Ricky Kej: It's incredible to see an Indian album competing for a Grammy with a mainstream album

Ricky Kej’s Divine Tides has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Immersive Audio Album category, and the music composer admits that the nomination came as a pleasant surprise.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all. When the announcement was made last night around 12 a.m., I received a call. “When I realised I had been nominated for a Grammy, I started getting a lot of calls from Los Angeles,” Kej laughs, admitting that he has already begun planning his trip to the US for the award ceremony in February next year.

“When I found out I had been nominated, the first thing I did was get up and call Stewart Copeland” (his collaborator and founder and drummer of the rock band The Police). Then I booked my hotel right away. “I’ve been going to the Grammys for the last eight years, and one thing I’ve learned is that hotels in LA run out on those days,” he adds.

Kej and Copeland are up against The Chainsmokers, Christina Aguilera, Anita Brevik, Nidarosdomens Jentekor & Trondheimsolistene, and Jane Ira Bloom for the Grammy.

“From the beginning, we envisioned this album as an immersive album, with music that transports people to different places and evokes positive emotions.” It’s an honour to be recognised in this category. Other nominees in this category include Christina Aguilera and The Chainsmokers, two of the world’s biggest acts. It’s pretty amazing to be nominated alongside them,” he says, admitting that it feels good to be recognised in the mainstream category.

“We’re up against mainstream artists.” Ours is an entirely Indian album, with entirely Indian music. The album’s heart is North and South Indian, with classical influences. “It’s quite amazing that an Indian album is competing with mainstream Western music,” the two-time Grammy winner says.

As he prepares to fly to the United States for the Grammy Awards, Kej hopes that Indian artists will stop chasing western influences for international recognition, and that this will be reflected in his performance at the ceremony.

“Indian artists all over the country believe that in order to achieve international recognition, they must perform English music or Western forms of music.” That is not correct. I am living proof, as are Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain. “The best way to gain international recognition is to always stay true to yourself and dig deeper into your roots to figure out who you are as a musician,” he concludes.

By Piya

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