Let the music play by your fingers – the Piano King, Aman Bathla!

Who knew that the kid who was just playing around touching every musical instrument in his childhood will grow up to be a Piano King…IMG_0381

Aman Bathla, who was very fond of touching and playing with musical instruments in his childhood, is conferred with the awarding entry in the great books like Golden Book of World Records, Unique World Records and Incredible Books of Records in the year 2015. When asked about his feelings for the awards, Aman says, “These certificates added feathers to my cap. Now I have 8 World record certificates and of course, it feels so good.”

Aman believes that music is one of the best mediums of meditation. He says that music has made him more subtle in life and hence has helped him develop a direct connection with his inner-self. With the knowledge of another 26 music instruments, together with Piano, Aman always found Piano attractive as he got fascinated with the fact of both the hands ding different tasks at the same time. He felt the sound of the piano as the angelic bells from the heaven.IMG_117642545471387

Coming from a well-established business family of Gurgaon, Aman was though never forced to continue with the established business, but yes was expected to do so being the part of the family. But he heard his heart, saying to play piano instead. Aman goes by the phrase, “Practice makes a man perfect”, and thus, with the regularity of doing his Riyaz every day at-least for 3-4 hours, he makes sure that he can maintain his quality of playing.

Aman has two great idols to follow in his life – the coveted Santoor player PT. Shiv Kumar Sharma, for his wonderful soul and none other than A. R. Rehman for his bone chilling music. Aman also gives free piano training to selected kids with the aim to make the today’s generation relate to piano popularise piano as a mainstream instrument like it has been in good old times. He selects the students for free training who are sincerely passionate about learning piano and cannot afford steep fees that are charged in a market otherwise.IMG_9128

When asked about his favourite students and how does they differ from the crowd, he said, I am proud of all my bachas. Some are teachers now and some are performers, but yes 3 of my stars are shining apart. Gauri Mishra, 9 year old pianist who is the youngest pianist of our nation, Tanvi Gupta is also emerging as a promising pianist and Satyam Upadhyay, my young singing sensation.

With the special dedicated piano set-up in Ambiance Mall, Gurgaon, Aman Bathla is earning his name and respect with the lovely instrument where fingers play the music of the heart!

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Priyanka Chopra launches her first International music video

46764_505567552823494_351360263_nIn My City is going to become Priyanka Chopra’s first international single video launched recently by her.  Bollywood superstar along with 2101 /Desi Hits! /Interscope unveiled her first music video In My City featuring will.i.am. The video is being directed by an award winning video and film director Joseph Khan and produced by RedOne and Brian Kennedy. The video was premiered worldwide at the Reliance Digital Store in Mumbai last Saturday.

The video captures the essence of the song in a contemporary mode; however the actress made her point of retaining the Indian-ness with the help of Desi dance moves with the help of Richard ‘Richy’ Jackson. The dance moves have been choreographed by international pop sensation Lady Gaga’s choreographer. Priyanka said, “I wanted that the identity of the song should be Indian. I am very India-proud. When people see my video, they must feel that Bollywood is like this”.

The actress revealed that the first person to have a look at her music video was her dad, who is not doing well and is hospitalized from quite a time now. She told us that he really liked the video, especially the ‘Namaste’ she did with it.

Sharing her thoughts at the world premiere, Priyanka Chopra said, “I’m nervous and I’m excited… this is another first for me… my first ever music video.  We’ve tried to capture the essence of the song… which essentially is welcoming people into each other’s world.  I was very keen to add some Indian elements into the video… from the styling right down to the ‘thumkas’.  I had a great team involved in creating this video and I’m very excited to share it with the world!”

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Devraj Sanyal, Managing Director, Universal Music India & SAARC added, “Priyanka’s debut international single “In My City” has broken all records in India becoming the fastest as well as the highest selling `single’ ever in India. With the release of the video now, which is absolutely stunning and showcases Priyanka on par with any other global pop superstars, we are confident of another huge spike in sales for the single both physical as well as digital. The video will be backed once again by our creative marketing campaigns that will ensure visibility of the top order to make it one of the `most viewed’ videos of 2013 while at the same time paving the way for follow-up singles and then of course Priyanka’s highly anticipated debut International album!”

