CHENNAI: The parmesan-coloured room with a huge window on one side of the wall, with white transparent sheer curtains dancing in the wind, had easy visual access to the garden.
The evening sunlight fell on the jukebox that was in the room, as Banana Boat by Harry Belafonte filled the house, while laughter and conversations were drowned by the melody.
For Aditya Veera, a singer, podcaster, talk show host, artist manager, and also software developer, his grandfather was a big influence in his process of exploring music.
Aditya grew up listening to bands like Scorpions, Pink Floyd, Sting, KISS and also artists like Harry Belafonte, who holds a special place in his heart.
During the pandemic, he decided to expand his network internationally by interviewing some of the greatest contributors to musiclike Robben Ford, Lee Ritenour, Manu Katche, Joe Satriani, and Cindy Blackman Santana among several others. That’s how his talk show Stalwarts of Music with Aditya Veera happened.
In a conversation with DT Next, Aditya talks about his experience interviewing these wonderful achievers and his journey in making his dream come true.
The artists you have spoken to are really great and are part of something big. How did this happen?
I have grown up listening to their music and not many of us get the chance to understand what goes behind their craft. I thought it would be a nice idea to understand more about their journey, their stories and all the anecdotal vignettes that would make any fan really eager to listen to their stories. Initially, I made a database and decided to start off with producers first. I got in touch with the three-time Grammy award-winning producer, Marc Urselli who has worked with some of the best English musicians in the world. I slowly began working with that and in 2021, I had huge names come in and be a part of the show. It feels surreal.
How did you get in touch with the artists?
It took months and months of me writing to several studios and labels and even their management companies pitching the idea to them. We would have online discussions and they would go through the show structure and the questions. The process was very tedious because I have a day job as a software developer. So, as soon as I would get back home from work, discussions would begin. After a lot of reviewing and scrutinising, they fixed up the interview.
Did you have any artist in mind that you wanted to interview but it did not work out for some reason?
Yes! (chuckles) I have been trying really hard to talk to Carlos Santana. The thing is he’s very busy with his tours. I spoke to his wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, who plays the drums for his band. She was very impressed with the entire interview and she said that she would put in a word to Carlos. But, I haven’t had the chance to talk to him and I really hope that happens someday.
Were there moments the fanboy in you took over the interview or did you keep it professional?
I would say it is a mix of both. To be honest, when it came to talking to Mr Big’s Eric Martin and Joe Satriani, the fanboy in me couldn’t resist because I grew up listening to all of them. But I still had to put up the professional front and contain my excitement. In a way, this also helped me because you are able to establish a deeper and more understanding conversation with the artist.
How was your interview with Robben Ford?
That was quite an iconic interview. In all my interviews I ask them, ‘What do you want to be known as?’ and he just says that he wants to be known as the nice guy. Considering these musicians are super accomplished, their simplicity is what makes them what they are; not just as musicians but also as great human beings. In the interview, he talks about Miles Davis, Blues as a musical form and other anecdotes.
You also spoke to Manu Katche, how did that go?
Manu plays for Sting, and Peter Gabriel and was approached by The Rolling Stones. He talks about how Mick Jagger met him at a hotel and told him that he wanted him to play for The Rolling Stones. But, since at the point he had too much on his plate, he had to decline. He rejected the offer as his genre of music was different from what The Rolling Stones played. The conversation felt so personal and surreal.
What was the most challenging part about putting this show together?
When I started out I faced a lot of rejection because I was not big on social media. It took me a lot of time to get through and finally talk to the artists. To make the interview more interesting and intrinsic, I had to do a lot of research in a short span of time to frame my questions better. The journey has been strenuous, but it was worth it. This show wouldn’t be possible without all the help I received from the investors, producers, well-wishers and everyone who helped me during this process.
What are you looking forward to?
I hope by listening to the stories of these great artists, people take the initiative to explore music and recognise musicians for their work and beyond it. Stalwarts of Music with Aditya Veera is set to launch on all audio streaming plaat the end of the month. It is currently available on YouTube.
It took months and months of me writing to several studios and labels and even their management companies pitching the idea to them. The process was very tedious because I have a day job as a software developer