Singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad talks about what life in lockdown has been like, why mean comments on the internet really bother him and what he’d write about if not heartbreak:
Sneha Menon Desai: You went from touring 30 cities in two months to going straight into lockdown. Something like this is bound to mess with your system, what is your headspace right now?
Prateek Kuhad: Initially, it was kind of nice, because I went from extensively touring to just being at home all the time. I think it was almost something that I wanted at some level. It’s conflicting because at one level, you want to keep touring and keep playing shows and keep travelling, but on another level, you’re so exhausted that you also just want be home and do nothing for a while, which is what happened this year.
SMD: You see headlines that tout you as the poster boy for millennial heartbreak and Instragammable pain. Have you truly figured out what your USP is? How do you not believe in your own hype?
PK: My USP is something I’ve never really thought about, no one I’ve worked with really thinks about that. Journalists write about it, the fans do, everyone tries to look for patterns, right? That’s what a USP is. Somebody is trying to figure out what I focused on to get to where I did. But to be honest, there’s really no selling point that we’ve thought about.
SMD: What happens when you see comments like ‘Sasta John Mayer’ or that unflattering viral video that showed us how to sing like you? Do you have a sense of humor when it comes to this stuff?
PK: I don’t, actually. I feel like I should, but I get really annoyed when I hear shit like that. It totally, totally ruins my day. There are a lot of artists out there who really embrace that stuff and repost it and they’re like, ‘Haha.’ But it just really pisses me off, so I ignore it, try not to think about it too much. That’s the real answer. I don’t like it, but what are you going to do about it? It just pisses me off for an hour, then I get over it and start doing something else.
SMD: You’ve also dabbled in Bollywood a bit, I’m curious about some of the strangest pitches that have showed up on your table. Does that happen?
PK: I’m not sure if I should talk about it. I don’t want to offend anyone. One strange thing is that a lot of times, I’m in conversations with prominent producers and directors, people who’ve made massive films. They’ll say they’re really interested in my music and we’ll have a one-hour-long chat and then, when my manager talks about budget, they don’t have one. I find that really strange because these are not amateur directors, these are people who’ve made high-budget Bollywood films. So that always surprises me. After that happened a few times, I told my manager to get the budget out of the way first, otherwise we’re just wasting our time. Every now and then, there have been people who’ve asked me to do something I clearly won’t be able to. If you ask me to compose a Punjabi banger, I definitely won’t do a good job. I like that kind of music and I listen to all sorts of stuff, but I won’t be able to do a good job of it. So if somebody expects that from me that’s a bit weird. I’m like, ‘No, I can’t do that.’
SMD: I know that you’re in a rather serious relationship now, but do you ever stress over forgetting what that pain of young millennial heartbreak feels like over time? It gave you some of your biggest chartbusters.
PK: Yeah, yeah. I think about it sometimes. Anybody who gets older thinks about that feeling of…not losing your youth, but changing. In some ways, you change for the better and in some ways, you change for the worse. What direction the balance is going to tip in is something only time will tell. I just try my best to not let it dip too bad. But if not heartbreak, there’ll be something else to write about. I think if you’re good at writing a song, then what you have to write about will come your way at some point or the other.