Nakul Abhyankar on AI’s impact in music, working with AR Rahman, Kannada cinema, and more


Nakul Abhyankar's latest film as a music composer, june, released on 9 February. As an upcoming musician, every release excites him. But june Is close to his heart. He believes this is a story that should reach as many people as possible. Vaibhav Mahadev's Kannada film depicts the journey of a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder, a mental health condition in which a person has multiple different identities. Nakul believes it can promote empathy and acceptance of people with mental health problems.

“The film moves through sweet moments dealing with the difficulties of living with multiple personalities,” he says, “from a musical perspective, capturing juneThe mind space was challenging, with its different personalities.

Despite the challenges, Nakul prefers such films – intimate, intense and script-driven dramas – over commercial potboilers. He says he also likes his other upcoming films Bisi Bisi Ice Cream And ChakriThere are exciting stories too.

“I prioritize authenticity in my music, avoid trends and focus on storytelling. Collaborating with directors allows me to incorporate my ideas into the film's story, ensuring that the music enhances the storytelling experience. I oppose adding unnecessary elements just for the sake of publicity, respecting the audience's time and immersion in the story. The influence of music is subconscious yet profound, influencing the emotional response of the audience. I want the audience to leave the theater feeling good, not with a headache.”

Although Nakul is from Karnataka and sings and composes music for Kannada films, he does not want to be labeled a 'Kannada singer/composer'. She has nine potential releases this year, including a Hindi film. He has sung songs in seven different languages ​​so far. He has worked with AR Rahman in many languages. He also wants to compose for Tamil and Telugu films soon.

“This was my childhood dream and I am starting to realize it,” says Nakul.

what was he doing?

Nakul's life has been immersed in music since childhood. Thanks to a singer brother and music-loving relatives, he grew up in a home full of tunes and tunes. During his engineering days, he found his voice through singing competitions. kannada win sa ri ga ma pa and ranked in the top nine in the National Hindi sa ri ga ma pa The competition fueled his aspirations to become a singer and composer, inspired by icons such as AR Rahman and Shankar Mahadevan.

Like his brother, he was also wary of pursuing music professionally. Therefore, he joined Bosch. “But the call to do music was always there,” he says. Listening to his heart, he took a leap of faith and left his job to study music formally at AR Rahman's KM Music Conservatory. .

“Formal training can give musicians a strong foundation, independence and confidence in their art. My education in music has empowered me to venture into various aspects of music production, from composing to programming and mixing/mastering,” he says.

The learning curve can be steep for those entering the industry without formal training, especially amid the demands of a professional career. Prioritizing learning before plunging into the industry ensures a smooth transition. “But this is not a prerequisite for creation. What really matters is connecting with the characters and conveying emotions through 12 notes.”

KM Music Conservatory didn't just give him formal music education; This opened the way for experiential learning from his childhood idol, AR Rahman. From 2016 till now he has worked with Rahman in many big films. Government, Ponniyin SelvanAnd cobra,

Nakul pauses to gather words and tries to describe the experience of working with the maestro. “I will tell you what I learned from him: honesty, hunger for knowledge, dedication and a no-compromise attitude. It may sound cliché, but everyone – your parents, teachers, boss, etc. talks about it. But I see these qualities applied every day in his studio,” he says. “Watching him work, you get that feeling – no matter what, even if you see a little ray of light. Give what can help make your vision come true, you do it, no matter how hard.”

future of music

Nakuul's recent collaboration with Rahman is more interesting than usual. He worked on the song 'Thimiri Yejuda' for the Tamil film red salute, starring Rajinikanth. Rahman has used AI-generated voices of late singers Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed.

This experience was wonderful for Nakul. “Despite the absence of our friend (Bamba), his voice is clearly alive in the song. It's incredibly thrilling to hear her voice, knowing that she didn't sing it before she passed. The fact that the song became a hit and earned royalties is a bittersweet consolation. Bamba's family will benefit from the royalties, providing them with some income. It is heartening to see that even after his passing, his talent continues to impact people's lives.”

According to him, the process of creating Bamba was straightforward. “You need to provide the AI ​​with enough audio data, usually an hour-long recording of Bamba or any desired voice. During this training period, the AI ​​learns the nuances of pronunciation, inflection and other subtle details of the voice. Once AI is trained, it can perform various tasks, be it singing songs or any other task.

The ability to recreate and manipulate vocals with near-perfect accuracy presents fascinating possibilities, from recreating the voices of legends to creating virtual collaborations. Imagine an AI-powered Lata Mangeshkar singing tunes with vulgar lyrics, raising questions of consent, artistic integrity and potential exploitation.

“It is essential to prevent misuse of AI technology, as it is becoming easier for individuals to manipulate voices and create content without accountability. We need global and local regulatory bodies to establish clear policies governing the ethical use of AI. Without proper regulations the potential for misuse is significant,” says Nakul.

However, because of this latest technological phenomenon, he is not too scared about his and his companions' future.

“Throughout history, musical trends and technological advances have changed from small orchestras to grand symphonies and from analog to digital recording methods. Each change has raised concerns about job security for musicians, yet innovation has prevailed. For example, digitalization did not render musicians obsolete in the 1990s; This, says Nakul, empowered the musicians to explore new ideas and collaborate more effectively with live musicians.

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