Photographs: SCP Team

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Anjeza – A dancer turned singer since age of 7!

“I FELT LIKE I WAS HEARD, SEEN, APPLAUDED, UNDERSTOOD & LOVED. I FELT THE WORLD & THE WORLD FELT ME!”

– says Anjeza Gega to Priyanka Singhal

ED: How did singing happen? Was it a childhood dream or you realized it at a certain stage? Tell us about the whole journey.
Anjeza: Singing was always an extension of my existence. As a child, I loved watching festivals and singing in Italian. At 9 years old I became fluent in that lan-guage and memorized every well known songs. Fal-ling in love with music was not a choice, was a ne-cessity. Music, acting, and dancing completed each other. They made up this magical triangle that kept me safe. Inside that triangle I felt I existed. I felt I was heard, seen, applauded, understood, loved. I felt the world and the world felt me.
ED: You’ve just released your first album. How does it feel to see your album going out to the world? Has the feeling sunk in yet? 
Anjeza: It is definitely a beautiful feeling. You feel alive. You are moving. You are existing. And your dream picture start slowly transforming in a tangible desti-nation. You are definitely more inspired. But with me, achievements take a moment to sink in. I am always looking for the next step that sometimes I forget of the one that I just accomplished. My dream is to change the world, so often I get caught on the idea that I don’t have time to think of the present becoming past, but rather on how the future will be-come my present.

I know this might sound as if I am not enjoying every moment, but I truly am. My biggest joy is climbing the steps and being closer to making some-one smile, strong, beautiful, motivated, touched and transformed by my love and work.

ED: Has singing always been a passion for you? When did you dream about releasing an album and when did it turn into reality? How has been the response towards the album?

Anjeza: Yes, I always loved to sing. However, being consid-ered by your family “the smart child”, was not of advantage to me. While I craved to pursue art (ballet, music, acting), my mother, a teacher by pro-fession, would try to inspire me to pursue educa-tion, the safe route as they call it. However I man-aged to follow my heart and mind at the same time. Living in a financial disadvantaged family, where both parents struggle to make the ends meet, atten-tion on my artistic achievements were very small. They always saw it as a passion that would proba-bly fade away. To my happiness and their surprise, destiny took another route. While pursuing educa-tion and art…Passion for the second one increased. Music, Dancing, Acting, School, Work, I juggled them all.
Releasing an album has been a passion since a child. I tend to make this dream goals that are bigger then me at the present moment but that become part of me in the near future. It’s all about faith, trust, work, focus, discipline, love, and passion. You need to be honest to yourself. You need to tell yourself, is it love what I am pursuing, or is it just cool to do it? Is it my life? Or is it an option? My professional singing career started in Greece. I was performing cover songs in different venues. But the true singing opportunities became reality when I moved to Los Angeles, 5 years ago. One profes-sional achievement led to another until I released on I-tunes and 28 other digital medias my two singles “Fuego” and “Still Believe”. The response has been very good. And that response increased even more when I released the music video of my single “Fuego”. Putting the vocal work into a visual pro-spective made a difference.

ED: Everyone has an idol, someone whom they want to be like. Who is your singing icon?

Anjeza: I don’t have any idols, nor icons. I allow myself to get inspired by simple events, complicated issues, truth, and reality. I do like different artist, such as Lara Fabian (for her vocals) , Pink (for the raw songwriting), Shakira (for her charity work) etc. But I respect my individuality more. I don’t do good at following. I have always been a leader. And when it comes to my music I like to be me and have my own sound that is true to my heart. This mental-ity has been reinforced by my songwriting, by being a part time creative director, choreographer and pro-ducer of my own projects. I see a bigger picture. I understand the surface and the depth, and I love the process. I am the architect of my own career, and I love building and decorating something unique, that hasn’t been seen before.

ED: You’ve finally released your first album. When do you plan to start working on your next album ?
Anjeza: I am ready to start the new album as soon as I meet the right team to work with. It is important to work with someone that understands your vision and speaks the same language you do. It’s important to be a team and artistically grow during the process. And most importantly is necessary to feel comfort-able and be yourself in your working environment. However, these ideal situations are not always pre-sented. You just need to be solid on what you are looking for and not compromise.

