The Aneesh Vidyashankar Experience
Music is an ethical law. It gives spirit to the universe, wings to the mind, and charm and gaiety to life. This is how Plato described the beauty of music, and somehow, I feel I can easily connect it with the way Aneesh Vidyashankar – a Bangalore based artist – creates music. I recently caught up with this effervescent artist to learn a bit more about his passion for all things music and the impactful ways in which art can be used as a vehicle for bringing people together.
Me: How would you describe yourself as a Musician?
Aneesh: My definition of a musician is a person who skilfully creates music or someone who has chosen music as their profession. It is completely up to a person on how they would like to be addressed; what’s important is that they are skilled at whatever they do.
As for me, I see myself as a mad practicer. I have set my own standards and created my own criteria when it comes to achieving the level where I can call myself a “musician”. For now, I usually prefer the sobriquet, “The Wireless Walking Violinist”, transforming one soul at a time!
Me: When did you start and how did you start your musical journey?
Aneesh: Bangalore has been my inspiration in many ways. Growing up in the city, my frequent trips to Lal Bagh Gardens, Tipu Palace and Iskon Temple gently honed the love of music in me. These spaces which were laced in a beauty that drew me towards them are deeply etched in my memory; spaces which remained unscathed from modern influences. Such experiences at an early age acted like a catalyst to increase my awareness to my soul and my inner world that I am still discovering today.
I was three when I started my first violin lesson from my father who was my tutor. He has been and continues to be my biggest inspiration!
Me: What are some of the personal attributes and habits that are most important as a musician?
Aneesh: The expectations from a professional musician are very high these days. While band members usually take up the roles of a manager, promoter and booking agent, solo artists juggle between all of these roles or maybe even more. They gradually understand marketing and promotion more deeply as they try to find their own gigs and promote themselves. In a way, they are much like entrepreneurs who create their own product and then persevere to find out ways in which they can make an impactful entry in the market with their products so that people notice. So to be successful, musicians need to drink deep from the knowledge that the different facets of professional music unfolds for them; enjoying every bit of the process.
Another thing that is fundamental for every profession is practicing the art every day. With practice, a musician will continue to improve and learn new things in the process, eventually being better than most others.
Me: What inspires you to continue do what you do – explore and create music?
Aneesh: Since the beginning of my creative life, the supreme source of inspiration for the music I create is the intricate and timeless movements of life within the natural world. My deepest desire has always been to express these influences through sound. For me, music should touch the soul – so the music I create represents the different states of consciousness, where the frequency is always changing but the source of the transmission continues to be the same. My creative process usually starts with a musical loop. Then I listen to what I have and add layers until I feel like I have something that inspires me to create a storyline.
And inevitably, every time I step on to the stage, the rest of the world turns oblivious to me as I transcend into my own universe which enthuses in me the spirit to perform time and again.
Me: What has been your fondest memory during this journey as a musician?
Aneesh: My fondest memory is of the time when I performed for an audience of over 35,000 people at a meditation meet. After the completion of my performance, I was glad to find a number of people coming up to me just to touch my hand and tell me that I was blessed to be able to create such soulful music.
Music is powerful in its own way. It can strengthen the weak and weaken the strong. It gives people a medium to communicate, displaying emotions, sending across a message or a calling that has the ability to unite people for a good purpose or simply to distance the feeling of loneliness and bring together camaraderie among people. Music personifies different emotions and gives people reason to believe that they are not the only ones experiencing overwhelming emotions of anger, joy, pain or love. In that way, I think music helps us find a common ground.
For me personally, music has helped me find purpose in my life. Music allows me to express who I am in the most authentic way, and for that I am deeply grateful. I see each new day as an opportunity to enhance my persona as an artist as well as an individual.
Me: If you had to do it all over again, would you do it differently?
Aneesh: Absolutely not! I love composing because it has shown me how to channel the negativity from painful or challenging phases in my life and turn them into something more beautiful and meaningful. It also enthuses in me the need to capture joyful memories and bring them to life through my melodies.
I’m incredibly blessed to say that my passion is also my career. It gives me the ability to strive for more and put all my energy into my compositions at this point in my life. It’s such an amazing feeling to get to do what I love whilst working towards building momentum in my career; continually working towards what the next 5 years of my life will shape into. I’ve never been so motivated and excited for the future. I view life as a journey and I’m excited to see where it takes me.
Me: What personal advice you would you offer an aspiring musician?
Aneesh: My advice is to be true to who you are – the one thing that makes you unique. Give music the ability to become an extension of your persona, a reflection of what you believe in. Look for a way in which your music stands out, something that helps you stay distinctive by creating matchless content.
The concurrence of evolution and re-branding in an artist has become the need of the day as they try to match their creations to the reactions of their listeners. While your music may be unquestionably outstanding, you have to continually garner the interests of your audience. For an artist, it is not always easy to see a reflection of their own creations. Sometimes, the outcome may not be what you had anticipated, so my advice is to be ready for the uneventful knockdowns and gird yourself to get up and try again. Practice, practice and then practice some more.