Former Euphoria guitarist Hitesh is a now a singer-songwriter and frontman of Eka. Hitesh, who branched out into solo production, last year, under HRM (Hitesh Rikki Madan), has recently released his new single - 'Gal Sunn Zara.'
In an interview with The Free Press Journal, Hitesh talks about his debut album, most memorable performance with Euphoria, the inspiration behind his latest track and more.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Why did you decided to part ways with Euphoria?
It was a natural course of progression that my career underwent. I had already built my own recording studio in 2003 and founded my music school, Aria in 2005. There was much I aspired to do in terms of music production, collaborations and achieving self-actualization goals, which would only be possible with moving ahead towards new challenges.
How difficult has it been for you, as a founder of Eka, to emerge as a frontman-singer-guitarist?
Firstly, there’s a lot of effort required if you’re playing and singing. On top of that, being a frontman has the additional responsibility of interacting and connecting with the audience. I worked hard on each of these aspects and especially on my singing in the initial years.
As a live performer, you are as good as your last performance. Big or small, I made sure that I gave my very best to every gig I performed as if it were the last gig of my life. Seeing the smiles on people's faces at the end of our gigs was my biggest reward and when we started getting repeat shows from event managers and clients, it indicated we were doing things right.
Secondly, there was a perception that I was a guitar player, only. The world judges you by what you have done and not what your potential could be, and for 14 years in Euphoria, I played guitar. It took many years for me to break out of that mould and establish that I was not just playing the guitar but also singing and donning the role of a frontman.
What’s been the biggest challenge of your career so far and how did you overcome the same?
As a member of a team, there’s a thin line to tow in meeting the expectations of the team and doing what you envisage.
Till 2020, I’ve only been a part of bands and there was always a sort of boundary in terms of creative expression.
The biggest challenge for me has been to put out what was in my heart and mind, which I finally overcame when I launched HRM, my solo career as a singer-songwriter-producer, having complete control to explore my creative capabilities and present to the world exactly what I want to and in the way I choose to.
As a singer, what do you think is your biggest weakness?
One of the biggest learnings I’ve had over the years is that what I thought might have been a weakness, actually made me unique and could in fact become my strength. I focus more on the uniqueness of my singing than search for weaknesses.
Weakness, to me, means opportunity, because there is strength in discipline and practice.
Having said that, I would like to admit that my vocal health is one of my biggest concerns and the challenge is to have my voice trained to its full potential and for it to remain in that state.
What has been your most memorable performance till date?
In 2000, Euphoria was invited to perform at the Beale Street Music Festival aka Memphis In May. It was a 3 day event, with multiple stages set up along the banks of the Mississippi river.
Clearly my most memorable live performance till date, where I was performing with 69 artists and bands that I grew up listening to and admired, including Foreigner, Collective Soul, Little Richard, Bryan Adams to name a few. The music, the vibe, the stage, the production, the audiences, everything about that place was a dream come true.
Tell us something about your latest track Gal Sun Zara.
'Gal Sunn Zara' is my first attempt in writing and singing a song in Punjabi. It talks about the desire to reach out and express love.
Musically, this almost-six-minute song goes through an emotional ride, which I was able to express sonically through a wide range of sounds using different variants of the guitar including Electric, Acoustic, Bass and the Ukulele.
A mellow start, with a lilting melody, it builds up to a high energy track with some great performances by Kunal Netrapal on the drums, Anindo Bose on the keys and Sanjeeta Bhattacharya on the female vocals.
The video has been directed by photographer-director Vishesh Verma and features Shivaani Sen (Mrs South India 1st RU).
Where did you get inspiration for the song?
Music and songwriting comes to me through my experiences and I feel blessed to have the most loving and supportive partner. Payal, my wife, is not just the inspiration behind this love ballad, but someone who has always pushed me to raise the bar and realise my full potential.
'Gal Sunn Zara' is one of her favourite songs and that was my biggest motivating factor in sharing this piece of my heart and mind with the world.
What are you currently working on?
I have more songs that I’m working on and plan to release over time, so you should be able to hear new music coming from me through 2021.
It will all culminate into my debut album which I’m calling - 'Break Ke Baad'. I have recently designed an online guitar course called ‘Connect with the Guitar’, tailored for players of all levels, starting from the very basics and covering all that it takes to deliver a complete performance. I am excited about this because this will make guitar learning possible for aspirants in remote areas too, where people do not have access to music schools, all at a very affordable price.
And like most of my fellow musicians, I’m also hopeful that I could get back to performing regularly for live audiences as before. ‘