In Conversation With Varun Rajput, Founder, Antariksh
Antariksh, a New Delhi based Hindi Rock act is the first of its kind. Founded by music composer, performer, and producer, ‘Varun Rajput’, Antariksh is renowned for creating a beautiful blend of authentic Rock/Pop styles of music with contemporary Hindi Music. With an experience of playing over 500 gigs across the world, the band’s live shows are not just your typical rock gigs, but a power-packed, mesmerizing experience that distinguishes a “regular show” from a “concert”.
From their first album ‘Khoj‘ which means ‘search’ in English, they have been producing some fabulous pieces of music since 2012. They have a very unique, introspective, and unadulterated way to represent the theme of a song they create. Be it ‘Aashayein, ‘Tum’, or ‘Na Jaane Kyun’, you can clearly see the soul-searching they must have done while writing those songs and thereby tying them together into a thematic album like ‘Khoj’. Having received a warm appreciation and adulation across the country for their music, Antariksh is celebrating 5 years of their existence and gearing up to release a new song soon for their fans.
Thousand Miles: What is the inspiration behind the formation of your band ‘Antariksh’?
Varun Rajput: The biggest inspiration behind the formation of Antariksh has been to bring an edgy, authentic and eclectic Rock music to mainstream Hindi music. Also, I used to play for various progressive English rock bands during college days and always had a dream of producing a full-fledged album– another major inspiration behind forming Antariksh was to realize that dream, which I believe we did successfully in 2013 and are still at it as we continue on our musical journey.
Thousand Miles: Tell us some interesting facts about the band members and how did you guys come together?
Varun Rajput: As far as the story goes, I and Mridul used to play together in a rock band called Feedback during college days and GT(Gurtej) used to play for Prestorika. In 2012, Mridul and I left our jobs at management consultant firms and GT also came along and we started jamming to create some music of our own for fun. Within no time, we realized that we’d written three really cool songs, which happened to be ‘Na Jaane Kyun’, ‘Tum’, ‘DheereDheere’. I always had this dream of becoming a full-time musician – the moment I realized that we had some momentum, I pushed everyone to take this more seriously and take a shot at forming a band and doing this a lot more seriously. That’s when we locked down on the name Antariksh and began writing our first album, ‘Khoj’.
Thousand Miles: Your First Album ‘Khoj’ is highly rated and received warm appreciation from the music lovers. Tell us how did the project of ‘Khoj’ Start?
Varun Rajput: I remember quite clearly back in December 2012, I had this very serious conversation with Mridulabout taking the band more seriously to see if we could turn this into a full-time profession.I had been pushing everyone for a really long time, because somewhere inside, I strongly believed that it was possible. Obviously, there was no way it was going to be easy – after a lot of deliberation, we decided that ‘Let’s give this six months and then we’ll take a call whether it’s working or not. Until then, we’ll work at it day in, day out without any doubts’. This is when we began writing the album and we hit the studios to record it between April and June of 2013. I’m so glad that we actually went all in and gave it all our energy and time. Now, when we look back – we feel super proud of it and are of course thankful for all the love and appreciation it received from the music lovers around the world.
Thousand Miles: Share with us your most memorable live gig or event.
Varun Rajput: Oh! We have plenty of those. To point out few memorable ones: our first album launch gig was definitely one of them – it was a very emotional moment. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears had gone into creating the album. Another gig that I can’t forget was in Jamshedpur at Carmel Junior College back in 2014. Recently, the ones at NIT Hamirpur, IIT Delhi, IIM Rohtak, were also absolutely mind-blowing.
Thousand Miles: Any other national or international Music band that inspires you?
Varun Rajput: Absolutely – there’ so much of amazing music all around which has inspired me differently at different points of time in life. Some of my favorites are Swedish progressive rock band Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Queen. Amongst Indian artists, I am a huge fan of Thermal and A Quarter, A.R. Rahman, Amit Trivedi to name a few.
Thousand Miles: How was the experience at TEDx event?
Varun Rajput: It was absolutely fantastic. TEDx is such an inspirational platform. We’ve played at two TEDx events and it’s been an insane amount of fun both the times. At the most recent one at TEDx JIIT, we played a short and sweet acoustic set – totally looking forward to many more of these.
Thousand Miles: How did you guys come up with such beautiful lyrics every time? Is continuous jamming the perfect tool for it?
Varun Rajput: Firstly, thank you so much for your kind words. We are glad that you like the lyrics and music. I believe that the process of lyric writing requires a lot of iterations and more often than not it gets much better with every iteration. Our approach is to be just plain honest and write about topics that we feel strongly about. So more often than not, you’ll find our lyrics have a very introspective, analytical, questioning tone to them because somewhere that’s who we are. I guess the perfect tool for writing lyrics is just being honest with yourself and being rigorous about getting better at it.
Thousand Miles: Tell us about the collaboration of your band with other musicians.
Varun Rajput: In our first album, Khoj, Baiju Dharmajan, an absolutely amazing guitar player from Kochi played a guitar solo on our song ‘Tum’. Our mixing engineer and dear friend, Gaurav Chintamani had played a guest solo in our song ‘Aashayein’. We also had Sid Mathur from Quarter Note Studios who played the Bass on ‘Aashayein’. We have a quite a few new collaborations lined up for some of our upcoming songs.
Thousand Miles: How is Antariksh different from other bands in India? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Varun Rajput: Well, there are many great bands coming up these days. We try and distinguish ourselves in two ways: operationally as well as musically. By operationally I mean, I have always treated Antariksh as a company or an organized start-up, which helps in operating in a very diligent and professional manner. It also helps you building a solid foundation in terms of the music business as well as craft an impressive brand which, you can continue to grow over time.
In terms of musicality, we’ve tried to create our space as an authentic, edgy, and premier Hindi Rock band. When we’d started the band, there were some really good folk rock music bands around – there were great pop bands singing in Hindi, but the world of Hindi music didn’t have a pioneer rock act. That’s where we dived in and tried to create our space as an authentic, intricate and classy Hindi Rock act and we’re continuous trying to make it bigger and better.
In next few years, we plan on taking our music around the world and hopefully spreading good vibes and smiles across the globe.
Thousand Miles: What are some of your upcoming projects? What your fans can expect?
Varun Rajput: We have been writing a ton of new material. We have quite a few songs in the pipeline and one such song is ‘Kaahe Re‘ which is scheduled to be launched by the end of this year. Do stay tuned! Lots of cool stuff coming your way!
Thousand Miles: Your advice for the novice or budding musicians in our country. What should they do to get people’s notice for their music?
Varun Rajput: I believe there are two things that I can say, first one is “Stick it out long enough”. More often than not, it takes a good long while to get the attention of people to whatever it is that you’re creating and most people give up way too soon. It’s simply called the gestation period, which you need to survive for anything good to happen.
Another important thing I’d suggest everyone is to introspect and be clear about the musical path you want to choose. Of course, along the way you might find something else interesting and you might want to pivot – but to start with one has to have a lot of clarity and focus. That could mean choosing clearly between becoming a session musician or a band member; that could mean choosing clearly between becoming a live musician or a music arranger/producer or both. Whatever it is – be very clear about it. Don’t get stuck in the middle. I’ve seen most people have their feet in stuck in different boats and do a shoddy job at both.
Thousand Miles: Your thoughts on being featured in ‘Winter’ Issue of our magazine ‘Thousand Miles’.
Varun Rajput: Thank you so much, guys. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. We are looking forward to checking out the magazine. Thanks for having us on board.
Cover Image Credit: Tushar Mahajan