ED: Since we know you can speak 6 languages, is there any chance of seeing you make a multi linguistic album? And do we ever hear you sing in any of the regional languages of India?
Anjeza: I have a knowledge of 7 languages. Albanian, English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Japa-nese. Although not fluent in all of them, I can sing, read, understand and translate accurately 5-6 of them. Is one of my goals to perform and record a multi linguistic album. Last Christmas I worked with a song producer in recording a cover song “Silent Night” in 4 languages. I sang the Albanian and Italian version, while another singer sang the English and Spanish version. One song, 2 singers, and 4 languages. It was beautiful. The unity was priceless.
I actually performed this year in Las Vegas. I worked with an Indian singer Parthiv Gohil. I sang in Hindi, English and Spanish. I performed “Dhoom Machale” as a solo accompanied by dancers, “Soniyo” and “Tera Hone Laga Hoon” with Parthiv and the dancers. I had to memorize the hindi songs. I think I did a pretty good job. The Indian organizers were left speechless, and the American guests thought I was Indian. (Well I was all covered by jewelries and Indian attires. They couldn’t see that I didn’t look Indian.) (hehe)

But it was definitely a great experience. I love In-dian music, clothing, and hospitality.

ED: We’ve heard you’ve travelled a lot. Which of your travels has been the most favorite? Tell us about the most adventurous thing you’ve done on your travels.

Anjeza:

Every country has something amazing to offer, be it people, culture, experiences. Each of them carves a memory in your heart and mind and teaches you something you didn’t know. Each of them expands vyour soul just a little bit more. If I had to pick one of them, I would say Greece. I lived there for al-most 2 years. I was studying psychology while working as a dancer and singer. Introduced in two different realms of life, education and art with no knowledge of the Greek language. Luckily 90% of population spoke English. It was a very challenging time in my life. My education choice was difficult. My desire for art was big. I continued to balance them again. I loved every moment of it. Greece was the country that first gave me the opportunity to be a professional singer, buy my first microphone, per-form on different stages, etc. was difficult and my desire for art was growing. I continued to balance them again and loved every moment of it. Greece was the country that first gave me the opportunity to be a professional singer, buy my first micro-phone, perform on different stages, etc.

My Greek lifestyle was a challenge and an adventure in itself. Many Greek people did-n’t like the people from my country. (Albania) So when I was involved in the entertainment industry there, I said I was British. (I spoke great English and I had blonde curly hair- they didn’t understand accents over there at the time). In many venues I told people my name was Oresta, the name my father wanted to call me when I was born. I was having fun with my new identity. Oresta from England. I became a character of my own movie. Before, mov-ing to U.S. , I told many people the truth. And sadly, they walked away, no matter how long or how many memories we had built.
A typical day in Greece was this. Wake up in the morning, walk to college (40 min-utes), stay there until 5pm, back home , get ready for the show. Study for 2 hours. Per-form at night. In between performances, I would sit in my green room and study for my psy-chology test. Walk back home at 2am. Sleep 2 hours. Wake up and start from the top. It became insane. My body couldn’t handle it and my health start deteriorating. But I couldn’t give up what I loved and I couldn’t disappoint my parents and their investment on my education.
It was a crazy great adventure, that I will never forget.

“IT IS ONE OF MY GOALS TO PERFORM & RE-CORD A MULTI-LINGUISTIC ALBUM.” 

ED: Usually after the first album release, music sen-sations shift their focus towards concerts and live shows. Have you thought about doing con-certs or any other musicals? How do you think would live singing be different from the re-cording?

Anjeza: perform in some great venues such as Conga Room, Mandalay Bay, La Fonda, Geisha House, Skinny Lounge, The Joint etc. It has been a great experi-ence and I have had the opportunity to work with great people. The difference between recording and live performance is day and night in my opinion. While recording gives you an ability to achieve per-fection in the sound and be more focused in the visualization of your lyrics and notes, a live per-formance gives you more freedom to walk away from that perfection and just become one with your audience. A true artist needs to know the difference and most importantly accept it. When you perform pop music, like myself, is hard to stand in front of the mic, without moving and just worry to hit the notes to perfection. I don’t. In a live performance the artist needs to learn to let go and be spontane-ous. Sometimes you will ad lib, other times you will make up a lyric, or cry from the emotion of the song, some other times you might sit on the corner of the stage and sing from there. I felt compelled to do that on stage while performing a cover of Nata-sha Bedingfield “Soulmate”. I curled up on stage and kept singing. I was a girl in pain of not finding love. The audience reac-tion was priceless. Seeing a performer bringing to life a common life experi-ence, is a memorable identification. I love per-forming in stage. It is home to me. It’s exactly where my triangle (music, dance, and acting) starts to shine. The lights are an inspiration to me and when my hand touches the mic and I hear my own sound, that’s when I feel my dream is real.

