Featuring the Singapore based musician “Tejpreet Kaur” and her devotion to her beloved “Rabab”

The beginning

I have been very fortunate for being raised in a family of music lovers. From a very young age, my siblings and I were encouraged to learn a musical instrument. In fact my brother, father and sister all play the tabla and I am the only string instrument player in the family. Music holds a very sacred place in the Sikh culture and my journey started with reciting holy hymns in the Gurdwara.

One of my biggest supporters are my mother and my paternal grandmother. They are like my Rabab managers and are a constant source of support and guidance, and at times they are also my critics, which pushes me to challenge myself and grow.

Musically inclined

When I was in primary school, I was in an ensemble, where I played handbells for four years. It was also a time when I learnt to read musical notes and began to have an understanding of Western music, all of which helped shape and influence my music today. As a teenager, I played the harmonium and along with that, I also pursued Hindustani classical vocal training and classical Indian dance (Khatak). My second instrument is the Dilruba, which I played for 5 to 6 years before picking up the Rabab.

Love at first strum with the “Rabab”

“Rabab” has a sacred place in Sikh tradition, as it was the first instrument used by Bhai Mardana, a companion of Guru Nanak. Whenever a shabad was revealed to Guru Nanak, he would sing and Bhai Mardana would play on his Rabab, and hence was known as a rababi. Interestingly, when I would occasionally hear the Rabab playing around me, it did not have any impact on me until I heard it being played on Coke Studio Pakistan. That truly changed my perception of how it sounded and I found myself drawn to the sound. I started listening to more songs that used this magical instrument and slowly but surely I found myself wanting to learn how to play it myself. Initially I didn’t own a Rabab of my own, so to learn and play, I would go to the music academy at the Gurdwara, where I took weekly classes. I remember feeling excited every day after school, to run over to the Gurdwara and get my hands on the Rabab. It almost felt like my “Pehla Pehla pyaar”. I had never experienced this kind of excitement before and I worked hard to learn more and get better at playing it.

It was 5th September 2019 when I picked up the Rabab and instantly within a few weeks of lessons with my Ustad, I fell in love with it. It was a very special moment for me. It fit, it really fit. The whole Rabab, the sound and the texture of the music was soft and sweet. My favorite raags to play are Raag Jog & Raag Miyan Ki Malhar.

I have been very fortunate to have been invited to perform live. One of my performances was in front of the former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore for the museum exhibition’s grand opening and my second performance was at the hall of the Gurdwara. It was special for me as it was the first time that I performed at a large scale event in Singapore.

Guiding lights

The more I learnt to play, the more inspired I was by the incredible musicians around me. I found videos of a very gifted Afghani Rabab player, Ustad Homayoun Sakhi on instagram (@homayounsakhi) and what I loved about his videos is that when he played, he would constantly smile, as if being transcended through his music. Currently I am grateful for being guided by two Ustads- Ustad Jatinder Singh based in Singapore (@angadsingh1) and Ustad Bilal Khan based in Pakistan (@bilalkhanbilal_official). I take online classes with Ustad Bilal Khan and his adoration and respect for Hindustani classics is truly heartening to see. As an artist myself, I have always dreamt of peace between the two nations (India and Pakistan) and have come to believe that music transcends borders.  I feel that music bridges the gap between nations.

My dream

I feel at peace when I play the Rabab. When I am sad, it is my place of happiness. When I am homesick, it takes me home. It is my healer in times of stress. My dream is to achieve world peace through music. I envision myself performing worldwide and uniting the world through music.

