Sanjeev Thomas on his First Break

By June 13, 2010 No Comments

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Sanjeev Thomas the talented guitarist who worked his way up today features in almost all of A.R.Rahman soundtrack releases in the last few years. Be it Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’s – Kabhi Kabhi Aditi or the recent soul stirrer Aromale fromVinnaithandi Varuvaya – Sanjeev’s works standout.

Known for his trademark back of the head beehive hairstyle and  crazy mannerisms on stage, Sanjeev  has made a niche for himself as the most stylish session artist guitarist in the Indian music industry and add to that the recent awards that he earned for his band especially the one “Thank you for Existing Becoz Your Music Makes Each Day Worth Waking Up To (Most Inventive, Innovative and Creative Indie Act) ”  at the AVIMA 2010 Awards

I was this close to recording Sanjeev for the soundtrack of Nayakan which was being scored by me. Not only  as a guitarist but Sanjeev would have debuted as a Singer for the title track of the film. Said that at the recently concluded kick-start concert of the A.R.Rahman “Jai Ho – Journey Home World Tour” Sanjeev crooned  lines from the chartbuster “Rang De Basanti”.

Here we chat with about how Sanjeev got through with Rahman and how he almost pulled Rahman’s  leg.

How did the legend A.R.Rahman discover you?

Yes. Who hasn’t heard of AR Rahman. I’ve known his music since Roja. But yes back then I wasn’t a great fan of Indian Music per se. I loved the nuances of it, and always was inspired by it.
Well ARR discovering is probably the most funniest stories of all. I being in chennai always wanted to meet him but knowing me .. I was a very lazy dude who loved my own space and peace. ARR  called me 4 yrs ago thru a friend Sindhu who was working with him then. It was for the ‘Vote for the Taj’ song and he just called me directly and said Hello this is AR Rahman. I was almost going to say..  “ye rite.. and I’m the president of the USA…” but I recognised him somehow and didn’t really know how to reciprocate. I couldn’t sleep that night and I was supposed to meet him in the morning. It was wonderful.

At times the wait to working with Rahman is near to eternal, which just builds the excitement and anxiety levels. Did you experience this?

Well I haven’t had to wait really for all this while.

But yes I do spend a lot of time when I’m there. I almost hang out with the engineers and programmers there. While I’m doing with a song I take my time to get my sound and my parts. That’s what I love of working with ARR. I have all my freedom and I know I can add my sound and my skill to every song I work with him.

How did the your first recording go, was there enough liberty given?

All liberty . Obviously there are sum fixed parts also to it. But yes the rest was my liberty. And yes he was present and it was done at Panchathan. I recorded in the morning the first one. But yes usually recordings with ARR are in the night.. and I love it coz that’s my time of day too.

Any strange/noteworthy experience you would want to share that occurred whilst recording this song…

Well.. nothing strange. It was just that I was a little nervous as ARR called me himself and that I didn’t know what to expect.. But once I got there… I think I was just fine..

But ARR till this day is probably the only person in the world that intimidates me. He is a great person a great human being and that’s what inspires me in him more than anything else.

Are there any references given to you before recording a song?

Yes references are there before a song.. some parts which he wants fixed are either told to me or recorded on a keyboard patch. The rest is my freedom as mentioned earlier.

So do most recordings happen in day / over a period of days

Most recordings finish in a few hours or like half a day, depends on how many songs too..  But sometimes.. I need to come back later.. coz I know I will feel better.. or any other situations that arise it may extend to more.

You seem to have taken over Christy Samuels place in the Rahman tours. How is it playing live on stage for Rahman songs for which you have not recorded.

Christy Samuel is a great guitar player. It’s obviously great to play any kind of ARR song, whether Christy or not. I wouldn’t really know what Christy played and didn’t play.

Any favorites from the current releases of Rahman…

Well I love the work I did with him on Jaane Tu and Delhi 6. VTV is latest release which I loved working with him for. Also loved the other songs which he did for the album. Its got a lot of guitar work and I love it. Aromale being one of my favourites.

Whats keeping you busy these days, and what are your future releases/works…

Well rite now its the tour that keeping me on my toes. rehearsals everyday and strenuous too. But its great. I love being on my toes, and when its for ARR, its great all the way. (The A.R.Rahman Jai Ho World Tour – 2010) This is the biggest production I’ve ever worked, and what’s the best is that I’m working with the best in the music and entertainment business in the world. Musicians dancers technicians and producers.