We recently introduced you to Kamal Khan, the new singer on the block and even gave you a small taste of his fab first song ‘Pariyon Ki Rani’. Now we have even more from the actor turned singer. Kamal says he always has loved singing. His thirst to pursue his artistic passion came after performing as a lead role in his high school play as “Tony” in West Side Story. A musical, we must note! After training and performing at the National Youth Theatre in London, he spent some time in California, USA at Drama School. He returned to the UK and was instantly engaged by a London talent and modelling agency. One of his biggest breakthroughs came in the West End Fringe, playing the lead of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. The UK Press praised his abilities to succeed as a South Asian actor in the Shakespearean world. He has now relocated to Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA to be close to the heart of the movie making and performing arts industry in Hollywood. While pursing parts in Hollywood, Khan has continued doing music as well. By chance he met up with a producer from India, Sumeet Chopra, the two instantly clicked, and decided to lay some tracks done together. Today Kamal is ready to present his first song and video to the world, but more on that in a minute. We caught up with Kamal last week to chat about his music, the lovely Pariyon Ke Rani and what he hopes audiences will take away with them when they hear his tunes.
What went into your decision to record an album?
I was always pretty passionate about my singing and music. My friends can tell you that all I need is any excuse to start to break into song It all started when my parents, particularly my dad used to put music on and I used know them all by heart. I kind of got into the old ones, the new ones, the classics like Rafi so I would say it started from there. I was really passionate about doing an album of my own and doing some tracks from scratch. It’s kind of one of those things where you feel I really want to do my own original stuff. I don’t want to be known for just doing covers – that’s not as creative – and doesn’t let you express things in your own way. This producer I met in London, Sumeet Chopra, it was great because we had an instance sort of connection and wanted to put something together…
Describe your sound to us.
I think it’s very much modern, but it also has Bollywoodesque pop classic feel to it. My tracks, I think, also have a techno-electric flavor to it as well. It’s pop, but it’s got techno-electric. That’s what really unique about it. Being unique doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to everyone – the lounge version of ‘Pariyon Ki Rani’ is universal in my opinion.
The first track you are releasing is ‘Pariyon Ki Rani’, tell us about that song.
Sometimes you can express life through your songs and I was going through a long distance relationship and I thought this would be something that would be good for a song and it’s a song that others can relate to. I really feel like it’s timeless. I mean it can be in a movie perhaps, it could be playing while you are driving your car, you can listen to it in a lounge even. That is the lounge version and there’s also the remix version, which is more for the clubby side. Whenever I have performed it or had it played I get some of the best feedback, people have said it’s got a really good vibe to it. It’s one of the tracks I really enjoyed doing. It’s one of my favorites.
I really like that underlying Indian flavor and beat that it has.
Yeah, I really love the sitar. And like you said it has that underlying Indian beat and the sitar is that. If you got the sitar going, then you know it is an Indian song. Obviously the language too, but if you just had the music on you could tell, if you are familiar with it. We do have one where I just play the music too and I had a lounge restaurant just snap it up once they heard it for their background music!
Tell us about the cool video for ‘Pariyon Ki Rani’.
It was a lot of fun. We shot on a RED camera which I’d not done before. I tell you what the amount of effort we put into it to put it together was a lot, fortunately we had a lot of help, a lot of excited volunteers and I appreciated that the most. Since LA is so eclectic I was surprised how many non-desi’s were hooked on doing something Bollywood – it’s a pleasant surprise! Gosh it was tough! The first day shoot was 3:30 in the morning for a desert shoot. It was almost 24 hours because we wrapped at 1 am. Next day we had to shoot in the morning so you can just imagine… But I loved every moment of it. It was my dream to have a music video for this Pariyon Ki Rani song. I look forward to so many more, but this was really great.
What other tracks can we expect?
We got a few other tracks, some things are pretty new and refreshing, but again sticking with that same theme of classic Bollywood that also very much has a modern feel and an electric vibe to it.
We will definitely have some romantic songs. I love doing them and the words and the lyrics are special to me. So you will see more of that coming through for sure. In the next one after that, I am planning to write about the kind of state where we are in this world and taking it to a different level. But at the moment, I am sticking very much to where I’m at in terms of the kind of experience I have had: whether it’s with love or life in general. So there are some themes that will come through in the next tracks in the album. It is all about passion and that is what my theme
What inspires you?
Life – I feel there’s so much of life to live and so little time, but we have to make what we can with it. My parents inspired me, they worked hard. Things were not always smooth for them but my dad was able to do many things and worked very hard to achieve them. He learned to speak 6 languages for example. For me, it’s not about suddenly sitting down and writing, I actually get ideas through a period of time and then I pull all those ideas together. For example I set myself goals every year and I seek inspiration from those that excel and do for others – I am always amazed by what people do for others by sharing their knowledge. I am singing for a charity event next month. I want to do even more for charity in the future.
What would you say are some of your influences?
From an Indian musical perspective I would say Rafi, Rahat and Sonu Nigham but I have always been influenced by Elvis. Elvis had a range and voice that needed no instruments and even if it did – it was a bunch of simple chords that he made sound amazing. Nowadays you have so much technology – back then you just had the basics yet he could lift audiences with his voice and range. Finally my dad was a huge influence in being determined to achieve one’s goals. He passed with cancer some years ago and althought that was very tough it inspired me to do more after that – to fulfill my potential and dreams as well as appreciate life, friends and family more.
Has training as an actor helped you as a singer?
Well, you got to be able to perform and you’ve got to engage with the audience and the acting definitely helps you because it helps you project and have a stage presence. You will also be able to tailor your music to your audience so that you know who you are performing to and engage them with confidence.
What do you hope people will take away when they hear your songs?
What I really hope they take away is that it will mean something personal to them. When they are sitting there, for example, and they are with their boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, whatever it is, that they say this song really reminds me of this time in my life as well. They can relate to it and they can enjoy it and have that same feeling as well that I am having. I really want people to empathize with it as much as possible. I also want them to be able to enjoy the diversity of the music. So they don’t just focus on the Indian music in general and a specific area, but say his music crosses all boundaries, languages and cultures hopefully. I really hope that that also happens because I do think it is truly international.
Is Bollywood calling as an actor or singer or both?
I don’t know. I am open to it. I like doing the TV and film work here, that is my goal here in Hollywood. But if the right thing came up then and of course I can sing my own song while acting then haha, why not?
Now for a special treat just for BollySpice readers, you get the first exclusive look at the full video for ‘Pariyon Ki Rani’!