Two decades on, 'Angel Eyes' singer Raghav Mathur hopes for an 'impactful comeback' or he is going to 'die trying'

The Indian-Canadian singer shot to fame with his debut album in 2004


Husain Rizvi

Published: Tue 9 May 2023, 6:28 PM

Indian-Canadian singer Raghav Mathur has been a hit among music lovers ever since he released his first-ever album Storyteller in 2004. It features tracks like Let’s Work It Out, Can’t Get Enough, No No, and Bad, Bad, Bad are hugely popular and are a hit amongst fans to this day.

And how can we forget Angel Eyes? And his latest song Desperado, a comeback of sorts, is a collaboration with Tesher of Jalebi Baby fame. The song was recorded in Dubai.

Most of the tracks in Storyteller were co-written by Raghav’s friend Mushtaq, who now resides in Dubai. And Raghav, currently in the city, has reconnected with his friend and regularly drops into the studio for a jamming or recording session.

We caught up with Raghav during his visit to the Khaleej Times office and talked about his trip to Dubai, his latest collaboration with Tesher on Desperado, the trends on TikTok and Instagram Reels, and his nearly two-decade-long career.

You are a regular visitor in Dubai. What brings you to the city this time around?

A lot of tracks from my first album Storyteller are quite popular — Let’s Work It Out, Can’t Get Enough, No No, and Bad, Bad, Bad. Those are tracks that were co-written with my colleague and friend Mushtaq. He produced those songs and has since moved to Dubai. And when we reconnected a few years ago, the plan was that I would keep flying in to record. So actually Desperado was recorded here. And so now it’s whenever I’m in London or whenever I’m close, I try and get back in the studio with Mush (Mushtaq). So that’s what this trip was about. He sent me an idea for a song on Thursday. I was supposed to go back home to Canada, but he said, ‘No, you’re this close, you must come record it.’ So I’ve just been in the studio for the last couple of days, but with an added bit of motivation based on the feedback we’re getting on Desperado.

Your recent collaboration with Tesher, Desperado has been a hit among many music lovers. What was the best part about that team-up?

The friendship. I have a new song, a new record, but mainly, I have a new friendship. He’s like a little brother; Tesh and I grew up in pretty much the same part of Western Canada. And so there are many similarities between us, even though there’s some kind of generational gap between us. He’s got a similar sense of humour, he’s just a kind dude, who has put so much effort into this song.

You mentioned generational gap. So how did you work around that?

I think we can both teach each other things. Jalebi Baby blew up as a TikTok record, and until a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t even on the platform. So stuff like that is kind of funny. But really, there are more similarities between us than differences based on anything in our lives — whether it’s our age, backgrounds or families. There’s quite a bit similar about us. I sort of see Jalebi Baby for him now, he is kind of going through what I felt after Angel Eyes almost 19 years ago. And so hopefully, I’ve given him some pearls of wisdom. And I can also tell you today, he too has given me many pearls of wisdom. He's a smart kid.

Today, several songs start trending on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. But only bits of songs are used in those videos. Do you think this trend kills a song?

Well, in principle, I suppose when I first thought of it and saw it, I felt, well, this is like only one tenth of a record. I mean, it’s not really giving the art its due. Having said that, the direct correlation between when people hear something they like for 20 seconds to them having to make the effort to listen to the whole song or watch the whole video, the impact is substantial. And I felt it during Covid-19 when Angel Eyes was trending, and later when Desperado started to trend.

It has been nearly 20 years since your debut album Storyteller. Looking back, is there something you would have done differently?

Many things, but it’s easy to look back and say you might have done some things differently when you didn’t have the information on what was going to happen at the time. Would I have done things differently knowing how things would progress? Of course.

On that note, have you got any upcoming projects, singles or albums?

Absolutely. This time, I’m not coming back to go away. Like, I think you’ll hear stuff in the next 6-8 weeks consistently for the next eight months to a year. I’m going to give it all I have. And I really want this to be, though I sort of loathe the word, comeback (I’m using it myself all the time because I understand why people feel that way). I want this to be one of the most impactful comebacks in our music industry. And I’m either going to accomplish that or I’m going to die trying.

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