RISING STAR Songster Meetu Chilana is looking beyond being categorised under ‘world music’. A. MATHEW ANTONY
American Born Confused Desi (ABCD) is a sobriquet given to most first or second generation American born, Indians. Meetu Chilana is one among them. A crooner from the US of A, Meetu is a first generation American Indian with a voice that makes one want to listen to more. With looks to match, she is sure poised to be yet another ‘rising from the East’ diva. NXg catches up with the singing sensation.
Congratulations on the release of your first EP. How has the response been?
People seem to have a very positive response to it. Musically, there are different styles presented and everyone seems to be touched by this EP in one way or another with a favourite song. It’s a product of passion. It is music that is intriguingly different yet comfortably familiar.
Your Hindi/ Punjabi is crisp. Has it been many years/ generations since your shift from India?
Why, thank you. My parents came to the States two years before I was born so I am first generation in America. I spent a lot of my early years as a child with a Pakistani babysitter who taught me Urdu and let me watch a lot of television in Hindi/Urdu. My parents and grandparents spoke to me in Punjabi growing up (especially when they yelled at me!) and school was all about English. So I had a pretty good headstart on all those languages. Watching Bollywood films with my family and going to India every 3/4 years to visit also kept my Hindi somewhat fresh until I took it seriously in college as a course of study.
How badly does advancement of technology, read piracy, hurt?
I think for the music industry in general, nowadays, piracy is a part of the game. Yes, some might make more money by selling the recordings and music alone, but I’ve embraced digital media as a way of getting my music out to my audience. I think the people really losing money are the record companies. Artistes still have their live shows and with enough dedicated fans can still make a living.
Is ethnicity an issue in world music?
I am who I am. My genetic make-up has roots in India and Pakistan, but I am connected to music from all over the world. I have Spanish and African influences too, so what does that mean? The world has so much music to offer. How can we just put it all in one category called “world”? I don’t think World music is about ethnicity. It’s about sharing cultures and being open minded.
Don’t you think that being a master of one style could get you more commercial viability?
Maybe, but at this moment in time a versatile selection of songs is what I chose to put out there as an introduction to my talents. What is commercially viable is not up to me. I can only continue to make music and put it out there for the audiences.
Destination Bollywood, have you pitched as yet?
I spent some time in Mumbai earlier this year but most of my time was focused on my own music projects so I haven’t really focused on finding work in Bollywood. The few people I did meet were very keen on working with me though, so I’m looking forward to coming back to India in the near future to do so.
Any plans on India, shows, etc?
I’m in the process of working on my first album and I’m positive I will be making the rounds in India as soon as it is released. This past April I did a show at the Blue Frog venue in Lower Parel, Mumbai with Ustad Sultan Khan’s son Sabir. There are many more shows to come. I send out regular notices about all my shows on Facebook and Myspace (myspace.com/meetu) so that’s an easy way to keep informed. See, technology is wonderful (laughs).
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