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Nikhil D’Souza: ‘Nexa Music Will Fast-Track Releases for Musicians’

The Mumbai musician talks about the importance of Indian English-speaking masses to accept local talent and what he’s looking for among the Nexa Music artists

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Feb 06, 2019

Nikhil D'Souza feels it's important to get Indian English-speaking masses to accept local talent. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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As a singer-songwriter who has managed to break past the indie music space and build a global fan following, Nikhil D’Souza is probably one of the best candidates in the world to headline the country’s latest English music talent hunt, Nexa Music. The Mumbai musician gets real about what it takes to do what he did, but has faith that Nexa Music is a platform that can make it an easier journey for budding artists. “I’ve had some music released internationally and it’s taken time and money–lots of both,” says D’Souza. “Hopefully what Nexa Music will do is fast-track this process for musicians here and get them to a place where international audiences will recognize us as a source of exciting new music that they can fully relate to.” In this interview, D’Souza talks about the importance of Indian English-speaking masses to accept local talent, the skills required to be a live performer and what he’s looking for among the Nexa Music artists. Excerpts:

Why do think there is a genuine need for a project like Nexa Music in India? What is the indie music scene urgently lacking today?

It’s a well known and, sadly, accepted fact that independent English music in India is simply not taken seriously. Nexa Music is a step in the direction to change that. One of the biggest things missing in the indie English scene so far is a legitimate digital platform to showcase the artists and their music. I think half the job is to coax the English-speaking masses here to accept, embrace and support this music as their own rather than look only to international artists and bands to fill up their music playlists. Of course, the other half is to develop artists with potential; bring them up to an international level in terms of songwriting and production.

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What are the ways in which Nexa Music and musicians like yourself can inspire young talent to create music that has global audiences?

Leading by example, firstly, at least for my part. I’ve had some music released internationally and it’s taken time and money–lots of both. Hopefully what Nexa Music will do is fast-rack this process for musicians here and get them to a place where international audiences will recognize us as a source of exciting new music that they can fully relate to. The fact that some of the biggest names in the Indian music industry are backing it should encourage and inspire young talent to create their best music to be a part of this platform. The live performance element of Nexa Music is a thrilling prospect for all the selected talent.

As a studio artist and a performing musician, what do you rate as more important: the studio or the stage?

Thrilling and nerve-racking I should say. I’d say that being a studio artist and a performer both go hand in hand and are almost mutually exclusive skills to develop. It’s one thing to sing in the relative comfort of a studio, with the luxury of multiple takes. It’s quite another to sing in front of hundreds of people, sometimes when you can’t even hear yourself well enough. It’s important to have both because as a modern day artist most of your money comes in from live touring. Income from digital sales of your song are almost negligible. So they’re both different technical skills after a point but equally important.

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What are the onstage qualities you’re looking for in the Nexa Music artists?

There’s a certain quality about some performers: when you watch them you tell yourself that this person was born to be on stage. It’s a rare quality, some have it, some develop it over time. Of course, musicality–the ability to play in time and pitch correctly while singing–is necessary but engaging an audience is also very important. At the end of a 90 minute performance, it’s an amazing feeling when they’re begging you for more.

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