Prateek Kuhad Reveals If He Still Gets Jitters On Stage, ‘I Try To Be Quite Blank….’
Singer Prateek Kuhad, when asked how he is reinventing himself in the world of indie music and maintaining the fan base he enjoys says, “I like to push myself artistically, more than anything.” Prateek, who’s one of country’s most celebrated singer and songwriters, had no plans of being in this field initially until his college days in New York where he played his first live show in 2011. After an extravagant performance at Vh1 Supersonic, the 33-year-old exclusively spoke about his journey in indie music, his biggest takeaways and all things in between.
Do you still get jitters before a performance, even though you have performed multiple times?
Normally, no. I simply try to be quite blank before a show. I do experience jitters sometimes, though I’m not sure why. It happens very randomly, but 90% of the times nothing happens.
What are some of your favorite tracks that you enjoy playing for your audience?
Prateek Kuhad: I truly enjoy playing The Last Time, For Your Time, Shehron Ke Raz, aside from cold/mess. These are a few of my favorite songs.
Kaise Jadugari was an instant hit with Shashwat Sachdev! What was the creative process behind it?
I’ve known Shashwat since I was 16 and we were in Jaipur. We attended the same classes, so it happened very randomly. At that point, he decided to study music while I was studying Math at NYU. We weren’t in touch because we weren’t best friends; I only knew him, and we hung out a couple of times. Then, many years later, in 2013, when I moved back to India and started making music, he reached out to me, and we got back in touch. Both of us were attempting to build our careers. When I was in Bombay, we hung out at his studio. He had a song that he wrote, and he asked me if I wanted to sing and play guitar on that track. He believed my voice would make it sound fantastic, and I was also excited about it, so I agreed. So, we recorded this track 10 years ago. Then it just got sacked. He probably never considered releasing it. I also forgot about it. Recently he played it to his label team, and they really loved it, so this is the story behind the song.
When did you know you wanted to take music as a full-time career?
During college, I realized that music is something that I connect with the most and would like to pursue further.
Being one of the OG music artists in the independent music scenario, how has that journey been for you?
I actually don’t have a key takeaway. I am still trying to figure things out, but I’m always like that. I’m still figuring things out in life. Thankfully, I’ve just become a better performer overall, and I’ve also got to know a few things I’m good at.
You have a massive fan following. How do you balance between what your fans want and the growth you need from yourself?
I just create what I want. To be honest, I don’t know what people will like; it’s impossible to predict what the audience wants. I started doing this because I enjoy writing songs; otherwise, I’d go insane trying to please everyone. In life, pleasing people is like taking yourself to the wrong room.
How have you handled fame?
I don’t really know that much about it, but it’s also kind of new for me. After 2019 many people knew who I was. Through the pandemic, I was at home, and after that, it actually hit me that I’m famous. Before that, it was pretty small. With Kasoor, 2019 was the year that changed a lot of things, and every year we keep expanding. For me, 2021 was the year. It took me some time to get used to it, but now I have found the perfect balance as to how to operate.
You had shared a video back in 2019, when the entire crowd sang Kho Gaya Hum Kahan, and you just played the music… Did that feel like validation?
That was my first time doing anything like that, so it was a real ‘goosebumps moment’ for me as well. I had always been an introverted performer and used to be very reserved and shy. So, when I decided to play on that particular day, I felt great. People actually responded and everyone took their phones out and started singing along.
A few of your songs have been picked up by a bunch of Bollywood movies. Do you ever see yourself becoming a mainstream Bollywood singer?
It’s not even relevant anymore, in my opinion. Several musicians are now doing both, and it’s basically just another thing they’re doing. I don’t think performing Bollywood music makes you a Bollywood musician. ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ is a highly popular song from Bollywood, and I have a few significant songs like Kasoor and Cold/Mess as well, which are perhaps my biggest songs. So, it’s difficult to say which category you would put me in. These lines are really very blurred now as it doesn’t really matter.
How do you keep yourself and your music relevant today among the other Hindi music artists who are there in the same space?
I don’t know how to deal with pressure, and I’m still figuring it out, but I guess I try not to be pressured. My way to deal with any stressful situation is staying relevant and figuring out what you want from life. I could make the same kind of music every year. I have a core fanbase that will be very happy with my music, but that’s one way of looking at it. Just in general, I like to push myself artistically, more than anything. Thus, it has nothing to do with staying relevant but more to do with pushing the limits of my own internal artistic creativity. That’s what I’m attempting to be.
Is there anything you would like to tell your younger self who was studying at NYU?
I haven’t decided; I get this question a lot. I mean, there are so many things, I guess. I don’t even know sometimes what I might tell my younger self — take it easy a little bit, maybe. But then I think if I took it easy a little bit, I wouldn’t have been here. So, probably nothing; I don’t want to mess with the past.
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