by Fatima Yamin

It was one of those unseasonably warm winter nights, when it just didn’t feel like Toronto. Thank you global warming, for working on days I need to be in high heels! Yes stilettos in this year’s great white northern winter, but I had good reason; I was handling celebs for a high-profile event, and today was the night we’d meet our “charges”.

As I hob-nobbed with the cream of North American desis that night, and my feet started feeling the pain of shoes that look so good but feel so wrong, I decided to take a breather by the fireplace. Trying to rub my feet discreetly, without garnering attention, the sudden voice behind, startled me.

“An appletini might fix that faster.”

A handsome young man, with dreamy, sea-brown, eyes stared down.

I mustered an “I’m not drinking.”

“Appletinis are not drinks, unless you believe everything Facebook tells you.”

I managed to eek a laugh, as the mystical stranger walked away, my friend T nudged: “So you met Raghav!”

Oh lord, I couldn’t believe I’d just wasted my brush with greatness, with an imbecile-one-liner! But, how could I have guessed with his unassuming ways. It explains why the Globe & Mail refers to him as one of “Canada’s best kept secret in the arts.” The rest of the evening was spent trying to make up for the error of my ways. Raghav, the gracious soul that he is, sat down and let me quiz his brain.

What emerged was a very down-to-earth musician, who has not bought into the glitz and glamour of the star life-style. An artist, who can’t care less about the formulas of making fast money, instead only working on music he believes in.

Bibi: First of all, congratulations on the Juno & Canadian Radio Music Awards nominations. We are so excited about seeing you at the awards!

Raghav: I’m excited to be back in Toronto.

Bibi: Tell us more about the much nominated single, “So Much”.

Raghav: Its special to me because it’s the first time I have a Canadian release, so my parents and family got to hear it the minute it saw the light of the day.

Bibi: In many ways, “So Much” is being touted as your comeback, why the gap?

Raghav: You release records when they are ready; it’s not so much about assembly lining up single after single. It’s about the right song. Stevie Wonder had 7 years between albums, but look at the bar he sets. Things happen, I wasn’t ready to release something internationally until now. I did release an album in India in 2009, but its effects were local.

Bibi: Your newest single “Fire” is being touted as a sure-fire dance hit. Tell us about your hopes from this track, near the release of your album aptly titled “The Phoenix”?

Raghav: I never ever hope for any kind of success from any record, chart or number. All it does is set you up for disappointment. You go into the studio, and you end up making non-genuine records. “Fire” is different, it’s got this energy, and I hope everyone likes it. It’s universally translated to move the feet or the soul.

Bibi: Fire” seems to be a departure from your signature raggae style?

Raghav: I haven’t really departed from my style, but this song is a stand-alone experiment. That circle never stops turning. Besides, there should never be a limitation to diversity in creativity. Who knows, I may come out with a rap number next.

Bibi: What is your creative process?

Raghav: There is no formula to my music, it varies. And I don’t believe in making records for a particular reason. When it’s done you can have that discussion. You just have to make the right record and make sure it feels right.

Bibi: You’ve worked the span of three continents, which has been by far the most rewarding experience?

Raghav: This is going to sound uberly politically correct—especially since I have had most of my success in Asia, Middle East, and in the UK—but there is just something special about working in Canada. It’s home.

Bibi: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Raghav: Stevie Wonder, also Michael Jackson, but I am also a very big fan of early Bollywood. That’s always been great inspiration. As a kid I remember sitting in the back of the car, while my mother had on some of her favorite Bollywood tapes. One day company was over, and much to my parent’s amazement, I parroted the songs I’d been hearing in the car.

Bibi: Its like you were born for this. None-the-less, from a childhood in the oilsands of Fort McMurray to a Juno nomination in the span of less then a decade, you’ve come a long way baby!

Raghav: You know I never ever imagined that my name would be up in lights. For god’s sakes my name is far too hard to even pronounce. But the truth is I’m not much good at any thing else. At one point I considered being a songwriter, or managing musical acts, but somehow this just evolved.

Bibi: Who would you love to work with?

Raghav: Stevie Wonder, yes I know at this point you must be wondering about my love affair with Stevie, but he’s just such a complete musical act.

Bibi: Who do you credit with your success?

Raghav: My family, they have been unequivocally supportive. I am nothing without them.

The night faded, the appletinis flowed, Raghav moved away to tend to tedium of being a celebrity. The music…it played on…




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