“I’m 38 Years Old But Mad Like A Boy”

Kailash Kher’s earthy voice has lent itself to soul-searching lyrics and music. With his band Kailasa, he has fused Sufi, pop rock and classical melodies. He has also performed cameos in films, judged music reality shows, and is the brand ambassador of Nepal Tourism. EXEC caught up with him on the eve of his concert in Bangalore.

What everyone calls Sufi is actually: Nirgun Sangeet, a Sanskrit word used to describe poetry that worships God. It is ultimate romanticism as these feelings spring from imagination. Sufi, meanwhile, is a Turkish word that became known during cultural exchanges between the countries a few 100 years ago, and has now become a “cool” term.

Music is: our way of seeing things.

I define my style of music as: Kailasa, which means ‘divine’.

My advice to budding musicians: is to follow your own instinct, and don’t succumb to desperation. If you go nuts, you will lose your way. Listen to good music. Do not hurry. I know you want to climb Everest but you don’t have to do it right now. I am 38 years old but mad like a boy. It keeps me excited about the coming day.

How my musical process works is that: I am not a thinker – I feel. When I am at the right stage in life, it gives me a song. New thoughts and motivation come in, there are sparks, and the words and tune just come into being.

The first song I ever wrote was: when I was in Delhi, going through a bad phase. The lines went like this:

jogan ban ban ghumu, bairagan ban ban ghumu

ha mai teree chaukhat chumu

mai teree aur too meraa,

albela sajan sajan meraa,

albela sajan meraa

I am a nomad, and going to remain one. I have no destination, and this is what God intended for me. My songs are a reflection of myself.

The turning point was: when I battled with depression, and was suicidal. I had left home at a young age, and was doing odd jobs and some business. This was around 2001. I was in Mumbai and decided to give a musical career a last attempt. In my head, I told myself that I would either succeed in this field or die by drowning myself in the sea.

I became an ambassador for Nepal Tourism: mid-way during a performance in Nepal. I was talking about the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra beginning from Nepal, and the organisers were impressed and asked me to be the ambassador. So, during the show, they felicitated me and announced me as a goodwill ambassador.

As a part of Coke Studio, I: jammed with Tamil singer Chinna Ponnu. It was a lot of fun. I wrote and composed my bit. The track was by Leslie Lewis. There were no artificial sounds – just us singing. It was a fusion of energies, like Masala Dosa and Pani Puri, and like how I was born in Meerut, grew up in Delhi, living in Mumbai and now, standing in front of you in Bangalore.

How do you want to be remembered?

I don’t want to be remembered. Just remember yourself.

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