ED: We know that apart from singing the songs, you also pen down the songs yourself. Who inspires you to write your own music? Is there something particular that you write about? How does it feel at the end?

Anjeza:I have been writing since childhood. I had this fascination with metaphors. I enjoyed expressing my-self in an artistic way. Most of the people didn’t understand me. I enjoyed it. I liked being compli-cated, different, a foreign code. I thought being common was boring. Artistic expression was beautiful. Scientific explanation did not make sense to me. I wanted every truth to be overwhelmed by the touch of love, truth and passion. I write many poems, quotes, and songs. I am also planning to write a book soon. The preliminary title is “The eternal image of a heart that bleeds love.”

My inspiration does not derive from a precise destination. I can simply get inspired by an image in the movie, a friend’s life, a personal story, truth, a de-sire, a wish. I just allow myself to be touched and be taken in a world where art gives birth. And when I am done..I feel one strong emotion…my work is my baby.

ED: There are so many people who love and get in-spired by you. Any message for your fans. For people who want to start their singing career.

Anjeza: 

My ultimate goal in life is to be a source of inspira-tion, a tool of difference, a voice of change. Seeing this makes me happy. Everyone in this world is a beautiful unique being packed with blessings and talents. I advice my fans to invest their time in knowing themselves. Learning what they really love. And then focus. Appreciate every minute of life and shine in what you love. Expand. Learn. Travel. Get to know your soul. More you know you, clearer your path will become. Stop watching others make their dream come true, It’s time for you to live yours.
As far as people that want to start their career, I ad-vice them to be bold. Take the first step. Trust you. Don’t calculate much. Let your heart lead you. Many time people don’t feel ready. You will never be. So just take the step and learn in your journey. Every step of the way has a different equation. And the only way to resolve it , is to live it. Nobody will teach you the stage presence. You will probably never be able to control your nerves, but I promise you will get used to them.

Know more about Anjeza aka Angie Gega http://www.facebook.com/ANJEZAMUSIC

Mumbai Calling… :)

“After having been to different places like Kolkata, Indore, Mumbai and then to New York, the famous singer, Reenie Mansata returned back to her home country, INDIA. “

I AM FINALLY INTO THE PROFESSION OF MY DREAMS AND IT IS WHAT I AM MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT – MUSIC, I CAN’T BE HAPPIER! says Reenie Mansata to Priyanka Singhal

You have been to different cities like Kolkata, Indore, and Mumbai and then New York, how has your experience of different cities shaped your music?

My living in different cities and countries along with all the musical influences and styles that I have experienced has perhaps resulted in the creation of my own individual style as a singer and musician. It has further broadened my outlook in the way I appreciate and understand different genres of music and has increased my openness to all kinds of music without any reservations or boundaries.

I was born in Kolkata, a place known to harbor immense creativity and art of all forms. Indore, is where I grew up learning Indian classical and semi-classical singing at home, it is another culturally rich hub and the home of some of the most well known Indian classical musical Gharanas, along with many of today’s famous musicians, writers, poets and actors. Mumbai, the home of ‘Bollywood’, was where I studied further, the urban face of India and the center of the film and entertainment industry. I went on to live in New York for another 10 years, which was a completely different and liberating experience. It is a city of dreams, opportunity, professionalism and freedom! I got exposed and familiarized with different kinds of western music genres like hip-hop, RnB, electronic, jazz etc.

