convinced. But, they’ve played a lot of gigs, worked on it and I can see it coming together. It needs to happen soon, and I’m really excited for that,” he said.
While he might travel to England and Goa frequently over the next phase, Adhikari adds, “Let’s just say the largest collection of my underpants will be in Kolkata.” That the Silver Fox hopes that more people in India begin to realize the importance of a producer, is clear when you talk to him. “As someone who is overseeing the entire process, you need to look beyond just the technicals and help ease the process. And as someone who’s involved in that process, you need to give it a sense of direction to help bands feel that they’ve nailed something if it’s honest.”
This article appeared in the February 2014 issue of ROLLING STONE India