Don’t make music for the numbers: Benny Dayal – The Hindu

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October 08, 2020 04:40 pm | Updated November 27, 2021 04:11 pm IST – Thiruvananthapuram
Benny Dayal
Besura gaata hoon, main bhi singer hoon, aise gaane aajkal zyada views laata hain, jitna besura hain utna natural hain, label wale bolte feel bhi zyada hain… (I sing out of tune, I am also a singer, such songs get more views these days, more discordant you sound, more natural it is, [music] label guys say it has more feel).’
That’s Benny Dayal at his sarcastic best. The lines are from his latest Hindi single, ‘Besura’, which he says “is my heart on the plate I eat these days”.
Benny has written, composed and sung the track, which is the first song of his EP, SHOSHAL MEDIA MUSIC . “‘Besura’ talks about my frustration as to how musicians feel after learning and training in classical music for so many years and yet don’t receive any recognition for their hard work sincerity and diligence”, explains Benny in the video.
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He caught up with MetroPlus over a Zoom chat from his home in New Jersey, in the US. Excerpts:
Trigger behind ‘Besura’
I was disheartened by the approach of certain people to music. We learn music to become good musicians and it is a sublime feeling when people appreciate you. Fame is all that matters for many youngsters. Their aim is to make videos, post them on social media and get likes, views, followers and subscriptions. I get videos on my social media pages asking for feedback. There are some good artistes and I tell them to keep working hard. But there are quite a few who have no clue about what they are doing and, incidentally, their videos have more views than those who deserve the appreciation.

Writing the song
Words just flowed! I reached the US from Mumbai in August. One day, while checking messages on my Instagram page, I was taken aback by the quality of some of the videos. I couldn’t wait to put down my bottled-up thoughts. Once I figured out the chords on my ukulele and finalised the track, I sent it across to fellow musician Raajeev V Bhalla in Mumbai. He was excited about ‘Besura’ and even pointed that there were no grammatical errors in my lyrics! He came on board with his banjo and bass guitar. My portions in the video were shot in a park near our home by my wife [Catherine Dayal].
Response from the industry
They were happy and was like, ‘Truth had to be told’. The song is not meant to hurt anybody or to create a feud. My point is that if you are putting up a video, do it properly! Nobody is perfect. But practise holds the key. That brings finesse to your song. Don’t make music for the numbers. In fact, ‘Besura’ itself hasn’t garnered a lot of views. But I am happy that I did it.
There are four songs and I have written three of them. All of them are in the same flavour. I deliberately named it SHOSHAL because that’s how some people pronounce the world ‘social’! (laughs).
Music today
Not many composers are using harmonies. Earlier, musicians would suggest including them to add layers to a composition. Now the focus is on the higher and lower octaves. That has become the trend and I don’t know where this is heading to.
Beating lockdown blues
I can’t wait to get on the stage. Since that’s not happening soon, I am channelising all my energy into making songs, videos and recording tracks at home. Lockdown was a much-needed time for all artistes to make their own music. I have been doing that since 2009-10, playing with indie bands and writing songs. Musicians the world over are doing that, thus becoming the face of their works. I recommend fellow artistes to create their own productions, even as they do film songs. In India, films are the reason why many of them want to become musicians.
Looking ahead
Film songs will always be there. Alongside I look forward to explore new aspects of music and try something different. But the main thing is I want to keep my work appealing. I don’t want to be a cerebral musician or make music that people don’t understand.
Being stereotyped
People might say that. But I don’t think so. I prefer to do whatever song that comes my way. And if I feel that I haven’t done a song in a particular genre, I will make one and put it out there, thus getting it out of my system.
Current projects
Shakuntala Devi has been the latest Hindi release. Many exciting projects are yet to be released. During the lockdown, I sang ‘Jee Le’, a composition by Raajeev. The video featured musicians Vishal Dadlani, Salim Merchant, Armaan Malik, Jonita Gandhi, Sidharth Mahadevan and the like.
Finally… thoughts on SPB [SP Balasubrahmanyam]
He has been an inspiration. I sang my first song, ‘Ballelakka’ [from Sivaji ] with him. My voice is in the chorus. I shared this with him on the sets of Super Singer on Vijay TV. It was a memorable moment and I clicked a picture with him. I was touched when he took my hand and placed it in his for the camera. He used to say, ‘I know I am a good singer but I am not such a great singer’. That is the sign of his greatness.
Music Personalities / The Hindu MetroPlus / Thiruvananthapuram / film music
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