Popularly known for her vocals in songs like Aaj Phir Tum Pe from Hate Story 2 and Mohabbat Barsaa Dena Tu in Creature 3D, Samira Koppikar has also proved her mettle as a composer. This field, in particular, has been mostly dominated by males but Koppikar is leading by example that women too can make it big if they have what it takes. She also has composed for Saif Ali Khan’s latest release Laal Kaptaan. The film is hitting screens today and the music has already received a thumbs up form critics and audience alike. The talented artist got in touch with us and spoke about her love for music, journey so far and her aim for the future. Scroll down to find out what she had to say.
Firstly, I want to know when exactly did you realise that you wanted to make a career in music?
I was always inclined towards music. In school, I was exposed to hindustani classical. I’ve been learning since then. Even in my college, I started my own band… so yeah, somewhere it was always there in my mind. After I finished my interior design, I decided to take it as full fledged career. Subconsciously, I always knew that I would end up doing something in music. Parents always say complete your education first and have a back up. So, like a good daughter I did that. Then, I pursued music in a very focused way.
You started off in the advertising space, writing jingles for brands. Did you picture yourself ending up as a composer / singer at the time?
I always have been fond of cinema. There was always something inside me that wanted to do film music. Be it song writing, singing or composing. I knew that some day it’ll probably lead to this. So, the aim was always there but, yeah it takes a bit of time to get the right break at the right time. But, I always wanted to something with film music.
You were heavily inspired by Jazz Gurus Louis Banks and Joe Alvarez. What kind of impact have they had on you as an artist?
They’ve been my mentors. They were the ones mentored me in the western jazz sort of music. I performed at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2010. So, it gave me a nice platform. Even today, I take advice from them and make them hear my music. I think your teachers are really important. I value their feedback even today. Even my gurus, who I’ve learnt classical from, I take their feedback even today. Apart from the Montreal, I haven’t performed at too many festivals. I soon moved my focus to Bollywood and also composing. I set up my own studio, where I operate from. Creating music gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Your first two tracks as a singer, Aaj Phir Tum Pe from Hate Story 2 and Mohabbat Barsaa Dena Tu in Creature 3D went on to become extremely popular. Did you expect that kind of response?
Well, it wasn’t really expected. I just casually went for the recording. But, it was quite a thrill to get that sort of feedback from the audience. It was quite amazing.
You also tried your hand in the indie space with songs like Bebasi in 2014 and recently with songs Kaanch Ke and Mashaalein. Tell us something more about that.
I’ve not been able to do as much. But, I’m planning to do more in the future. In fact, I’m doing a single which will be realising very soon in which I’m collaborating with Sanam… the band. So, it’s a music video which we’ll be collaborating on and I have composed the song. I think independent music is a very beautiful way to express yourself as an artist.
Talking about your next film Laal Kaptaan. Obviously, this is very different from usual Bollywood films and so you’ve also delivered an album to match that eerie feel of the film. What was your thought process while composing for the film?
The biggest positive was that Navdeep Singh, the director, he had a very clear vision for what kind of sound he requires. He was very involved with the music, which was very good. And, we also got the opportunity to watch the film. He had also given me the script which gave me a detailed insight into how the characters are and also the fabric of the film. I took my lyricist along and we watched the film after which we were really inspired. Later, we went back and we jammed and we came up with the music… song by song. It all happened very organically, which was really beautiful. We thoroughly enjoyed the process.
In this album, we’ve noticed an extensive use of percussion, stringed instruments, harmonium and other elements that we rarely see in Bollywood songs today. What motivated you to go down that path?
One thing because it was a period film and since it’s based on that time, we tried to bring in that kind of sound along with bringing an edginess to it. Even though we have made use of electronic elements, they’re very subtle. They’re not too in your face. It’s very rustic and organic. The edginess and the eeriness was also required. That’s what we’ve tried to do – be true to the script, the producer and the director.
The song Tandav from the film has gained a lot of popularity despite not being a typical commercial track. What do you have to say on that?
I think people respond to the vibe of the song. I feel Tandav has some edgy vibe and you just get lost in. Honestly, you never know that when the music comes out… what the response will be like. But, it was very positive and heartening to know that people loved the music. As a composer in general, you see that the party songs and love songs are the ones which become popular. But now, we see that there are very different films that are offering different types of content. This film too is very unique. The concept, the story… it’s very different. So, it gives young composers a chance to explore different genres, different types of sounds. Thanks to Netflix and other OTT platforms, things have opened up. People are more accepting of different types of music. In fact, they always look forward to something which is a little different. For me, to have an identity and uniqueness is very important and I feel that I’ve been able to explore that with this album. I really enjoyed working on it.
Who are your biggest ideals in the music industry right now?
I’ve always admired A.R Rehman and Vishal Bhardwaj. Rehman’s Roja for me is an all time classic. There’s also a lot of inspiration that I draw from international artists like there’s Regina Spektor and Imogen Heap, who I really like. So, I feel I listen to a lot of world music and independent bands abroad. I feel music is just an ocean you can get lost in.
One singer or composer you would like to collaborate with in the future?
I am very keen to collaborate with Sunidhi Chauhan. I really admire her versatility. She’s someone who I would love to work with someday as a composer.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In terms of the vision for myself, I want to create music for different types of films because I feel that will help me express different types of emotions. I don’t want to see myself get stuck in a rut. In terms of non-film also, my intention is to put out singles on a regular basis and again explore different genres. Also, there’s so much talent out there who I would love to collaborate with. Like in this album (Laal Kaptaan), I collaborated with Dino James. So, I enjoy collaborations as well and I would love to do more of that. In fact, my collaboration with Sanam was the very first one for me. So, these two things I would really love to.