LEGENDARY MUSICIAN MUKHTAR SAHOTA ON HIS AMAZING JOURNEY AND WINNING SOUNDTRACK

by ASJAD NAZIR

Having gone from being a member of an iconic bhangra band to a respected solo artist, who has worked with world-class talents, it would be easy for Mukhtar Sahota to rest on his impressive achievements.

The British music legend is showing no signs of slowing down after decades in the music industry and has masterminded one of the biggest movie soundtracks of 2019.

He has brought together big-named artists, including Sunidhi Chauhan, The Nooran Sisters, Sonu Nigam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Mika Singh for the soundtrack of Punjabi film Ishq My Religion, which will be released this week and added more blockbuster hits to his name. I caught up with Mukhtar to talk about his amazing journey, music and latest triumphant offering.

Tell us, how do you look back on your amazing journey?
It’s all a learning curve for me and I’m thankful for all the opportunities I have had, good and bad. I am thankful to the artists, lyricists, video directors and the media that I have worked with, as this experience and journey, so far, have made me who I am today. I still look back at some of my projects and think, did I really do that?

Is there any one achievement you are most proud of?
Working with A R Rahman in his studio on various projects, including films.

What led towards you composing the soundtrack for Ishq My Religion?
The director contacted me with his script, which I found interesting and wanted to do something outside the box than the norm of Punjabi film soundtracks.

How does this compare to other projects you have done?
I have spent over two years on this project, which is longer than normal due to locking down the calibre of artists featured on there and range of styles and genres of this soundtrack.

How did you select the amazing singers for the songs?
I pick singers for my songs who I feel suit the song vocally and not just because it’s a ‘singer of the moment’.

Did your creative process change with doing film songs?
Yes, my creative process changed for film songs because you have a script to follow and the songs are situational, which means my music had to gel with it.

What is your favourite song on there?
Ishq Dian Peeran featuring the Nooran Sisters is my favourite track on the soundtrack; it’s a Sufi-qawwali-style song, which is cleverly written by lyricist Shammi Jalandhari. When I first composed and sang the composition to the Nooran Sisters they grasped what I was after straight away and brought it to life exactly how I had imagined it with their energetic style.

Will you be composing more soundtracks and what else do you have on the way?
Yes, I have just completed a full Hindi feature film soundtrack due for release in the new year, and again this features an array of singers, totally different to what I have done before. I have also just released a single track, Dhun with Sanhita Majumder, a new artist who I have introduced and featured on my previous film soundtrack, Raja Abroadiya. There are more single tracks ready for release with new and established artists too.

Today, what is your greatest unfulfilled musical ambition?
I would love to have done a tour something in the same vein as Jean Michel Jarre, with my own sound, but hey, it could still happen!

Today, what inspires you musically?
I’m inspired by the thought of working on a song with a sound that I have not done before. I have always been about trying and experimenting with new sounds and pushing the boundaries.

Apart from your own, what music dominates your playlist?
Most recently, I’ve been drawn more towards the Latino genre and various artists, who I have never heard of before, who are doing some fantastic and inspirational work.

As a musical legend, what advice would you give young musicians?
This is to not just to musicians, but to all youngsters in the entertainment industries – practice your art and keep your feet firmly on the ground. We all are constantly learning and that never stops. Your status has no bearing on your talent and definitely don’t enter the industry thinking you’re already a ‘superstar’. It should be for the love and passion of the art form, not for the five minutes of fame.

Do you have any ambitions away from music?
I would like to produce my own Punjabi feature film. With the experience and knowledge that I have gained, I would like to put that into creating an innovative film in the near future.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently in your career?
Yes. I would have made better business choices with my albums in the 1980s and 1990s and avoided some of the cowboys.

Why do you love music?
Music is an emotional journey. Every emotion that we experience can be caught by music. It’s a way of expressing yourself, that is how powerful music is and that’s what I love about it.

Ishq My Religion is out now