Rohail Hyatt Talks About the Coke Studio S4 & More [Interview]

We are thankful to Rohail for taking out his precious time to speak to us about the upcoming season of the Coke Studio to share some of the inner details. We touched base on various topics from featured artists list to the Aamir Zaki saga. We also learnt that the 4th season of the Coke Studio will offer content sung in 9 different languages including Brahui, Seraiki, Hindi, Punjabi, Farsi, Poorvi, Urdu and Marvari etc

We will be sharing some of the details in the exclusive interview below and unfold the rest as the episodes start to air.

This is the first time Rohail has given an interview for an online publication.

1 ) We will start off with the last season, the general perception is that Coke Studio 3 didn’t do justice to the show. What’s your comment on that?

General perception? Whose general perception? Our stats indicate otherwise. Till season 2 we had under half a million views on YouTube. We have almost touched 20 million now. I’ll let the stats set the general perception for me 🙂 I do believe it took a while for some of the material to register with folks and maybe some of it never did. That’s okay. This is an experimental platform. Music is not an exact science and there is no way for people to have a universal taste in it. I believe haters will hate and they will find any reason to do so just as lovers will love. I don’t go about my life worrying about these things.

2 ) If you think things weren’t up to the mark in last season, what’s your stance this season to fix them up?

Even if that was the case, there would be zero effort to fix any problem. This project is not about perfection or commercial public tastes. If that was so, we would have a Jugni type song in every episode. This is an experimental format and I’m the first one to understand and agree that experiments always have the capacity go wrong… Should this be the case, we just move on and do our best with whatever comes our way. Also, my purpose of working with this music is not to please anyone and nor do I expect any gratification in return. The music is distributed free. Like it or hate it, that just doesn’t concern me. The purpose of this project is exploration and discovery in the field of music. I value and cherish all the love people have expressed for this work but I don’t think I feel obliged in any way to please anyone.

3 ) The Coke Studio @ MTV India is being shot right now, what’s your role in that, if any?

None. I just spoke to them a few times initially as there was talk of a joint production but that did not materialize. Obviously we wish them well and it’s a proud moment for me seeing the growth of the Coke Studio platform to other regions.

4 ) Coke Studio sure has been to places and now we’ll soon be seeing an Indian version of it, are there other versions being planned too?

I believe so.

5 ) We know that you’re not in a position to disclose details about the 4th season, but can you hint us all on one thing from the upcoming season that you’re most excited about?

I think I’m in every position possible to give you details 🙂 Since we are delving deeper into our roots, I have touched upon classical music. It’s interesting but probably quite heavy to absorb initially, for the average listener. Let’s see how that is perceived. I really liked it because it was a challenge to make it work. Some of the season 3 material took a while to register with listeners. I think some material in this season will take even longer. The Baluchi rhythms were rather interesting to work with too. I’ve also recorded a few songs differently this time. Just vocals without the house band. Again let’s see how those turn out.

6 ) When there are brands and money involved, music tends to commercialize but it appears Coke has given you full freedom to do your thing. How has it been working with Coke?

Hmm. It’s not usually easy to convince a brand to stay true to an art-form for the sake of art alone and this freedom is usually not handed on a platter. It’s fought for. But with Coke, it was rather easy. Luckily, the brand charter goes hand in hand with creative freedom and expression. That’s why we have made it together to season 4. We are completely aligned on the fact that if people liked a particular tune on a previous season, they are welcome to hear that version of it. We are just not trying to make formula music here. We let the music evolve naturally and experimentally. It’s wonderful to work with a brand team that is so in sync with my own work philosophy.

7 ) We think Uth Records is an interesting effort to create professional music but only for the upcoming artists. Does Coke Studio look forward to releasing more of upcoming acts?

It’s a great initiative. And a much needed one because it’s the struggling acts that need the most help. Gumby and Momo have done a good job. CS has always reserved some space for bands and new acts. I think we have retained that position in all the seasons so far.

8 ) Coke studio features large number of musicians and house band working together. How hard can it get when it comes to the control.

These guys are like family. They are very professional in their outlook and work well as a team. I think we have a wonderful chemistry going and I’ve never felt the need to bring in any replacements but rather to allow the team to grow to add even more to the platform. As for the artists, we respect them and they respect us in return so this general attitude serves us rather well.

9 ) Shahi said “We [Vital Signs] will come together for the cause of music Our music will bring us together”. How much of that is happening anytime soon?

I don’t think any such thing is ever happening again given the circumstances. I’d rather be real about the matter. VS is over…

-Photo courtesy: Rizwan-ul-Haq