To follow Tejpreet’s music on instagram: @she_rababi

This was an interview was conducted by Zareen Khan from @w2wevents

For more information & stories – email: zareen@w2wevents.co

The Introvert Artist behind the Extrovert Artworks – an interview with Ashwin Pillai by The Gyaan Guru

Invite

When I receieved this invite in my mailbox, I was estatic, since it was from Ashwin Pillai; he is special in many ways to me. He was a part of a group show I organized a few years ago and since then has been a steady support to so many Artists, he has a generous nature which makes him extremely approachable and yet he is so humble that you would’nt even know that he is a certified Doctor, a Fashion Designer, a writer, and most importantly a passionate Artist. This Multi talented Man has been always soft spoken, except when he paints, his work offers a voice to his personality that manifests in the vibrant colors and limitless boundaries that he makes and breaks in an outburst of outspoken creativity.

I had the pleasure of seeing his Solo Show in The Space – AUH – and it was brilliant, the selection of Artworks, the Colors, the controversial titles were my favorite and most all the personal tour from the Artist himself, since good things should be shared, here is a one on one interview for all of you; with the Man who constantly speaks through his Art.

Ashwin

On Passion for Art – It’s been a long long journey from my childhood sketches leading up to school and then at college level competitions transitioning to group shows and now finally my solo. I surely got more opportunities to showcase, after coming to the UAE.

A Color Blind Artist – I would state it as being differently abled. I see colors in a different shade than normal people do. So I play & experiment more with contrasts and textures and different shades. Also I have limited my current solo to the colour yellow. This limitation has actually freed up my other technical aspects. Being colour selective in a unique manner make my works more abstract that actually what meets your eye. I honestly feel that is also one of the main reasons why I have has instant buyers and serious art lovers.

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Favorite Art Form – I have fallen in love with pour art, which seems to give the maximum amount of freedom to the paint. It usually involves pour paints on a canvas and turning and tiling the canvas to achieve different shapes. In other words it lets me dance with my frame titling and moving in tai chi manner.

Behind the title of your Solo “The Incessant Ramblings of A Yellow Kind” – Honestly I need to thank my friend and curator Archana RD for that. We come up with titles after discussing what went behind each work. Just like after drafting the scrip of the movie… the team decides to give an appropriate name to call it. The titles are merely depict what I see in the paintings, usually stemming from abstract thoughts and ideations. Its just a guideline, you may follow it or not. “Yellow is the spiritual representation of Manipura chakra or solar plexus. The seat of emotions if you may translate in energy terms. To me it also represents youth, happiness and prosperity.”

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Timing of your Solo – The solo was always in the offing, it was just  a matter of time, location and ideas falling together. There could not have been a better time. Completely glad about every bit of it.

Solo Experience – It has been a great show with good sales and a wide range of connect with the audience.

Career Highlights – When I was commissioned to present a painting to Shri Pandit Jasraj Ji, one of the stalwarts of indian classical music and to have been able to hand it over to him in person. It was an emotional moment for me.

Art Lover’s feedback – Plenty of feedback in person and from the guest diary at the gallery. “Your paintings makes one think, dream, smile”… is what I can remember immediately… It was jotted by a Belgian traveller who happened to visit the venue. She also bought one of the works.

The feedbacks almost summed up what I hoped to achieve through my paintings.

Media Coverage – Almost all papers and art magazines announced/covered the event. To mention few :

I try to assign a face to emotion

http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/weekend-review/i- try-to-assign-a-face-to-emotion-1.1377699

Ashvin’s art is all yellow

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/art/20140831/ashvins-art-is-all-yellow

Commercial Success – The sales have been good with as much as 8 pieces sold, and a lot more enquiries.

Show’s Venue – THE SPACE in Abu Dhabi is a beautiful venue, easily accessible and has wonderful positive energy.
Art - passion

5 tips to young artists by Ashwin Pillai

  1. Don’t stop having fun as an artist
  2. Visit and participate in as many as art shows possible
  3. Practice discipline yourself to attract the right people/thoughts into your life
  4. Keep learning art no matter how good you may think you are… invest in right tutors/artists/institutions… everyone enriches you
  5. Forget money

Where can we find Ashwin Pillai’s Art

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/artashvin

TWITTER: @artashvin

INSTAGRAM: @artashvin