Music is what I do 24×7 and I want it to be like that, says singer Kapil Kapilan

Multilingual singer Kapil, who hails from Kerala, talks about getting into programming, composing and exploring different aspects of music production

Multilingual singer Kapil, who hails from Kerala, talks about getting into programming, composing and exploring different aspects of music production

Kapil Kapilan’s singing career could be divided into before and after ‘Adiye’. The viral track from the Tamil film Bachelor (2021), starring GV Prakash Kumar and Divya Bharathi, bagged him opportunities in all the South Indian languages.

In fact, it is post ‘Adiye’ that Kapil got his break in Malayalam, his mother tongue — he has sung in Bheeshmaparvam (‘Aakasham’), Night Drive (‘Pathi pathi’) and Pathrosinte Padappukkal (‘Theeyanu’). He has projects in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, the recent one being the multilingual Oh Sita Hey Rama, starring Dulquer Salmaan, for composer Vishal Chandrasekhar.

“I have been in the industry since 2017. It took five years to get recognition. ‘Adiye’ changed everything for me. I even won an award for best upcoming singer recently!”

A native of Kottarakkara in Kollam district, he moved to Chennai after his graduation to focus on music. “My father [CR Madhusoodanan Pillai] introduced me to all kinds of music. I have been trained in Carnatic music from childhood and this continued till my graduation.”

Kapil says his college life in Thiruvananthapuram [at Mar Ivanios College] inspired him to go deep into music. “I used to perform with a band, Renegades, while in college. It was through my friends that I came to know about AR Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory in Chennai. So, even though my family wanted me to get a secure job, I had decided to move to Chennai and learn music,” he says.

In Chennai, he took lessons from musicians such as Sriram and Sriram Parthasarathy. After that he learnt sound engineering from Muzik Lounge School of Audio Technology in Chennai.

“After I finished my course in sound engineering, my plan was to do covers. Since I knew some of the sound engineers, I could give my CDs with demo tracks to them. I got calls from [composers] Pritam, DSP (Devi Sri Prasad], Gopi Sundar…. Even though I was excited about that, I didn’t know how to go about it and so I lost out on those opportunities,” he remembers.

Singer Kapil Kapilan

Singer Kapil Kapilan

Nevertheless, in 2017, DSP gave him a break in Telugu with the song ‘Champesaave Nannu’ in the movie Nenu Local. The same year he debuted in Kannada with ‘Baduke Neenentha Nataka’ from Happy New Year composed by Raghu Dixit and in Tamil ‘ with ‘Uyiredukkum’ from Maragatha Naanayam for Dhibu Ninan Thomas as well.

“After my first project with Dhibu, I asked him if I could work with him and he agreed. I was his associate in his next project, Kanaa. In between I sang for Telugu and Kannada films. My career in Malayalam didn’t take off though. Demonetisation stalled several projects, including films in other languages. I had sung for Raja [Ilaaiyaraja] sir as well. But that film didn’t get a proper release,” he rues.

Testing new waters

Kapil is excited that in Dhibu’s latest Tamil release, Nenjuku Needhi (remake of the Hindi film Article 15) starring Udhayanidhi Stalin, he has worked as an additional programmer. “That is progress for me. Initially I used to do vocal layering. But I have been taking lessons from Dhibu in other facets of programming and production. It is interesting to experiment with I have learnt and come up with something out of the box,” he says.

Kapil adds that it is all part of surviving in the music industry. “I may not get playback opportunities always. Music is what I do 24×7 and I want it to be like that. Nevertheless, I thought it is always better to explore other avenues. The background in sound engineering and music production also keep me in good stead when I sing or record a song in my studio,” Kapil says.

He has plans to turn composer, that too with independent projects. “It is a dream to do live shows of my own songs,” he says.

A huge fan of veteran Assamese musician Bhupen Hazarika, especially his songs in Bengali, Kapil says he wants to sing in many languages. “I have grown up listening to Bengali and Hindi songs. There are some beautiful lullabies in Bengali. Even though I don’t know Bengali, I find the language soulful, probably because of the composition, the arrangement and the singing. Also, like many other singers of the current generation, I’ve followed many Indian and Pakistani musicians such as Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali and Abida Parveen. to name a few,” he says.

Of late, he is exploring a new genre — game music. “There are a lot of people who listen to music used in mobile/video games and I think it will be exciting to get into the production side of that branch of music.”

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