I was inspired and recorded my first album with a Pakistan based producer called Mahmood Khan and released a CD titled ‘Rahey Tu Rahey’ in India through Nupur Audio in 2004. After that album, I decided to approach and work with a main stream New-York based producer, David Anthony. That resulted in the making of my second album titled ‘Reenie’. It was a Hindi-pop album with a fresh and international sound due to my collaboration with an American producer. All this was possible only due to being and living in different places…

You seem to tread your own path. Instead of going for Punjabi rapping, you went for Hindi rap and since then the trend has been set up in Bollywood for it. How was the decision made to do something so innovative and radical?

Well, for starters, I am not Punjabi and do not know or speak the language. Rapping in Hindi seemed like a cool option to me as it worked well and many a times, we get used to thinking and acting in set ways until we move out and see things in a more objective and holistic way. I did use a Punjabi rap in one of my songs from the album ‘Reenie’ called ‘Hey DJ’ too, and it sounded great! 

From the times of Bob Marley, Reggae has undergone a sea of changes. How has your experience been of working with Maxi Priest? 

Maxi is a legend in his own right. With multiple #1 hits on the Billboard charts like- ‘I just wanna be close to you’ and ‘Wild World’ to name a couple, it was an honor for me to sing with Maxi Priest. The collaboration was very fruitful. Both of us combined our strengths and brought value to the table. Fortunately, our voices blended really well giving the song a very cool vibe. I was clearly very excited about the collaboration and opportunity to work with Maxi and he was open too as he had never worked with an Indian singer before and enjoyed the interesting mix we made.

I am happy to now see this trend kick in Bollywood of collaborating with western artists such as Snoop doggy dog with Akshay, Kylie Minogue and Sunidhi Chauhan with Enrique. It’s the future, and I have felt this way all along.

What kind of music do you generally listen to?

I enjoy listening to all kinds of music especially Pop. The good thing is that due to the entire fusion-taking place, popular music, commonly referred to as pop have changed and progressed a lot and become a lot broader in its range. I also love listening to Reggae, electronic and hip-hop.

Any upcoming albums or any Bollywood offers in the pipeline?

Well, I recorded a rock song for a Bengali movie that released late last year. I haven’t worked in Bollywood yet and have been busy creating, recording and performing my own music so far. But yes, I am open to Bollywood offers as I think that it is churning out some great music lately and it has progressed a lot over the last decade.

How has the journey from being an aspiring fashion designer to being a celebrated musician been?

He He… Well yes, I did want to be a fashion designer when I finished school, but that changed in a matter of time. Life is very unpredictable…Its like, one step leads to another and I’ve realized that the only thing that is constant is change!

Until the day you die, you can keep doing different things and that’s the beauty of life. I did study fashion designing in Mumbai and then did a diploma from F.I.T, New York in Fashion styling, and even worked as a stylist with MTV. After all of that, I discovered that I was very intrigued by professional make-up and so went for it and did a professional course in the same. I then went to N.Y.U and studied broadcast production and went on to be a Television host in New York at an ethnic channel there called ITV for over 5 yrs. Now that I am finally into the profession of my dreams and what I am the most passionate about, Music, I can’t be happier.

Every thing that I studied and have practiced in the past comes in handy for me now in my current profession as a singer and performer. I have the ability and edge to style myself and do my own make-up for my own concerts, interviews, shows or even parties. It sure is an advantage to say the least. Of course, I have professional people to assist me on shoots, videos or bigger concerts, but I can be self sufficient when required.

How was the experience with Mr. Mahmood Khan on your 1st album ‘Rahey Tu Rahey’? 

It was fantastic! He is a very talented producer and a great songwriter. He has a distinct style to his music and that’s why you can note that my album ‘Rahey Tu Rahey’ has a totally different sound as compared to my second album “Reenie”. I met Mahmood in Amsterdam for the first time where we recorded the songs of the album “Rahey tu Rahey”. It was a very different and unconventional experience as we recorded the songs in my hotel room with his sophisticated mike that he brought with him and the whole project was put together without even visiting the studio except during its final mastering. The songs from that album sound good till date and seem evergreen.

Are there more cross border collaborations in the pipeline?

Hmm…Well yes, tie-ups with David Anthony, Mushtaq, Livingston Brown and Maxi Priest were some of the collaborations in the US and UK that I have worked on. Next month I am flying to New York to collaborate and work with some more artists from the West. Keeping my fingers crossed for some substantial work that I hope to do…

You gave your first live stage performance at the Seventh Indian Telly Awards 2007, how different is it compared to UK based live stage shows?

