Dubai singer-songwriter, Arnav Maggo, expands his repertoire with new Hindi single
Aa Chalein Hum Kahin captures the zeitgeist amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s not every day that you come across a musician, who has covered genres that range from folk to rock to heavy metal, yet Dubai’s very own Arnav Maggo begs to differ. He has now cut a Hindi single to add more variety to his eclectic repertoire.
The singer-songwriter, who grew up partly in Delhi, lived in Abu Dhabi, and completed his education in the US, is back in Dubai to be with his family who moved from the UAE capital to the emirate. He started strumming the guitar when was a callow 13 years old but took to music only after completing his studies in New York.
His debut song, It’s Hard Staying Apart, received much appreciation, and despite English being his go-to language, Maggo didn’t shy away from giving his new song a flavour of his ethnic roots. The Hindi track, Aa Chalein Hum Kahin, is a melodious ballad that talks about getting away from it all and embarking on a more meaningful journey. The song dropped in January and is garnering attention on digital platforms amid the Covid-19-induced bleak times.
Maggo, who was influenced by the likes of Queen, Pink Floyd, and Dire Straits, tells Khaleej Times all about his musical journey and his Hindi single.
Excerpts from the interview:
What made you take up music as a career?
I have been into music pretty much all my life. I started playing the guitar regularly when I was about 13 when I first discovered bands like Queen, Pink Floyd, and Dire Straits. I was intrigued by all aspects of music, including playing the guitar, melodies, and emotions. Ultimately, music became a companion for me through all phases of life. I consumed a variety of genres and developed my musical compass and understanding. I was also fascinated by the theory and culture around it.
How was it growing up in Delhi, moving on to New York and Dubai?
It was an amazing environment because there is such a rich music culture in Delhi. Especially in my school, there were a lot of budding singers, instrumentalists, and composers who were pursuing music seriously, so that was a great place to be. Besides, Indian music, I was exposed to a lot of Western music. I shifted overseas right after school and spent my formative years in New York City, where I was introduced to the ‘real world’ after completing college. It was a major turning point for me and gave me a lot of things to think about and express. I think most importantly, the kind of energy I had around me really helped too – my immediate family and friends also have a keen interest in music. I lived in Abu Dhabi before moving to New York, in the meantime, my family had moved to Dubai, so I kept coming here for vacations, and right now, I shuttle between Dubai and Delhi for various commitments.
How did your time in the US help you in your musical journey?
During my college years in New York, I explored my voice and perspective as an artist. I used to collaborate with several local musicians in America and play in bands ranging from folk to heavy metal. I also attended concerts and musicals, both big and small, which kind of got me closer to the art form.
Which artists, styles shaped you as a musician?
I have a variety of influences and inspirations. Currently, I am listening to Sia and Radiohead. I love the sound of Kings of Leon and Coldplay as well. I had a brief phase when I was listening to a lot of hip-hop like Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. When it comes to Indian music, my favourites are AR Rahman and RD Burman.
Why did you choose to record a Hindi track after your debut success in English?
I wanted to write in Hindi, in addition to English, because I think both are interesting and rewarding experiences. I speak in Hindi so it made sense to write songs in that language too. However, my style remains similar in both languages, it’s just a matter of words that change. My Hindi songs, usually, have Western influences which I have been told gives them an interesting touch.
Run us through the composing/recording process for Aa Chalein Hum Kahin?
I wrote a basic acoustic version of Aa Chalein Hum Kahin with the lyrics about a year back. The song is about leaving a situation – a never-changing, fast-paced city and moving to one that offers more meaning and excitement, which reflected the phase I was in. Then, I spent the next few months internalizing it by playing it to myself, showing it to my family and a few friends. When I had a good idea of what the arrangement and the atmosphere was going to be, I recorded it in the studio, along with a few other songs, last September. Later, I came to Dubai and worked further on the track and completed it.
What else have you been musically involved with?
I have another single titled It’s Hard Staying Apart. That was the first studio track I released and prior to that I was posting guitar and song videos and other music related content on social media as well as performing gigs.
What about the future, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
I definitely want to be at a point where I have a catalogue of music that I am proud of. I hope to have tried out different things and experimented with different sounds with every record because I think with music there is so much to dig into and endless possibilities, which are impossible to exhaust. I hope to have also collaborated with a lot of artistes, because that’s something I look forward to. I hope to have grown immensely as a musician because my goal is to get better and better with every passing year. Most importantly, I hope to make a positive impact on people’s lives through my music.