He’s one of the first musicians to bring in rock and pop influences into the Indian music industry. Lesle Lewis started his music career almost four decades ago and continues to hold his own with great zest. He was also one of the front-runners in popularizing the trend of remixes in the early 90s and one half of the popular duo of ‘Colonial Cousins’ with musician Hariharan.

Lesle has always believed in giving young and new artists a platform to showcase their talent and that is what made him introduce Coke Studio in India. The ingenious musician is now back with some incredible melodies for Facebook’s first-ever web series titled Confessions – It’s Complicated. In an exclusive chat with Pandolin, Lesle shares his musical experiences, the thought behind the compositions for the series and the artists that inspire and influence him.

Lesle Lewis

Lesle Lewis

You’ve been part of the music industry for almost four decades now. How would you say have things evolved in the music space?

It has evolved from being a very small and focused business to a very large and very spread out music industry, now. I have been part of the industry for 40 years, from the ’70s and I’ve seen a lot of changes since then. Business has changed in way that the model of how you make music itself is very different.


How did your collaboration with the web series Confessions – It’s Complicated happen?

Victor Mukherjee, who is the director of the series, has worked with me on Coke Studio. He knows the various kinds of music that I play and so he suggested my name to FremantleMedia and they came to meet me. I think we understood each other really well and I knew exactly what they needed. What turned out are two very contrasting tracks, which is exactly what the director wanted. Hopefully, this title track is working for Confessions.

How did you capture the essence of the series through the music?

Fundamentally, there is a story to it. FremantleMedia and Victor told me the stories of these three girls, about how they come to the city and get lost and how they are in a daze with so much happening in their life. I wanted to convert that energy into a song because there is no point in having some music that is just playing for the sake of it. I wanted to create something that you can remember, like the moment it starts, you know that, “Yes, this is Confessions“. This is a title track, therefore, it will be played in every episode.

Raka Gosh’s song was completely different. It is a romantic song and they called in Raka, who is a new singer and asked me if I’d like to try her out. I’ve always encouraged new singers and so I immediately agreed. I told Raka to come in and I think she sounds lovely. I wrote the song around her voice and it has turned out beautifully. She is singing for the first time and is also acting in the web series. I am extremely happy with both the tracks.

How is composing music for a web series different from composing music for an album?

It is very different for an album because you compose what you feel like. You want to make music because you feel like that is what an artist is about. Whereas, for a movie there is a director and a producer, there is a story, there are actors and everything has to fit in. But a web series is very short; it is over in ten minutes.  So it cannot be boring at all and has to be exciting enough that you would want to hear it, whenever the series is on. And I think that we’ve achieved that because Anushka Manchanda has sung it beautifully and the whole energy of the song is pretty good. Plus, I don’t think that a web series is any smaller than Bollywood.


At a performance

At a performance

With an growing trend of web series, how do you see it impacting the music industry?

It will have a positive impact on the music industry because now there are that many more web series and that much more music. Plus, there are so many more avenues for music, for instance, the Confession series. There are new, good songs that are out there on the web, but if it wasn’t for the  series these songs would not have existed. The web is actually helping in creating new music and content.

Who are the personalities in the music industry that have influenced you, both in India and internationally?

Internationally it would be Quincy Jones who is the big producer behind Michael Jackson. There are so many other people like for guitar there is James Taylor. Nationally, I don’t have any hard core influences, but I grew up with old Bollywood, so I love the old melodies. I think the old music directors like Madan Mohan or S D Burman had great tunes and that whole era had some fantastic music. Hrithik Roshan’s grandfather was a very underrated music director, but he would make fantastic music. Nobody talks about him much, but he was amazing. That whole era of music has influenced me.

As a kid I grew up with R D Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. I was very influenced by R D Burman and therefore I did Rahul and I, which was the first remix.


Please tell us about your experience with Coke Studio.

I started Coke Studio in India and at that time, I did the entire Coke Studio all by myself. I worked on 51 songs in 40 days. It’s practically impossible; I don’t think anybody can do it and I don’t think that even I can do it again. I would sleep for just two hours for 40 days! The experience, I would say was very meditational, it was like connecting to the universe. It was fantastic as I got to work with some of the best singers and also met some of the best folk singers of the country.

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Lesle Lewis
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