Kartik Sundar, Class of 2020 Taru Dalmia, the Delhi-based artist popularly known as Delhi Sultanate, is
Kartik Sundar, Class of 2020
Not many people had heard of Raghav Meattle prior to Banjaara, but the crowd that rushed to take pictures with him right after his performance is bound to change that. The singer-songwriter is from Delhi, currently residing in Bombay for his music career. After his appearance on The Stage, where he made it to the semi-finals, Meattle quit his corporate job to pursue music full time. Raghav arrived at Ashoka University for a set at Banjaara, where he performed several of his original songs as well as some classic covers.
What impressed me the most about his set was the presence him and his bandmates had on stage. Playing with such rapture and confidence, he drew in more and more people by the minute. Opening his set with a cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”, he immediately grabbed the crowd’s attention. Some of his original songs, like “Better Than It All” and “Bar Talk”, got the crowd grooving along to his energy. It might have been close to thirty degrees outside but that didn’t dampen the mood. The entire concert was a purely happy experience, with people singing along and waving their hands throughout. On the crowd’s insistence, he closed his set with a cover of one his favourite artist’s most famous song, “Budapest” by George Ezra. Laid back yet soulful, the green-eyed heartthrob did not disappoint an eager audience. His cheerful brand of music was perfect for a warm Sunday afternoon.
Raghav is as calm and chill off the stage as he is on it. Before his performance on Sunday, I sat down with him for a short discussion about his experience as a musician so far.
Kartik: Your rise to fame came from The Stage; what was it like being on the show? Did you improve as a musician?
Raghav: I was actually working a job before I was on The Stage, so [it] was definitely great enough a platform for me to quit my job. In terms of the kind of music I write and the stuff like that, it [was] completely different because it [was] a cover kind of show. But it gave me the kind of confidence to be able to push my music out; there was no way otherwise I’d have been able to quit my job and do this full time. It was a great experience because we spent two months with like fifty singers. That was amazing, to get to meet singers from all over the country. Plus, I’d been out of touch with music for about three years. I hadn’t played a single live gig. So, The Stage really helped because, suddenly, I was thrown into it.
Kartik: In college, was your inclination towards music different or has it been the same throughout?
Raghav: I used to play for a progressive rock band so, yeah, very, very different. That’s also because now, I’m playing the guitar and composing myself, whereas earlier it was a joint effort where five of us used to sit down and play. That way it’s changed a lot, but playing live is a similar thrill.
Kartik: What’s your creative process like?
Raghav: I’m a writer more than a musician, I feel. I’ve just been writing since I was seventeen years old, and I’ve been doing it for the last nine years. I’ve made it a point to write something every day. Some of it is rubbish — most of it is rubbish but it just gets you in that flow. That is something I’ve done consistently; so I feel, now, it’s become a lot easier since I have tons of things already written, and I just keep combining stuff. So, it depends, sometimes a melody comes to me before the lyrics do, but most of the time it’s a lyric-driven process..
Kartik: Is it an individual process or a group effort?
Raghav: I do it alone. I like the process of having that feeling, then I jam with other people. The melody gets sorted with my guitar itself, then the bass and drummer add their elements to it. It becomes a product from a stripped-down version to a band.
Kartik: I’ve heard your covers of artists like Passenger and George Ezra. Are those the artists you are inspired by?
Raghav: I listen to a lot of singer-songwriters. I listen to everything but the most amount of attention would be to singer-songwriters. Damien Rice, George Ezra…Mayer is like the biggest influence. Yeah, lots of Brit Indie bands as well.
Kartik: Do you see yourself continuing down this same style, or would you want to experiment beyond it?
Raghav: I’m actually doing a lot of other stuff also. The singer-songwriter space is something I dearly love because I feel like it comes from a very pure place, and it’s very creative-driven. I don’t care about whether it’s financially amazing or not. That is something I want to keep doing five years from now. Apart from that, I’m working with a producer right now in Delhi and we’re doing electronic music, so that’s completely experimental. All of that keeps happening on the side but this (singer-songwriter style) is something very personal that I want to keep doing. I spend lot of time on that, but it’ll take five years, ten years to breakout.
Kartik: I saw the video to one of your songs, “Better Than It All”, which seemed really personal. What was the process behind that song and video?
Raghav: I moved to Bombay, and it was my first week in Bombay after quitting my job. It was a lot about uncertainty and the point of it was if you never try, you never know. The video happened because this friend of mine, who does all my videos now, and it was a really great process, I was playing a gig and I told him to come down for it, and I knew there wouldn’t be too many people because we hadn’t promoted it. So, the whole idea was we show five, six different groups of people to look like it’s packed, but then we pan it to my POV (point of view) and it’s empty. So, yeah, it was good fun.
Kartik: Across all the gigs you played, which place would you say you enjoyed playing at the most?
Raghav: I played The Little Flea, it was amazing. There were like five hundred people sitting down before we even started playing. It was really nice. It had a vibe. There were like two-three thousand people. I feel like my music responds more to an older audience — it’s softer acoustic, while the younger lot likes louder styles. When I was in college we used to play a lot, we played in IIT Delhi which was great. The college battle of the bands we had were also great fun.
Kartik: In terms of other Indian artists, Parekh & Singh, for instance, who are playing today, are there any you’re inspired by or fans of?
Raghav: I’ve been a fan of Parekh & Singh since 2013. Back then it was just Nischay Parekh. I go for like two gigs a week, and I love watching live bands. Some of my favourites are Peter Cat Recording Co. and I love Prateek Kuhad. I also love the Ska Vengers, Delhi Sultanate, and I just love listening to and finding Indie music.
Kartik: What plans do you have for the future in terms of pushing new music, tours, and so on?
Raghav: I’m currently doing a new album, so that’ll take about two months. I’m trying to do as many things as I can ’cause I’m still new, only been doing it for a year. I want to collaborate with a lot of people with different ideas, and I think that’s what’s on my plate for the next one year.
Raghav’s music is only growing more and more by the day. He’s scheduled to perform at The Bar Cat in Delhi on the 3rd of March. Look out for his album’s release as well as any gig he is performing at, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.