INTERVIEW: Ajay Mathur

How would you classify your music?

I love rock music especially American rock and have always gravitated towards great songwriters of our times. My music is kind of a blend of rock and Americana with my own psychedelic twist added to it. Listeners and reviewers have described my music style as “Psychedelic Americana”, “Neo-Americana” or “Urban Rock”. I must say, people seem to have a hard time putting my music in a category because it doesn’t really fit in any one box and I’m quite happy about it.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

Like I said, I’ve always been inspired by the great songwriters of our time. It’s tough one to name 5 musical influences because there are definitely more than five. From songwriting perspective, I can say that among others, I’ve been deeply influenced by John Lennon, David Bowie, Jackson Browne, Beck and Tom Petty. On many levels, I’ve also been inspired by the profound craftsmanship of Steely Dan, Jonathan Wilson, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Jack White and Frank Zappa, just to name a few. When it comes to themes and content of my songs, I am inspired by the people around me, their stories and experiences. It’s the diversity of the stories that inspires and compels me to include unusual instruments and melodies in my songs. I mix, cross and morph different genres and styles to get my songs to a point where they reflect the mood I am going for, my experiences, the lessons I am learning and the people I am interacting with. This mostly happens unconsciously.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

I owe a lot of my success to all the fans out there who listen to my music and people in the media who continue to support me by playing my music or writing about it. I think a lot of the reason I have been able to keep things going for so long is because making music is really all I want to do. I get a lot of emails and messages from my fans. Sometimes they just ask me where to buy the album and sometimes they tell me about their own experiences, their own pictures listening to my music. Often they tell me how my music helped them get through a certain phase or a situation in their lives. I am really touched by their openness to communicate and to share their personal experiences listening to my music. This is exactly what want my fans to take from my music.

How’s the music scene in your locale?

I live in Switzerland, which is a very small country, but it has a healthy music scene, especially local music scene. There are lots of venues for concerts and a fairly large number of festivals, but there is disconnect between the local music scene and Swiss mainstream media like radio and magazines. They amplify pretty much of the same generic stuff like mainstream media anywhere else. Germany, Switzerland’s neighbor, happens to be the second largest market for music in the world, next to the United States. Fortunately, my music has been extremely well received in Germany, both by the media and by listeners and fans. As a matter of fact, ‘Little Boat’ was awarded Germany’s best English-language album of the year 2018 by German Rock & Pop Foundation. I have been invited for interviews and concerts on various German TV and radio networks. Songs from ‘Little Boat’ have been play listed on many German radio stations and I’ve been actively playing concerts across Germany since ‘Little Boat’ was released.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

I’ve been to so many excellent concerts. Probably the one concert that completely blew my mind was in 2012 – Jonathan Wilson and his band playing at Kaufleuten in Zurich. I didn’t know Jonathan back then and a journalist friend of mine gave me her ticket to that concert. I didn’t know what to expect. What I heard being played live there was amazing and that one concert stuck in my memory ever since. What Jonathan did on that evening is what I love the most about playing live. It is about creating an atmosphere of common experience where the band and the audience connect and converse during the show. I have an excellent band that is capable of doing just that. Sometimes I bring in guest musicians to jam with us. I love to interpret and reinvent my songs on stage. My songs sound seldom the same when we play live.

Is there a song you have released that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

I write and record new songs all the time. It’s a continuous process for me. I do it whenever the spirit moves me without any particular album in mind. That comes much later on. By the time I started thinking about the concept for my album ‘Little Boat’, I had already recorded about 26 songs. Somehow, the song ‘Little Boat’ was my first choice for a new album and for the album title. This song had something so intriguing about it that it made me want to listen to it again and again. I could sit for hours in the studio and listen to ‘Little Boat’ on repeat. I’m not quite sure whether it was the infectious guitar work by my friend Christian Winiker, the hypnotic and driving groove laid down by my drummer and bass player friends Fausto Medici and Richard Hugener or the powerful imagery about resilience in lyrics by Mary Lou von Wyl. To me it was a perfect combination. The analogy of a little boat that perseveres through the shattering storms of life really resonated with me and kept surprising me every time I listened to it. In fact, resilience is the best way to describe the thread that runs through the songs on Little Boat and all of the songs that I chose to put on the album touch this theme in one way or the other.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?

‘Little Boat’, my current album, was launched on its maiden voyage in the usual way in spring of last year. Quickly picked up by playlists and fans, the music and the album’s message of resilience has resonated with listeners and critics alike. Unlike my previous projects, ‘Little Boat’ has taken on a life of its own, picking up unexpected passengers along the way. Independent of each other, diverse digital artists from around the globe including from Istanbul, Warsaw and Los Angeles, heard a call and all felt like they wanted to contribute. The results of this collaboration are colorful, artistic videos that accompany the songs on Little Boat. The videos are on my website and my YouTube channel. I’ve been thinking that the videos and some stills along with the music could make a really interesting, vibrant exhibition of digital art. I am looking for exhibition curators who might be willing to take on a project like that. Is there anybody out there?

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

I collaborate with other musicians and writers all the time, whether it’s during the recording of my songs or for live shows. If I could, I’d love to write some songs with Lera Lynn, Alabama Shakes, or Greta Van Fleet and collaborate with Jonathan Wilson and Jack White on the production. Playing a gig, having dinner or a drink with Jackson Browne would be awesome!

What’s next for you?

The video artists I mentioned are not the only passengers that have hopped on my Little Boat. Besides the digital works, an illustrated children’s book written by Mary Lou and illustrated by an artist in Delhi, India as well as a full-length novel weaving through the themes in Little Boat by an American writer living in Switzerland are in the works. I’m currently on the road in central Europe promoting ‘Little Boat’, doing TV and radio shows and concerts. I’m also recording new songs in my studio for the next album. There’s a lot going on and a lot more to come, so keep in touch with me!






About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

Check Also

INTERVIEW: Candace Sosa

We have read that you have been creating music since you were very young. What …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.