Entrepreneur Tushar Vashisht turns musician with his latest track Kahaani
Tushar Vashisht, CEO and co-founder of health app HealthifyMe, appears to be a man of many talents. The entrepreneur, who recently released his single, Kahaani, shares the story behind his passion for music, his experiments with cooking and other activities during the lockdown, and his journey with personal fitness.
Tushar has also worked as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank and was a former employee at Aadhaar (UIDAI - Unique Identification Authority of India), however, with the release of Kahaani, the entrepreneur showcases a different side of his personality. He spoke exclusively to Indulge about it, here are the excerpts:
Why did you want to release the single, Kahaani, now? Was it something you always wanted to do?
Well, I guess I’ve been a musician since the age of six. I’ve been learning to sing since then. I was also part of an a cappella group called Penn Masala at University of Pennsylvania and, I worked on original songs with them. So, I guess if I had to be honest, I have always been a musician! Music has been part of my life for three decades now. (Interestingly, the entrepreneur had also written the lyrics for the track ‘Pehchaan’ when he was part of the a cappella group Penn Masala). HealthifyMe happened as a matter of my passion for health and fitness and was inspired by my own journey of weight gain and weight loss. The weight loss was while working for Aadhar.
Could you explain the process that went into the creation of this song, Kahaani? How was your experience?
Kahaani was inspired from personal life stories of heartbreak and love found again. This happened when I met Raghu (Ramasubramanian) at a concert — he is singer Lucky Ali’s bass guitarist. I saw him play on stage and actually sang live to some of the stuff he was doing with jazz. I had done some improvised bits with the Hindustani style, so I went up to him and showed it later. He loved it and got my number. One day, he joined me on my terrace and we were jamming together. We really vibed with each other and started making some interesting pieces together. At the same time, I was writing the lyrics for Kahaani on my own and composing a few melodies as well. I showed him the rough sketch, which he really liked. We just jammed together and perfected the composition and the structure. Then, I added the lyrics.
What were challenges you faced while working on this song?
The COVID-19 pandemic had hit us around that time, so our work process became slower and meetings were less frequent. Non-line (unavailable on the Internet or out of touch) was harder, but we somehow persevered and ended up recording at Raghu Dixit’s studio. Raghu Ramasubramanian and I both got COVID-19 together while trying to make it happen, but hey, after all that effort, we were able to record, produce and edit the composition. I hit up an old friend of mine, Advaitha Anando Bose in Delhi and requested him to mix the track. Now, here we are!
Who introduced you to music?
I was six years old when I did my first concert. My parents got me into learning Hindustani classical music and that’s something I really enjoyed. I learned through various teachers and on my own. I also learned music in high school with Baldev Raj Verma in Delhi. Then, I continued my experiments because I was always interested in experimenting with what fusion could feel like — taking elements of Sufi Hindustani classical and folk and merging them with Western sounds and compositions, or rock/jazz/pop. I guess that’s what I ended up doing with Penn Masala when I was in University of Pennsylvania. That’s what I’m trying to develop into my sound. My parents also are very inspired by them. Mom sings, grandma sings, and my parents always took me to various amazing concerts in Delhi. I think that too really helped me. Listening to great musicians helps me become better.
Which musicians are you inspired by?
There are several. I love Coke Studio and everything that happens there. It’s a good experiment with various sounds. Being a huge fan of modern singers, I think Arijit Singh is doing some fantastic work. On a softer side, I really love what Prateek Kuhad is up to as well, and Ritviz’s music with beats. When it comes to the Sufi side, Abida Parveen’s music has always moved me heavily. In the Hindustani classical side, both Pt. Bhimsen Joshi and Pt. Jasraj’s music has always inspired me.
What are the top three tracks on your playlist right now?
They change all the time, but right now, the top three tracks would probably be some of George Washington Jr’s jazz in the ’70s. Right up there would be Papon and the third one on the list is a song by Ritviz called ‘Sage’. That's what I'm really proud of listening to, a lot.
What kind of impact did the pandemic have on your work? Were any of your future projects delayed?
Healthify really had a positive impact — strong tailwinds — as people have become more conscious about health and fitness. Musically, I think it has actually slowed things down, unfortunately, because I need to collaborate with other musicians as a singer and creator. It’s been hard to fundamentally collaborate with other musicians in these times.
How has the past one year been for you?
It has been fantastic during the pandemic, Healthify has done really well and I have had time to focus on music and cooking. I never had the time to make new friends and new relationships. It's been a great time to slow down a little, introspect and reflect on what excites one in life, so I think it’s been a fantastic time.
You also appear to have tried your hand at cooking during the lockdown. How did it go? What motivated you to try it?
Oh, I love cooking a lot. I think cooking and music have to be up there for me. I’ve always loved experimenting with breakfast and other food that is very ‘Michelin Star-esque high’ on presentation. So I don't actually follow any cookbook or recipes; I just work with the ingredients I have and try to go with the flow to see what comes out of it. During the lockdown, I made some interesting preparations with eggs and salmon using special spices and herbs. The food I prepare would probably be best classified as European or just experimental food.
What are you working on next? What are your future projects?
There’s an EP (extended play) that I’m working on. Kahaani is just the first of the songs on my list. There’s ‘Udd Jaa Re’ and a demo experimental Sufi piece that I’m working on. Udd Jaa Re is about taking the leap, not holding back and not letting life get in the way. I’m very excited about releasing those soon.
If not business or music, which field would you have chosen for your profession?
If not business, then I’d probably be a musician full-time. If not these two, I’d probably do farming and cooking somewhere. That would be something I’d love to do, or I guess working on impact fields in Aadhaar, which is what I worked on before this. I think writing about or working on social projects that can make lives better has always inspired me.
Do you have plans to enter the film industry as a playback singer or actor?
I don't think so... I love making songs that are my own compositions, so maybe, I might do it for the right track for the right movie, or for an album as a singer or producer. But that’s not something that I particularly aspire towards.
Tell us about your journey with personal fitness. What’s your current fitness routine?
My journey with personal fitness, I think, has been one that is everyone’s journey. It’s a struggle fundamentally since food is always easily available and working out is always hard. There’s also time pressure and work pressure so I have gained weight and lost weight multiple times in my life. At least, now I know the science behind it. I love working out outside. I love running, cycling, and any kind of outdoor sport or activity. Hiking is something I truly enjoy.