Dehradun-boy Jubin Nautiyal took baby steps into the Hindi film industry with a voice ready to enthral audiences nationwide. Since then, the Indian playback singer not only has churned out songs in various Indian languages but has also carved a niche for himself. In an exclusive chat with us, the classically trained singer bares it all. By Bayar Jain
T+L India: Your love for music started at a young age. How do you think your music sensibilities have evolved over the years?
Jubin Nautiyal: I feel the same way about music as I felt then. I’m still learning, and I continue to look at music like a curious child wanting to evolve and understand music better. As you grow and become a professional in the field, you realise that there’s so much more to give; that your work impacts other’s lives. Once an artiste feels he/she knows it all, that’s where an artiste’s journey ends since music—like a language—is something we humans are still trying to learn and understand.
T+L India: You’ve spent a large part of your formative years in Dehradun. In what ways do you think the place has impacted your music today?
Jubin Nautiyal: I always say, if you are a fan of Lord of the Rings, then you can call Dehradun ‘the town of Hobbit!’ Everybody knows each other and is connected to one another. In Dehradun, because of its strong roots in education—especially till 12th, the city houses the country’s top schools and even stresses on the importance of forming relationships with your teacher. A teacher can impact your life and probably affect the decisions you make in the future, too. I’m still in touch with my teachers from my alma mater, Welham Boys’ School.
T+L India: A song by you that is very close to your heart?
Jubin Nautiyal: All my songs are very close to my heart; they are like my babies and I can’t select just one! But some songs teach you [about music] as you record or create them. For me, two songs taught me a lot about me and my voice: one, Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage Hum from Kabir Singh; and two, Zindagi from Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
T+L India: You’ve done many live performances, globally. Which was your most memorable one?
Jubin Nautiyal: The most memorable live performance I did was at IIT Roorkee, where I sang Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage Hum live for the first time. There was approximately 30,000 kids or more in the audience!
But there’s a bit of a back story here. When I was young, I would visit Roorkee to meet my cousin and his father. My cousin and I would sit by a window and listen to whoever was performing on campus grounds. I used to tell him that I would perform at the college’s festival one day since it’s the biggest of its kind in Uttarakhand. Finally, when I got to perform at IIT Roorkee, it was very special! That performance later went on to make history as the most-viewed live performance on YouTube in Asia and I even got a lot of recognition for it. Performing at IIT Roorkee will always be special!
T+L India: A place in India that you feel could double as the nation’s music capital?
Jubin Nautiyal: There are many places in our country that could be considered the music capital. One of them is Bengal as you’ll find lots of classical music there. I think music is instilled in their blood! It feels as though music is a necessity or a compulsory language there.
Apart from that Shillong and Dawki are definitely very rich in rock music. I really enjoyed the music culture there and how people celebrate it. Everybody has jam rooms, with guitars and drums, in their house—which is really cool for a guy like me. I’ve always enjoyed alternative spaces of music like rock or pop.
T+L India: A hidden gem in Uttarakhand?
Jubin Nautiyal: People visit Uttarakhand for its popular tourist spots but there are so many great places to explore like Jaunsar-Bawar. It’s beautiful and people have to visit it to truly experience it. There are places where clouds hang below the mountains, the air is crisp and fresh, food is great and people are warm and welcoming. Viraatkhai and Chakrata are great places, too.
T+L India: Future of live music performances in the post-COVID-19 era?
Jubin Nautiyal: Live music performances post COVID-19 will have to wait for a while. But it’ll be an event people will remember forever. Live music will one day bounce back. Today, everybody wants to step out, attend concerts, and listen to their favourite artistes perform live. Everyone needs a little break from their hectic lives. People are more eager to go out and enjoy a normal life, just like they did before COVID-19 struck us.
T+L India: You recently raised funds for charity via a digital concert. Tell us more about it.
Jubin Nautiyal: Last year during the lockdown, I helped people of the tribal region of Jaunsar-Bawar in Uttarakhand. Reliance Foundation has been very helpful and lend their support, too. We distributed a huge number of ration kits in the region. When the spread of COVID-19 escalated in the mountains, we reached out to distribute masks and sanitisers, and also got COVID-19 tests done for villagers.
Apart from COVID-19, a huge calamity also hit Uttarakhand last year when a cloud burst in Chamoli. We lost many lives, properties were damaged, and villages got washed away. At that time, I did a small digital concert for charity to show my support. We were able to raise almost INR 15 lakhs through which we were able to help people who lost everything. Our live concert also broke Dua Lipa’s record of live performance on Gaana.
T+L India: Your bucket list destination in India?
Jubin Nautiyal: I really look forward to visiting Kerala as I haven’t been there before.