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“…Indian people are used to hearing different genres…†–an interview with Mitul from the Duo Mitul & Mukul
- Amanda Sodhi           Let us know what you think about this article

The musical duo Mitul and Mukul have brought us melodious numbers in their albums Saajaniya and ...To Kya Ho. And now I, Amanda Sodhi, at bring you an in-depth interview with Mitul in which he shares his and Mukul’s approach to music composition, actors they would like to sing for, how they decided to pursue a career in music and much more!

Tell us a little bit about how you two decided to pursue a career in music…

It was something that came very naturally to us. Ever since we were very young, we found interest in playing different instruments and singing. Writing, composing, and creating our own music came later on, also naturally. Then, once we had created all these great songs, we thought, "Why not produce an album?!"

Both of you are based in New Jersey but tend to work on the promotion of your albums in India. Do you think being based in India, especially Mumbai, would result in more opportunities for you?

We keep going back and forth between the two countries. We have our own production studio in New Jersey so we find it very easy to produce our music here, at our own pace. Then once it's ready, we spend more time in India. So far, we have found no problems with this method.

Mukul, you were 17, and Mitul, you were 23, when you two came out with your first album, Saajaniya. Tell us a bit about how this album came into being.

One fine day, I started writing and composing songs. And Mukul had always been good at creating and directing music. It was this perfect combination that resulted in Saajaniya. We showed the album to the record label HMV Saregama, and they signed us on.

Also, tell us a bit about your latest album, ...To Kya Ho.

...To Kya Ho is our second album, which was released by Times Music. We experimented a bit with this one and took a different path. Instead of all the songs being of the same genre, the album is divided into two parts. The first half (songs that I sing) are hip-hop songs. And the second half (songs that Mukul sings) are romantic songs. We had the opportunity to collaborate with very talented artists such as Mauli Dave (of Saregamapa fame), Villa (NY-based rapper), Marcelo Cardozo (NY-based guitarist) and Jatan Buch (NJ-based tabla player).

I guess what we wanted to do with this album was to just make songs that we enjoy making. We realized that we enjoy making a hip-hop song just as much as we enjoy making a romantic song. So why not do both in one album and change things up a bit half-way?! Anyway, Indian people are used to hearing different genres in one film album!

How do you two divide up the work when composing? Do you both have similar styles and approach to music composition?

I write and compose the songs. Mukul creates and directs the music. He also does recording, mixing and mastering of the songs, and plays various instruments such as keyboard, flute, guitar and tabla. We both try to focus on doing what we are good at and let the other one do the rest!

Take us through your process of composing music…

Here we disclose our top-secret, patented process: I wake up in the middle of the night to write and compose a song. I make Mukul hear the song the next day. Mukul creates and directs the music for the song, also usually at some godforsaken hour in the night.

At times, the process is varied in that Mukul creates a new beat and tune with a few words, based on which I write and compose the song.

What do you consider to be your source of inspiration?

Things we see and things we experience and feel.

Which singers and music directors you look up to?

Sonu Nigam, A.R. Rahman, Hariharan, Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghosal, Rashid Khan, John Mayer, Maroon 5, The Fray, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Timbaland, Nickelback, 50 Cent, Eminem.

What are some of your favorite compositions?

Saajaniya tracks 1-9 and To Kya Ho tracks 1-12 (smiles).

What songs are on your playlist these days?

Many songs from the artists mentioned above. Some new Hindi songs like from the movies Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Rock On, etc.

Are there any singers you would like to work with? Are there any music directors you'd like to lend your voice to?

So far we've been self-sufficient. But it would certainly be interesting to work with other talented singers and artists.

Any plans to compose for Indian films or sing for other music directors? If you could sing for any Bollywood actor, who would it be?

No concrete plans yet to compose for films but that does sound like an interesting thing to do.

We haven't really thought of singing for an actor but here goes...

For me, it would probably be Shah Rukh Khan as I used to sing many songs of his when I was a kid. Like Jaadu Teri Nazar from Darr, Baazigar O Baazigar from Baazigar, Agar Tum Kaho from Yes Boss, Koi Na Koi Chahiye from Deewana.

For Mukul, it would probably be Aamir Khan as he used to sing Pehla Nasha from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Mitwa from Lagaan and others.

Both of you have spent a significant amount of time in India, especially in Baroda, Gujarat. I'm sure that being exposed to music from India and America has influenced your style of music. For example, the Kaisi Yeh Deewangee Reprise from ...To Kya Ho had a classical touch to it.

Yes, we have spent about 7 years of our childhood in India. It was during this time that we were first exposed to the music of India. We started by playing the flute and keyboard. We also started learning vocal classical music, which we continued once we came back to America.

We are grateful to our teacher in New Jersey, Anasua Roy, for training us in Indian classical music. Because of her, we have a strong foundation in classical music, which has proven to be invaluable in composing and creating music and in singing.

Both of you learned to play the flute and keyboard on your own. What other instruments do you know how to play? What are your favorite instruments? Are there any particular combinations of instruments you like to use in your compositions?

Besides flute and keyboard, we play harmonium, guitar, and tabla. Mukul does a lot of the music creation on his keyboard and in digital form. Then, he either directs the musicians that we work with or he plays the instrumental pieces himself, since he plays so many instruments! Our favorite instruments are piano, strings (violins + cellos), and woodwinds like clarinet and flute. Many of our songs contain combinations of these instruments, such as Saavan and Kaisi Yeh Deewangee. Mukul says that not many other instruments can create the warmth of a cello or the sweetness of a flute.

Like writers suffer from writers block, do you guys ever suffer from composition block? Do you guys try to avoid listening to other music when you are in the mood to compose songs so it doesn't affect your creativity?

There are days when I can write and compose a whole song in one sitting and there are days when nothing extraordinary comes to mind! This does not depend on the time of day. I guess it only depends on my mood. If I'm not in the mood, I don't force myself to compose, as the result would not be as great. But if I am in the mood, there better be a pen and paper around!

What advice do you have for aspiring singers, musicians and lyricists, especially those who are NRIs? Do you think being based in India, at least initially, is helpful? Do you see a need for more talent hunts for NRIs?

Keep doing what you do well. Don't give a damn if other people say you're not good enough.

We don't think it matters where you live. Nowadays, there are so many Indian music teachers and schools in the US. It really helps to find a good teacher though. Also, nowadays you can get so many Indian TV channels in the US.

More talent hunts would definitely help in bringing good talent into the spotlight.

What are you two working on these days?

On our new compositions, of course!

Is there anything else you'd like to let our readers know?

Well, one major thing we wanted to clear up is that just because our names sound similar, we are NOT twin brothers, which is a common misconception. Though we are brothers, I am older than Mukul by 5 whole years!

Secondly, keep listening and supporting our music!

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