After years of being a traveling musician, fueling his wanderlust,Titi Robin returns to India to release his new album. In his delectable French accent, he talks about his musical journey, the long and passionate affair he has had with this land and his new pet project – a tribute to India and her music.
By Ayswarya Murthy; Photos: Vasanth Kumar
Even at the first glance you could tell Thierry ‘Titi’ Robin has an artist’s soul. It’s his eyes that give him away, as they invariably always do – a gentle grey, they cloud with passion every time he talks about his music. As the band gets busy with the tuning and sound check for their Bangalore gig, Robin looks positively alive with energy, with no trace of the strain he must be under, with performances scheduled in 4 Indian cities in one single week.
He conjures up a copy of Laal Asmaan and introduces it as his ‘new baby’. It’s a unique collection of tunes – haunting gypsy melodies played out on traditional Indian instruments. ‘It is something I have been wanting to do for a while now. I have incorporated much of what I learnt from Indian music over the years into my own and I decided it was time to give back to the culture that has inspired me and my music in so many ways.’ He considers his latest album a humble gift to India, it’s people and their rich musical heritage.
It is part one of his global project to pay homage to the musical traditions that have influenced him strongly. The Moroccan and Turkish counterparts of Laal Asmaan are to be released in their respective countries over the next few months. Talking about the recent release of the album in Mumbai, Robin says, “Compositions like these would hold more meaning with the local audience than, say, the American audience. That’s why it was so important for me to release the album in India first and then the rest of the world.”
Robin is also a prolific poet, having penned down the lyrics for his latest album, and spends most of his time away from music immersed in the world of poetic metaphors. Living in a quite French countryside, he admits to not being a big fan of the life on the fast lane. “I give a lot of importance to friendship, family and human relations. I enjoy nature, simple, good, wholesome food and beautiful poetry. The quiet life and the little things…”
On being asked about his early days as a musician, he reminisces, ‘It was before the whole World Music Movement and most producers and recording companies didn’t really understand my music. The greatest struggle was to remain strong and keep going. Some days you feel fragile, you feel afraid and that’s when you have to push yourself to believe.” And it has paid off in a grand way. Today he is one of the most respected world musicians (although he objects to being categorised as thus) with a wide patronage across France and Europe. ‘I have always stayed true to my own style of music, played only my own compositions and never made any compromises in the search of money or success. I feel that’s why so many people continue to follow my work.”
And the newest addition to his fan base may be his local driver in Mumbai. “He was literally holding my life in his hands, shuttling me around the city, and so before I left, I gave him a copy of the CD.” And did he like it? Robin shrugs, “I probably have to wait till the next time I am in India to find out”. Well, judging by the standing ovation he received at the Opus, it is highly probable Laal Asmaan has already made it to the good man’s Most Played list.