India’s Own Kamal Singh On Music, AOL and Culture

India…for Americans who know nothing more than pop culture feeds us, it’s outsourcing, Bollywood and Slumdog Millionaires. Wonder what their vision of the US is? India is of course, a lot more. Much to my surprise there’s numerous alternative music acts coming out of that neck of the woods which is where you’ll find Kamal Singh. Numerous day jobs, the reality of looming eviction and seven are amongst the buffet Kamal deals with. But at the end of the day he’s a musician in India making his way.

Kendra Beltran: When you’re not making music, what are you doing as a day job?

Kamal Singh: I have had a lot of day jobs; waiter, Sunday School teacher, research analyst, customer service exec, and various other things that I don’t remember right now. I also design t shirts. I started a coffee shop but it had to close down. At the moment i work as a photo editor for AOL…I was recently informed that I won’t have this job after the 30th of June.

Kendra: India has a very traditional culture, is your family behind you when it comes to pursuing music?

Kamal: India can mostly be traditional but India is very diverse and has all kinds of things going on. My family is and have been very supportive.

Kendra: I’ve noticed a lot of alt/rock acts are popping up in your neck of the woods, Asia and the Middle East. Why do you think that is?

Kamal: I’m glad. When I first moved to this city (Bangalore) in 98, I was very amused. Kids in college were still listening to Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi…Dream Theatre and Rush (never heard of them before). Death Metal and other forms of “Growling vocal” genres were also very popular. Which is OK, but when you live in a country like India and everybody seems to be doing the same thing, there usually is a problem. It might also be because, most things that happen in India first happen all over the world and in Northeast India and then it slowly trickles into the rest of the country.

Kendra: Do you incorporate a lot of your heritage and culture into your music?

Kamal: Not conciously but yes, in small and honest ways I do.

Kendra: Where do you pull the most from when it comes to inspiration?

Kamal: I don’t know. I think mostly it’s the people around me and the emotions and situations I go through in everyday life.

Kendra: Who has been your biggest musical influence?

Kamal: I have a few; Alanis Morissette, Toe, Deftones, Sonic Youth, Green Day (before American Idiot), Shonen Knife…

Kendra: What is the story behind 3 Sevens?

Kamal: 3 and 7 are very prominent in most scripture…I think I have a soft corner for most things spiritual. The number 7 kind of shows or means that something is “complete”. Did you notice that this was the 7th question. See…it’s all perfect.

Kendra: Where are you at right now in terms of new music?

Kamal: Right now, I’m working on my solo album. I have had a four song demo for over five years and it’s time I recorded all the other songs that I have written. I also play with a band called Lounge Piranha. Ever since the bass player left, the sound and dynamics have changed. A new Lounge Piranha album is also on the way.

Kendra: Goals, we all have them. What is your top three as of right now?

Kamal: 1. There are some legal problems with the house we have and we are being asked to move out, so sorting that out is my first goal.
2. I need to get another job and start making t-shirts again.
3. I want to get the 3 sevens album out this year…as soon as possible.

Kendra:  Are you playing shows?

Kamal: Yes, not as much as I’d like to but enough to feel good.

Kendra: How’s the live experience?

Kamal: It’s gotten so much better. I started playing solo shows (surrounded with metal heads) and singing songs that  I wrote at a point when bands got shows only because they played relevant covers. Today, venue’s are interested in bands that play their own material and bands insist that they don’t play covers.

Kendra; Finally, what is one phrase that would sum up your musical existence in the end?

Kamal: ” Hit me baby one more time.”

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