Going International: a Raghu Dixit interview
"We could see the crowd running from the main stage towards us..."
Virtual Festivals - 14 March 2012
VF's Tim Butcher spoke to Raghu about their unique sound, their reception in the UK, and their prospects as an international band.
Of all the bands performing at Bushstock Festival this Summer, the Raghu Dixit Project can surely stake the claim to having the most existing fans. The band is already very well known in their native India, having stormed the charts there with their debut album ‘Antaragni’, which was the best-selling non-Bollywood release of 2009.
They’ve also enjoyed a respectable degree of success in the UK, having topped the world music charts after a successful performance on Jools Holland last year. But 2012 is the year that the group sets its sights on becoming a truly international name – and it’s at Bushstock that it all begins. The outfit’s frontman – Mr Dixit himself – says he is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m glad we’re going through this longer, tougher route, - its definitely much more pleasurable,” he says. “We’re enjoying every bit of it. It’s a pleasure to play to new audiences, and see those surprised eyes just sprout out, and then suddenly the happy smiles happen, and before you know it everybody has joined the party and is singing along.”
He seems very optimistic – and perhaps with good cause. The band’s sound is one that already feels like it crosses borders with ease - partly due to the multitude of cultural influences that it draws upon. Throughout the course of ‘Antaragni’, you can hear not only the presence of traditional Indian folk, but also rock, reggae, blues and pop.
“It’s just the way our country is right now,” says Raghu. “We are very proud of our roots and culture, but at the same time we are completely embracing the technology boom like so many other countries around the world. The idea, the concept of the band is to hang onto our roots very strongly, but at the same time make the presentation very global.”
The group says they always find it a joy to play in England. But when they first came over here in 2009, Raghu says crowds didn’t know quite what to make of them: “Initially, we were an object of curiosity. The music was odd and we were wearing these colourful clothes and people were thinking: 'Ok, is this really Indian music?'”
It was playing their first English festival gig at Lovebox in 2009 that convinced them they had a future here. “We were given a 2pm slot in the afternoon on the smallest stage. When we first went on, it was just one lady with two kids in the audience. But halfway through our first song, we could see the crowd running from the main stage towards us, and by the end of our set we had about three and a half thousand people dancing!
“That kind of affirmed my faith that I should be devoting money, energy and time into exploring the Western market, that we could make it work. Since then, we have not had a single bad gig ever in the UK. Everyone there has been so kind.”
They’ve got the sound. They’ve got the attitude. And, clearly, they’re getting the fans. It would seem
that now, if The Raghu Dixit Project wants
to make good on their goal of reaching international notoriety, all they need to do is keep on playing.
Bushstock 2012 takes place at various venues in Shepherd’s Bush, London on 2 June, with the likes of Marcus Foster and Lanterns On The Lake also confirmed so far.
Bushstock tickets are available now, with early bird tickets priced at £22.50.
Click to buy Bushstock tickets.