Grammy joy for India

India’s first ever Grammy nomination in the New Age music category has a composer from Bengaluru

Composer Ricky Kej has his friend to thank for this “incredible feeling”, because if it weren’t for Sairam Sagiraju, a native of Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, his now Grammy-nominated album could have been “massacred”. Kej, on Saturday, became the first-ever Indian to win a Grammy nomination in the genre of New Age music for Winds of Samsara, which also features South African flautist Wouter Kellerman. Former winners in the category include Enigma, Enya and Peter Gabriel.

“My first reaction? It was a mixture of disbelief and pure exhilaration. I mean the Grammys is big for a reason — it doesn’t take money or sales into consideration and neither does it consider record labels, it’s all about the music,” says Kej, a North Carolina-born composer, who now is based in Bengaluru. “Sairam’s music videos have been very instrumental in making the album visible. After seeing his earlier work, I was confident that he was one of those narrative directors with a rare skill in interpreting music and he did it beautifully. I mean he could have single-handedly killed the album but the fact that the videos caught the attention of American listeners so quickly is a testimony,” claims Kej.

And yes, his tracks topped the US Billboard charts soon after the video was out.Sairam worked on videos for two tracks — Mahatma and Longing. “Ricky’s music is very positive and it’s about harmony. So the music itself was inspiration enough,” says the 25-year-old filmmaker, whose association with Ricky began with a ‘friend request’ on Facebook.

“I remember nervously sending him a link of a rough edit of one of my films and he agreed to score the background music for free,” recalls Sairam, whose body of work includes documentaries on subjects such as euthanasia.But what made this team perfect was the trust the two shared and Kej says he came to Sairam with no expectations. “I just gave him the tracks and asked him to interpret the music. Most times, we aren’t happy with the way books are transformed into films, but there was something about the way he experienced the music and put it on film,” says Kej.

And Sairam is proud of Kej’s nomination. “I’m glad he’s in and I’m absolutely rooting for him to win. I loved that I had absolute freedom to spin a story and shoot the way I wanted toI really enjoyed working with Kej,” says Sairam.

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