Singer-composer-songwriter-actor Arjun Kanungo is known for his party numbers and rap skills. He has the knack for turning party songs into party anthems. His songs have been striking the right chords since 2013.
In an interaction with www.thestatesman.com, he talked about his journey in the music world, his songs, and his experience with the new composers.
When did music happen to you and how?
It’s been 6 years that I have been in the music industry doing my thing. I started it when I was 18 years old and there was a period in my life when I didn’t know what I wanted to do and music just happened, and till I was 18, I didn’t have any musical scene. Nobody in my family had a music background. I decided to opt music as my career because I felt that I get strongly connected with literal music and I spent almost 7-8 years learning music and it’s been quite a journey since then.
How do you feel seeing your latest song ‘Aaya Na Tu‘ becoming a sensation in just a few days?
The feeling is unbelievable. I believed in everybody involved but, I think, we are all a little bit surprised as to how fast it just reached everywhere. It’s on every radio station, every TV channel and on YouTube also, it almost hit about 23 million views. It is so amazing to see a song grow so quickly. It’s quite unbelievable, I am super excited about it.
You are a composer and singer. Isn’t it challenging?
Not at all, I think I was born to do this. I always thought I had a very good attitude towards making things and creating things. I think music was the right fit for me because of that. I am also an actor, I have just finished my first film as an actor and I think that on some levels, I always knew that the profession towards creativity was for me.
Bollywood song Khoon Choos Le got into the limelight. How did that happen?
I honestly don’t know how that happened. It’s just that one day Sachin Jigar called me out of the blue and said, “we heard your voice”. I used to perform with Asha Bhosle earlier in a band and they saw me live somewhere and they said that “you know what, you have been recommended to us by a lot of people, but we have a song for you that will fit your voice, why don’t you come and try it?” So, I said, “I will definitely give it a shot.” I was a little nervous as I didn’t really know how I would do because I had never done it before. I went and I gave the audition. I thought it was an audition, so I went to the recording studio and I recorded the song, and they said “okay, it was really nice and we will call you back” and then I thought it’s probably never going to work out.
I wasn’t really expecting and then almost 6 months later, they called me and said: “ you know the song that you did for us, it’s in a film now, it’s going to be live now, and will be on air very soon and the film is coming out.” I walked out from my house in Bandra, as I had to catch a rickshaw and I literally stopped midway on the street and I didn’t know what to do, I forgot I had to catch a rickshaw, I started walking ahead because I was so shocked. For me, it was one of the best moments because I realised that maybe, I might be a good playback singer.”
How was it to work with Pakistani singer, Momina Mustehsan? How did you get her on board?
She is a lovely person, very sweet and very easy to work with and I think that we got along very well. We wanted to do a song, and when she heard the song, she really liked it. I had a song which I made, which was “Aaya Na Tu” and I went with the song to Universal Music and they really liked the song and they said: “Why don’t’ you collaborate with an artist that we are working with called Momina Mustehsan and I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of her before this. I got to know about her through Universal then I went and saw her and I got really excited to have her as a part of the collaboration. I thought she was perfect as she had never done a single before, so this will be her debut. She is very popular in general and I thought that she is very pretty as well. I was very excited about it and then they showed her the song, she loved the song as well. It just kind of came together after that.”
You have collaborated with everyone from Badshah to Mithoon. How is the feeling?
I like collaborating because I think I am easy to work with and these guys are very interesting characters. Badshah, of course, is Badshah, and Mithoon in his own way is a very interesting person. So, I like to learn from everybody, I collaborated with Badshah, Mithoon and I think Neha Kakkar has also been like one of the favourite collaborations. So, it’s always been a learning experience for me. I think these are very experienced musicians, I have been doing this for about 10 years but my first single only came out 2.5 years ago. And since last 2.5 years, I have released so many songs and all of them have been quite successful partly because the songs have been great but partly also because I have been able to work with great people like Neha, Badshah and of course Momina now. I think it’s always been a mixed bag when I released my solo singles they were successful because of the song but it’s always been a team effort when I collaborate.
How did you get in touch with Badshah and how was the feeling to work with him in ‘Baki Baatein Peene Baad‘?
I sent an email to him and I wrote: “hey listen, I really wanna to do a song with you and this is the song” and two days went by and there was no reply and I thought maybe he is not going to reply. I should probably start looking for someone else and then the next day his rap was just on the track and he sent it back. There was no reply on the mail, he just heard the song, he loved it, he got his rap done and he sent it to me. I didn’t have to convince him at all, I didn’t even meet him. The rap itself, and the final track now is exactly the same way it was when he sent it. I met him for the first time at the shoot and he said, “I really liked the song, so I didn’t feel the need to meet. I just went to the studio and recorded my vocals and I sent it to you.”
You have a massive fan following. Any crazy fan moment?
I had a show in Ahmedabad and I got a message on Instagram from a 17-year-old fan saying that I really wanna meet you, I am coming from very far away to meet you at the show. Can I get a selfie with you when I get there?” and I said, “yaa, why not, I don’t mind.” And when I met her at the show, she had driven all the way from Jaipur to Ahmedabad and she hadn’t told her parents that she was coming.
I was very touched by the fact that someone would travel all the way for me, it was very flattering but a little bit scary because she was only 17 years old and the first thing I asked her was “license kidhar se aagaya?” She drove all the way from Jaipur to come and see the concert in Ahmedabad.
Is there any singer that you want to collaborate with?
There are many actually, now I have some stuff that is coming up, some cool collaboration in the near future. I will keep you updated on them.
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I am doing another single soon. There is another song that comes out by the end of August and besides that I also have a bunch of other things happening. I am doing a web show and there is a film that I have acted in which will be out in August. I am focusing on those two things at the moment.