Sunday, 2 October 2011

Swati Natekar Interview

Press the title to go to Swati's web page.

1. When did you first become involved in music and who were your greatest influences?

To be honest, I didn’t even realize when I got into music. Born & brought up into a musical family, I studied music from my mother Dr. Sushila Pohankar, who herself was a musicologist & PhD in Indian Classical & Folk Music. I remember giving my first stage performance when I was 10. Because of my mother, lots of famous artists used to visit us, stay with us & perform at our place, which influenced me a lot. Also since childhood, I used to listen to lot of old records collected by my parents. Even today, those recording are still fresh in my memory! Without knowing, music became my life.

2. You have worked with many established artists, who did you enjoy working with most?

Really can’t mention one name (sorry, not trying to be politically correct!), as I had the opportunity to work with so many great artists! My first recording in UK was with Ustad Zakir Hussain, one of the greatest Tabla players. As the track was already filmed, to fit in free flowing Indian Classical melody on top of it was a real challenge! But I loved doing that. With Nitin Sawhney, I got to create Nadia & Beyond skin, which was fantastic. After recording the track ‘Miracle’ with Craig Armstrong, I got the opportunity to perform live with him alongside a 60 piece orchestra at the Barbican, as well as in Paris & Brussels. While recording ‘Jakatta – American Dream’, I hardly ever thought that one day this track would reach No#3 in the UK charts.

3. As well as working with Indian Classical music and Spiritual World/Lounge fusions you also perform Ghazals. My understanding is this is a form of Arabic poetry that spread into India. Could you explain more for the readers who are a novice when it comes to forms of Asian music?

Ghazal is a poetry which can be written in Arabic, Persian or Urdu. It has got couplets and each couplet can be based on different subject. It’s a form of Light music. I have been singing Urdu ghazals since the age of 15. I had so much passionate about Ghazals, that although it’s not my language, I learnt to sing by myself. In ghazals, Urdu diction and expression is extremely important. Both my Ghazal albums ‘Dhanak – The Rainbow’ and ‘Anjuman’ are the results of my love for Ghazals.

4. Where can people hear your music and do you have any live shows in the near future?

People can log on to, where they can listen to my latest tracks, as well as they can buy my albums there.

Classical listeners can log on to

Where as Ghazal lovers can listen to the clips from my albums on

Some of my music performances and TV interviews can also be viewed on by searching on the term “Swati Natekar”

Currently, I am promoting my latest Fusion album ‘Destiny Chakra’ along with my talented team of musicians & singers. This tour has been supported by the Arts Council of England & Wales and for that, I can not thank them enough! We started this tour by performing at Purcell Room, Southbank for Asian Music Circuit, followed by a performance at London Mela 2009, which was a great success!

Our next concert will be on the 29th September, when we are opening the season at the recently refurbished popula venue ‘Band on the Wall’ in Manchester, where we will be performing tracks live from ‘Destiny Chakra’.

Also, we have a forthcoming show on the 6th November at Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford, where I will be presenting a show Raga2Destiny – Passage to India, which will be a journey of Indian Music starting from Classical, through Thumree, Ghazals, Bollywood, ending towards Fusion, the latest popular trend in India.

5. Living in London has obviously broadened your musical outlook and influenced your work to some degree. I guess some traditionalists would see that as a distraction from the study of the classical form. Would you agree?

I strongly feel that first, one needs to be trained properly. Your Guru gives you the vision, which helps you to study further on your own. At that stage, I don’t think it will make much difference by living anywhere in the world. In fact these days, as there are various avenues available to listen to music at your own convenience while sitting at home, if one has determination, one can certainly progress. Probably this is why we don’t value the knowledge available to us the way our previous generation did! Talking about the determination, I must mention about one of my students, who has continued with the music lessons through skype after she had to shift to New York and I am quite proud to say that she is doing very well. In fact, just couple of months ago, when my students held a function where they all had to perform, she gave her first skype performance.

For me, living in London has played a major role in my life and music. All these years, I silently worked on the knowledge passed by my mum and also tried to create my individual musical personality. At the same time, London has given me a wider perspective, a great vision, an opportunity to listen to different styles of music & also to collaborate with them. I owe a lot to this place. Without London being part of my life, you wouldn’t have seen the same Swati Natekar.

6. Which artists are exciting you at the moment?

Every day is different for me. I enjoy listening to different genres all the time. One day, I listen to famous Classical artist Ustad Amir Khan, Rashid Khan or my renowned elder brother Pt. Ajay Pohankar. On another day, I enjoy listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s quawwali. Next day I would listen to Ghazal Maestro Mehdi Hassan or Ghulam Ali. Many times I listen to Fusion albums. Artists like Hariharan, Niladri Kumar, Mekaal Hasan inspire me a lot. I also enjoy listening to Coldplay, Zoe Rahman & Jamie Cullum.

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