Singer-composer Job Kurian is a familiar face and voice in the music circuits in Kerala. Though he has done songs for many films, it is his live performances and independent projects which increased his fan base significantly. In his latest single, Kaalam, which came out in the first week of July, Job pays tribute to his great grandmother and takes us on a nostalgic trip.
In a candid chat with Onmanorama, Job Kurian talks about the inspiration behind the song and his commitment to making original music.
Edited excerpt from the interview:
Kaalam, the fourth track in the Hope Project has already become popular. How did this idea come up?
It's been almost four years since I started working on the Hope project. First one was Enthavo, then came Parudeesa, Mulla and Kaalam. I knew that the kind of listening has changed among music lovers. So I thought of producing a song that could connect musically as well as visually. As independent musicians, we don't have anybody who would sponsor us. Even I don't prefer that as one might have to compromise on many things. I thought, even if I struggle a bit, I don't need to settle for a middle ground. (After the release of the first song), it took almost four-and-half-years to produce the fourth song. There will be one more song in the Hope Project.
What was the musical process that went behind while working out Kaalam?
First of all, this song was not meant to be made like this. Usually, I will have something in my mind when I compose a song along with a visual idea. Mulla and Enthavo were done like that. But Kaalam was a song of hope for me. Also, this song was composed when my son was born. While working on the visual aspect of the song, I got involved in building a house in the plantation property I received from my great grandmother, Theresa Joseph (Kochelayamma). The place is heaven for me. She was a planter, social activist and served as the headmistress of Cotton Hill School. I thought the song was the best way to celebrate her life – a strong woman who toiled hard. I also inherited a portion of her property; I was fortunate to benefit from it. As an artist, there is no better way to show my gratitude than a musical tribute. Kaalam, was thus born.
Though all these songs are written and composed by you, what would be your favourite song from the series?
Nothing like that, Parudeesa is very close to my heart as a composer. Though all are my favourites, Parudeesa has a special place. It is about a different world where there is no discrimination based on caste, colour or religion. The song is a prayer for such a paradise (parudeesa).
You have been in the independent music scenario for the past 10-12 years. How challenging is it compared to playback singing?
Both have their challenges. One has to wait for the opportunities in playback singing. There are a lot of people with talent, and everybody likes to be in the industry. But somehow I have found a place for myself to create music of my own and I enjoy it to the fullest. Yes, I feel immensely happy when great music directors call me to sing for films, but I cannot expect it every day.
It is challenging in the independent scene. We have to finance ourselves and have to bear the cost. But the drive behind it and the happiness you get when people sing along - that is something different. The kind of love I get is overwhelming. I enjoy the kick I get from it, on stage especially. I think I was just lucky to have some great songs Manikyachirakula and Arane Arane in my pocket.
Do you follow any particular genre?
I am deeply influenced by folk songs along with our classical elements and a lot of western music. From country to pop to jazz, I listen to whatever songs I get to hear. I think that's how one can develop oneself. I think my songs will come under the pop alternative. I am moving towards such a kind of music.
Is there any song that inspired you so much so that you thought you are destined to become a singer?
So many songs... but it's Teri Deewani by Kailash Kher, which was a breakthrough. That was the first song I sang in Amrita superstar reality show. The song profoundly influenced me. Also, I am a huge fan of the band Avial. They are the biggest inspiration. Rex Vijayan is my closest friend and a mentor, and it was he who introduced me to Kailash Kher's album. Also Chaudhvin ka Chand ho by Rafi sir is one among my favourites.
How was your family's support throughout your musical journey?
My family has always been a great support. My father, no matter whether I scored well or not, he made sure that I follow this path. All he asked was to finish the course, which I did, and then step into the world of music. My wife, who was also a contestant in the reality show, is my best critic. There is always a touch by her in all my compositions. She also has a knack of giving me suggestions to improve by not hurting me. Also, some good friends who have always been with me whenever I needed them.
What are your upcoming projects?
There's a lot of uncertainty now, and I am waiting for the pandemic to end. Both film and independent music industry are going through a tough time. We all are eagerly waiting so that we can think about our future projects.