When it comes to the world of music we often hear from the singer who is normally the face of the song, but what about the creators behind the curtain? DesiXpress had the pleasure of sitting down with music composer and producer Priyesh Dhoolab, a man who delves into the heart of the song through his spiritual beliefs and hard work ethic. Composing everything from Bollywood songs to religious chants, Dhoolab is truly a multi-faceted composer who is able to straddle the line between mainstream and traditional. Dhoolab reveals the hidden world of music production and why he chose it over a promising cricket career.
Tell me about your life story, how did you come to be a music composer?
I wasn’t always involved in music, during my childhood I was interested in sports playing local county cricket and even playing for Warwickshire. I also played cricket in Pakistan. As the years went on my spiritual journey unfolded, around 2010 and 2011 I actually hit rock bottom in many ways so there was a lot of soul searching involved and the only thing that saved me was prayer. I needed some sort of inner peace to help me, that is when I started to follow a spiritual path and my journey began in a Buddhist sanctuary. I then sacrificed what I had been doing all my life which was cricket and turned to music. I want to help other people and transfer that positivity to others through my music.
What kind of music do you like to produce, do you create mainstream music as well as spiritual music? Is there a favourite?
I definitely prefer the spiritual and devotional kind of music, especially like my role models who are big names who also play devotional music such as AR Rahman for example. When I compose any kind of music I have to reach into the unknown.
Why did you choose to explore your beliefs through the medium of music?
I am a bit of an introvert, although I can be the life of the party sometimes I don’t really go out much and actually work with special needs children. This was something that came about through my spiritual transformation, this natural desire to work with young people. I work with children with ADHD, severe learning difficulties and various other complex needs. I am also a piano player and as I played in front of the children I saw results. My style of playing is unique as I am self-taught, and one particular autistic child who is quite disruptive listened to the piano and over a period of time has learned to be patient and can actually sit and listen. The power of music can help not just children but even the average man.
What was the inspiration behind your latest track ‘Manwa Re’?
It was initially a straightforward love song and I wanted to give it a classical edge. The melody came to me at work and I recorded a 12 second voice clip, I was working with my children at the time and had to leave the building to record it as we are not allowed to use phones in the building! I rarely sit at my piano and search for a composition, I wait until I feel inspired. Those are the spontaneous triggers where if you miss that sign that is given to you by the universe you lose it forever. So I didn’t see Manwa Re as just a song about a guy and a girl.
Do you have a favourite track of yours?
‘Kali Durge’, I made a promise to myself that through devotion and prayer I would complete this track within 21 days. I did not expect to like that track as much as I did, it has that spiritual energy of that internal journey I surrendered myself to.
Can you briefly take us through a typical work day of a music composer?
With music, all roles have a different meaning such as director and producer for instance. In my role I am an all-rounder where I follow through from the start right to the end. From recording an audio clip that I hummed to myself, to creating a structure around it, to working with the lyricist to create a concept for the song that works with a melody. All of this has to render what I am trying to say. There is also the programming and digital side of composing. So I don’t really class myself solely as a music producer or composer as I am doing a lot.
The common listener will be touched by something in the music that might not even be the lyrics or singer but something else in the song. As I am also an independent composer I have to make sure I craft my own identity. I can’t just sit behind people, I have to step forward and say “this is what I am doing”.
Do you think composers get as much coverage as they should compared to the singer?
I will tell you an interesting story, there is no right or wrong in it but it is a sad reality. We know the song ‘Tum Hi Ho’ from Ashiqui 2, I was listening to it with a friend and they all knew the singer was Arijit Singh. I then asked them if they heard of Mithoon who was the actual composer and core creator of the song, unfortunately they didn’t. Obviously Arijit did a great job and carried the song with his voice, however I feel like the others behind the song don’t get that same recognition.
What are your future projects and ambitions?
I hope to release a chant this Diwali, I will also be going to India to develop myself spiritually. This will be an opportunity to take a step back and focus on my education which never really ends. I will also be background scoring for documentaries and recently scored a short film called Homesick, you can find the trailer on YouTube. I also need to thank my family for supporting me through all of this, my mother and father in particular. I come from a fairly musical family and they were supportive of my move from sports to music.
Check out the trailer for short film ‘Homesick’ for which Dhoolab scored the music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xC-MsSG5d8
Facebook: Priyesh Dhoolab Music