Well, that was basically a very grand and fancy award show versus a concert which is different in the way that a live music stage show or concert is more about the music and performing to the crowds unlike an award show, where you are performing live, but keeping the television broadcasting of your performance in mind.

The experience at the Indian telly awards was terrific and the audience was quite good and responsive. It was a very professionally conducted show of very high production value. I was very glad to be a part of it and think that it was a rather grand way to enter the Indian market as a new artist giving my first live performance on a platform that big.

How has the journey from NY to Mumbai changed the human being “Reenie”?

Well, living in New York was a life changing experience for me. It’s a different world out there. New York is by far my favorite city! It is a true melting pot where people from all countries, walks, cultures etc of life live and exist together in an amazing fashion. It has the best of all worlds. America in general, I believe is a friendly and meritorious country that welcomes and rewards talent, efficiency, expertise and professionalism and New York further takes that to another level. New-York still feels like home to me as much as India does. I studied, worked, socialized and actually took the plunge into my career in music on a professional basis while I lived there. Fortunately, I continue to travel a lot and manage to keep visiting NY amongst other places, which is a blessing. The most important change that I have come to realize about my self after living there and encountering and dealing with various situations, experiences and lessons is that I have become a more tolerant, understanding and mature person. I am blessed that overall today I feel stronger, more grounded and at peace with myself and feel that ‘I am loving and yet more detached’. I expect less and try to love from strength and not need. It’s a very empowering feeling! Lol…

How yoga and meditation help you in keeping you alive and singing?

Yoga is a great form of exercise and also a good way to internalize. Its gives me a proper work out and cover breathing and meditation as well, which are most essential in life. Meditation is basically reaching the state of no mind. Meditation doesn’t only mean that you sit straight with crossed legs and just breathe, the way we tend to think of it generally. To me anything you do with a 100% concentration where you have no other thoughts is meditation.

A state of bliss where you become the one with whatever that you are doing, be it cooking, dancing or singing. I sing when I meditate. It’s a great tool of expression and a way to experience the beauty and existence of higher dimensions. It illuminates you to then further spread your light in the universe.

Please walk us through, how the ‘Jayagena’ happened?

‘Jayagena’ is the team anthem song that I composed for one of Sri Lanka’s provincial cricket team, ‘Wayamba Elevens’, now called ‘Wayamba Wolves’. It is the team that won and represented Sri Lanka at the Champions League tournament last October held in South Africa. After the success and positive response to that song, I was approached to compose and produce the team anthem songs for another 4 teams and the tournament song for the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) that is to start now in August of 2012 due to an undue postponement from this August.  I collaborated with David Anthony on that song and with German producer ‘Miza’ on a few of the team songs to bring out a very fresh, international and different sound. I worked with top Sri Lankan artists including celebrity duo Bathiya and Santhush on the songs for the Sinhalese parts. It was a very exciting exercise despite of all the chall

enges due to language and cultural differences and carrying out the task of successfully producing commercially viable music for a foreign country with a passionate and musically sensitive and inclined audience.  To get this going, I flew to Sri Lanka several times and joined forces with Bathiya & Santhush (BNS) who are from Colombo. I joined hands with them because I wanted someone from that country to add originality in voice and delivery. I sang some of the English parts in the songs.

Initially, before I made my way to Sri Lanka to record vocals, I had to dub the first song in Mumbai itself due to limited timelines and

inorder to make that happen, the greatest challenge I faced was of translating my lyrics and composition into Sinhalese. It was difficult for me to even objectively judge the translation due to not understanding the language. I just didn’t know any better. It was a strange and almost funny problem, but as they say in show-biz, ‘the show must go on’ I had to do what I had to do and get the job done… and I did!

Is there any specific reason for your return from New York to Mumbai?

After having worked extensively abroad, I wanted to move back home and continue my journey ahead here in the motherland. Also, I have realized that after recording and releasing 2 albums in India, the local presence of an artist is imperative. It’s the only way to spread and promote your music. It also helps in remaining active in the music industry and be available for live shows, performances and interactions with the media. An artist has to be situated in his or her primary market, and India is surely mine!