This weekend, Saavn’s got a special treat for you: former Channel V VJ-dancer-critic-musician-producer-director-actor (whew!) Luke Kenny is guest editing our Hindi and English home pages. You can check out Luke’s picks for Song of the Day in Hindi and Song of the Day in English (for our India-based listeners only), along with his specially-selected featured playlists for Saavn Hindi and Saavn English.
We had a chance to chat with Luke, who is revving up for the release of his next film, Rise of the Zombie, later this month. His message for Saavn’s listeners? “Be strong; be true; follow your heart in whatever you do.” (Yes, Luke’s a poet who doesn’t know it.) From all of us at Saavn, good luck with RotZ, Luke! We can’t wait for India’s first zombie origin film.
Here’s the full transcript of our interview with Luke:
Luke, we’re so excited to have you as our celebrity guest editor, especially since you will be our first ever for Saavn English! Thank you for sharing your picks with Saavn’s listeners today. What is your editorial choice for Saavn’s Song of the Day (Hindi) today, and why is this your pick?
I am going to be selfish here and choose “Dil Pukaare” from my film Rise of the Zombie, written by my friend Ankur Tewari and sung by Arfaaz Kagalwala. its a lovely composition and has a very uplifting soul to it. Perfect for a long drive song.
What is your editorial choice for Saavn’s Song of the Day (English) today, and why is this your pick?
Again, it’s a song from RotZ. It’s the title song, “Zombie,” written and sung by me. I wanted to pay homage to one of the greatest pop songs ever written, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” And since the film is a zombie film and “Thriller” also has a zombie theme to the video, the inspiration worked perfectly.
We know you’ve been playing music from a young age. Can you tell us a little more about your musical background, and what instruments you play?
Well, I play the guitar a bit and can find my way around a keyboard. But [I] am more of a hands-free kinda guy, so I attack the mic with a visciousness whenever I get the chance. My dad did his best to try and teach me guitar, but I could never sit still in one place. So that’s how the singing thing came into being – so, [I] have always been the frontman of the band ever since.
Who are your musical heroes?
Almost everyone on the Saavn database! But seriously, there have been many inspirations from different times in my life, each one opening up a new world of music experience. Be it singing, songwriting, performance, poetry, etc. each artist has been uniquely influential in my musical journey.
Are there any albums, songs, or musical artists (in any language) you keep coming back to? When do you find yourself drawn to these?
As time goes by, and our lives get more and more cluttered with ringtones and caller tunes and “Gangnam Styles,” and as music gets more and more decimated, I make it point to listen to entire albums from time to time, as they were intended to be. I have a huge collection of music in many formats, and everyday I make it a point to listen to at least one album in entirety.
It could be a particular song that pops into my head that makes me want to pull out that album, or it could be a new artist i’ve just discovered and want to give the music a chance. Or sometimes I just pull out a past album and see if it still resonates as a test for the music.
Who are your favorite artists/music directors working today, whether in India or abroad?
Again, quite a few to name, and each one has many things to offer. So I try and find the uniqueness in each one and hope that they retain that element of surprise each time they create something different.
We love the RotZ soundtrack…there’s an incredible breadth of musical styles incorporated in this one album. Can you tell us more about what went into the music of the film?
I want to send out a message that the time for independent film soundtracks is here. We keep talking about the abundance of music talent that there is in the country, so why do we not see more of it getting mainstream support? And why are we afraid to give those very independents their due! So every song on the album has been written and composed by the artists themselves, even down to the lyrics and the production of the song itself. And most importantly, they all retain their publishing ownership.
What tracks from RotZ were written by you? Did you have a lot of input on the other songs, or did you give your co-writers free reign?
“Tripwire,” “Blackbird,” and “Zombie” (Hindi and English versions) are written by me, but “Tripwire” was recorded with my band live in a studio. “Blackbird” and “Zombie” have been arranged and produced by Arfaaz and Anurag, a duo who have done a fabulous job with the arrangements. I did give them a few pointers as to the direction the arrangement should go in and the rest of the blanks were filled in superbly by them.
We’re big fans of origin stories, and of zombie stories. Are you a Romero fan? Have had a chance to read World War Z and/or The Walking Dead? Did you come to this film with a passion for zombie tales, or is your first dip in the pool?
Romero is God! As far as the zombie pop culture phenomenon goes – he gave us the modern zombie, absolutely. And every piece of zombie culture created since is in his debt forever. And as a horror film fan there is no way I could escape them, so, yes, passion is everything with this film.
Actor, director, musician – you’re quite the renaissance man! Does any one of these crafts hold a special place in your heart, or would you rather not choose one? Any future plans in the works that you can share with us (hint: Zombie 2!)?
How about 2 AND 3? Yes, RotZ is the beginning of a trilogy that will roll out over the coming years. It’s chapter one, a simple beginning that will get bloodily complicated as we go along. Now that’s a renaissance to follow, in my opinion.
As a musical person, do you face any special challenges working in film? Or is it the opposite – does your musical ability inform your acting and directing instincts?
Music is all about timing,which then creates the sonic experience that creates for aural entertainment, so also when attached to the visual medium, a similar ethic is applied. After that it all depends on how good an arranger you are, or in this case… storyteller.
What indie artists (that we’ve never heard of) should we be listening to?
A band called Freelance Whales, a singer called Jim Croce, and a composer called Atticus Ross.
How has the scene for independent musicians changed in India since you’ve been on it? Do you think it has changed at all? Do you still consider yourself an independent artist?
It has changed considerably thanks to technology. Musicians can now create a finished product on their computers in the comfort of their bedrooms, and release it digitally across various independent sources on the Internet, reaching out directly to listeners. But as easy as it is to be able to do, it is equally difficult to make a living out of it. The backbone of any independent artist remains his or her live performances, and the frequency of which makes the music live and breathe. And if the miracle of mainstream support happens, than we will truly have a utopia of music that stands it own ground on its own merit.
And yes, I will always be an independent artist even if it means having to work for myself for the rest of my life.
Are there any other messages you’d like to share with Saavn’s listeners today?
Be strong; be true; follow your heart in whatever you do.