We caught up with the superb musician Mish Rah for an in-depth interview following the release of his single ‘Fission’ in June 2020.
Hi Mish, tell us about yourself?
I’m a folk-fusion singer/songwriter/producer based in London, with roots in India. As an immigrant in the UK, I worked for six years in the world of finance, seemingly at odds with a double life as vocalist/bassist of an alt-rock band. Craving a more creative and conscious life, in 2016, I moved back to India to travel, reconnect with my roots and explore music more deeply. I returned to London at the end of 2018, in a new phase as a solo artist and producer. My music reflects a transcendental blend of east and west, modern and folk, material and spiritual.
What is your songwriting process?
My music-making process invariably starts with an acoustic guitar motif. I play and meditate upon it until I understand what the music is trying to tell me. And that forms the basis for the song structure and production.
Tell us about your latest release?
My latest release, an instrumental track, titled ‘Fission’, is about a split in psyche and consciousness. A split that stems from the process of coming face to face with oneself – as many of us have in the last few months. The track was premiered on Resonance FM London, and I have now released a music video. I collaborated with Viveka Chauhan (film) and Samar Khanna (visual design). It has been quite amazing to create a visual depiction, with limited resources while in lockdown, that aptly expresses the idea of the song.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
My message to fans is that music can help us connect with the world within us. ‘Fission’, for instance, has been a great way to connect with listeners, who have come back with some very genuine and heartfelt responses. One interesting interpretation from a listener was how the track mirrored her situation in lockdown – a river of mixed emotions alongside the sameness and uneventfulness of the everyday.
Who are your musical influences?
I listen to music from different cultures, from all over the world. Some influences include ‘Tinariwen’, the now world-famous band of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara desert in Northern Mali. ‘King Raam’, a dual culture, Iranian-Canadian musician is someone whose journey and music I identify with. I have followed the work of British progressive rock artist Steven Wilson for several years, and admire him particularly for the audio-visual element of his work. Finally, Hindi cinema and pop music are embedded in my psyche, since that’s what I grew up on in 90’s India.
Who are your non-musical influences?
I am quite interested in the subject of consciousness. Some of my non-musical influences are Carl Jung, J Krishnamurti and Alan Watts.
What’s the best gig that you have ever played?
The most recent live gig I played now feels really extra special. That was the last time I met with all my friends and well-wishers in one place. I played a mere few weeks before we went into lockdown due to the pandemic. This was in the basement of a Turkish barbershop turned underground music venue in Dalston, East London, to a packed crowd and a great vibe. I also always enjoy the atmosphere and company at the Gladstone Arms in Borough, where I have played a few times.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
The larger question of the pandemic aside, each artists’ journey is unique. As an immigrant artist, I started with an empty slate, with no connections and network in the London music scene. I think a big challenge was to connect with people. Since the winter of 2018, I have gone from playing the open mic circuit to getting regular gigs and radio features. That comes down to the openness of people who have given me these opportunities.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
My advice to everyone starting out would be reach out, collaborate and build a community around themselves.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
Following on from ‘Fission’ I am planning to release more audio-visual material over the rest of 2020. In 2021, I’d love to perform at festivals which bring together folk and experimental music of different cultures.
FV Music Blog June 2020
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