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Niraj Chag

In conversation with Niraj Chag

Niraj Chag is a hugely versatile and successful musician and composer who makes albums, film scores, and compositions for dance and theatre. On Monday 22 February he launched a new single, ‘Happy is the Man who is Nothing’.

Pulse caught up with him soon after the launch.

How did a self-taught musician reach to where you are?

It's a question that I often ask myself. I used to believe that it was because I got into music technology early. Then for a while I ascribed it to how adaptable I was. The more I worked the more I started to believe that it was all about perseverance. However, now I believe it's mainly due to luck!

What was your biggest break?

Professionally probably when I got my first record deal as that gave me some confidence that it wasn’t all a pipe dream. Personally, it was when my Dad finally acquiesced (after years of nagging) and helped me buy my first synthesiser. I was 15 at the time!

How did your collaboration with dancers start and what do you enjoy about it?

My first collaboration with dance was with Gauri Sharma Tripathi. At the time I didn’t really have any experience working with dance but I loved the process. Gauri really has a wonderful aesthetic and we clicked almost immediately. I really love how the music takes on a whole new dimension when combined with dance. I have been working with Hari Krishnan (InDance Toronto) for many years now. We both have a predilection for pushing the boat out creatively and exploring subversive ideas. It's always unpredictable where we end up and that makes the process so joyous.

Has the Covid period been a creative one for you?

It's been a really interesting break. Initially it was all a bit discombobulating but after a few months it changed. Many of the projects that I was working on were put on hold so I suddenly found myself with enough time to work on the ideas that I had bubbling in my head for many years. This was a rare opportunity and I seized it! I worked on lots of personal musical concepts, I did a lot more writing and I started to learn new skills that I’ve always wanted to study. 

Which artist do you listen to when you’re not working?

I really love all sorts of music but I listen to more film composers in my free time. Some of my favourite artists would be:

John Williams

RD Burman

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Ennio Morricone

Danny Elfman