Pianist, music producer and playback engineer, Clinton Charles, played live along with Diljit Dosanjh at Coachella late last month. The musician who began playing the piano since he was just five years old, has collaborated with Bollywood singers and indie musicians, and talks to Bombay Times about his music, his work and what being on stage means to musicians. Excerpts…
How was it being a part of Coachella with Diljit?
Coachella was a surreal experience! It was a matter of great pride to be among the first Indian musicians to perform at this festival. Diljit completely mesmerised the audience with his sensational performance, and that can be seen on the Coachella Instagram page.
How is performing abroad different from Indian gigs?
Coachella had a very culturally diverse audience, as we had people from all over the world attend and watch the shows there. It was a special concert especially watching audiences singing and dancing to every song we played, even though they may have not understood the language. Often, our overseas concerts are predominantly Indians or people of Indian origin, but Coachella was definitely a unique experience.
What is the best thing about performing live on stage?
It's an unexplainable rush of adrenaline to perform in front of thousands of people. The best thing is people get to know you through your music. Live performances are all about giving your energy to the audience and having them amplify that energy and send it back to you! Standing on stage and seeing a huge sea of audience cheering for you is a truly breath-taking view.
Being a pianist - is it tough to get gigs?
I definitely think it's incredibly difficult for a newcomer to get gigs consistently and sustainably by just being a pianist. But for me it’s different because I'm also a playback engineer and I specialize in running a software live, which makes a huge difference in both the quantity and quality of gigs that I have access to. I feel the need of the hour is to encourage the youngsters to complete their higher education until post-graduation and keep pursuing music by the side as the music industry is a really high risk- high reward job and networking plays a major part too, so a backup plan is a must. I myself have a computer engineering degree and a diploma in finance management and I always have that to fall back upon.
What do you feel about the current music scenario in our country?
I think Indian music as a whole is growing immensely. Not only Bollywood artistes, but a lot of independent artists today are putting India on the global map with international collaborations. The future is bright and exciting.