Musician Ankur Tewari on what being on the road in 2020 for his new TV show taught him
Musician and singer Ankur Tewari recently took to the road as the host of the new season of MTV Sound Trippin’. The singer has been part of projects such as Gully Boy, and most recently A Suitable Boy and also fronts indie band Ankur & The Ghalat Family. But in 2020 Ankur travelled the country to explore what soundscapes it had to offer. The four-part show delves into local folk music and independent music from different corners of the country. Ankur talks to us about what being on the road taught him, and what we can expect from the show:
How has 2020 been for you? Was the lockdown creatively challenging?
I can say that it was a horrible year for everyone, I won’t mince my words there. It came unexpected, and you know, all plans went up in the air, and it's been really horrid for everyone out there. I was amongst the privileged ones who at least had a house, a roof on my head, so I consider myself lucky. To be honest, it's been really tragic and upsetting.
But at the same time, being an independent musician for so long, you feel that the one thing that you have learnt is to kind of take it on the chin and to get up and try and counter it with all your might. And that’s what I have tried to do - to take it in my stride and try to make the best out of it. Somehow for me whenever things are not looking good, it’s the best time for creativity. So, it’s been very creative. I've written a bunch of songs and a bunch of ideas. Right from December onwards to now, it's been very good for me creatively, probably because it's inversely proportional to the kind of environment we are in.
How was the experience of shooting for Sound Trippin’? Especially given that we are all missing travelling so much now.
The experience was quite overwhelming, I was quite nervous in the beginning, because I had not stepped out of my house and then it was like diving in the deep end of the pool. But we had a very good production unit, and we had a solid plan, and we went through it. The experience was quite different. One had to prepare themselves in a way that was not done before. Try and set rules and regulations, and travel with all safety precautions in mind and also behave ourselves.
It’s a different vibe, it’s a different world out there. You also get to know how different the real world is from the Internet world. For so many months, we’ve only been living on the Internet and consuming everything on the Internet. You realise when you travel on ground how different that world is and what big an illusion social media can create in your mind. Fortunately, we all survived, we all got tested after we came back and everyone tested negative and we all had to pat ourselves on the back, congratulating ourselves for being so disciplined and being so amazing.
Which places do you travel to in the four episodes?
We went to Goa, we went to Mussoorie and Rishikesh, then we went to Jodhpur and then we went back to Mumbai.
Which city and its music were the most surprising to you and why?
I always find Rajasthan very interesting, because it always reveals more about itself the more you go there. For me, revisiting Uttarakhand was really amazing because I am from Kumaon, Uttarakhand, and going back home was probably something I needed in my life as well, to just connect with my roots, so that was quite amazing.
Who are some of the guests you meet on the show?
Each episode has different guests. In the Goa episode, I’ve invited this Portuguese singer Sonia, she sings along with Nikhil D’Souza. In Uttarakhand I’m singing a song along with local musicians. In Rajasthan, there is Papon, singing with the Manganiyar musicians. In Mumbai, there is this rap duo, Won Tribe, along with Lisa Mishra. They are quite a talented bunch of artistes. It’s always amazing to kind of jam with musicians because they always bring something unique to the project. This was one part that was not surprising at all, from the person who left home and the person who came back after the road trip, there has been quite a lot of input.
Were there any learnings from the trip?
One thing I discovered in this was that a trip is really well travelled if you have seen more than you can imagine and imagine more than you can see. So, I think that it ticked both the boxes. I did end up seeing more than I could imagine, and I did end up imagining more than I could see.
What music are you currently working on?
There is an EP I’m working on and there’s a single I’m working on. During the lockdown, I worked on A Suitable Boy. There are more Netflix projects that are coming out. I am also working on a couple of feature films, one is directed by Shakun Batra, one by Gurmeet Singh, who just finished Mirzapur. There are a bunch of projects in the works, so fortunately for me the work has been on the roll.
Catch Hyundai X MTV Sound Trippin' every Friday, 7 pm. On MTV India