Interview with Kuhoo Gupta–an engineer and a singer

Kuhoo Gupta

Kuhoo, as her name implies, is gifted with a mellifluous voice. The rich tonal quality captivates the listener instantly and every time. She began singing at the tender age of 5. Her formal education in music started at the age of 11 when she started training in Hindustani Classical Vocals. This was to be the beginning of a journey for her as she improved her singing every passing day. She won many national level prizes in singing.

Equally competent in academics, Kuhoo studied in IIT Mumbai and completed her M. Tech from Computer Science department. Currently, she is a professional singer and a software engineer based out of Pune, India. She has recorded professionally Indian classical and semi classical songs along with the contemporary film music. Always willing to experiment and with a huge appetite to improve, Kuhoo has also delved into the world of western songs and has recorded professionally for fusion songs. She has sung some original compositions as well which shows how well she can understand and interpret a fresh melody and shows her ability to mould herself according to the composer’s frame of mind.

We had an email interview with Kuhoo.

Q1. What made you think to go for a professional music career and when it happened?

To answer your first question, back in the engineering college, I had lent my voice to a few devotional albums. So the dream to sing professionally has its roots from back then. Having said that, I am not really a full time professional singer though I aspire to be one.

As for the second question, when it happened, there are two parts to the answer. First, I was cognizant that Music is lots of devotion and riyaaz and I did not want to come across as half prepared. Second, getting the right contacts. First was in my hand, second was not. So, I started singing professionally when I felt I was prepared a couple of years back. But now internet has changed the way music is created. Online collaboration has made it possible for artists to create music from the confines of one’s home. So most of my albums and covers now are a result of that.

Having said that, I must say that even now, I feel humbled by the essence of music and realise that I am only a student, who has to keep learning.

Q2. You are also an IITan. How was the experience in your college? How did you combine two different approaches where you needed to be more creative and at the same time analytical?

IIT is something else. One has to experience it to believe it. We all know what a brilliant academic infrastructure and a chapel of knowledge it is but very few, perhaps only those who have been connected with IIT, would know that IIT Bombay has excellent groups for every extracurricular activity under the sun. I never missed my music in the two years that I was in IIT-B. There were so many programs and opportunities and I participated in almost all of them. Even after leaving the institution I continued going back and sang during festivals.

I do not know if being creative and being analytical demands different faculties of the brain to be active but whatever it is, I probably managed to make them work together and do decently well. And I do want to thank God that I was in IIT.

Q3. How you retained your mental control dealing with various subjects–right from the intricacies of varies forms of classical music to the technical stuff that you had to study in your engineering?

There were times when studies took up all my time and energy and I could do nothing in music but then the seasons are always there to change. There were days when my music practice was only limited to singing in the lab with headphones on and there were days when I jammed with various musicians in the institute for one or the other music programs in the college. But music came to my rescue whenever I was under stress and when it was only study time, constant appreciation from my project guide on my thesis and project kept me going.

Q4. Did it ever occur to you that doing engineering was killing your time that you could have spent in music?

Not at all. I was a bright student from my childhood and never felt like I was killing my time in doing engineering. Infact it helped me building an overall personality which was creative as well as analytical. The combination works brilliantly well as many would agree.

Q5. What or who was your greatest support, strength and recline while undergoing music tutelage and keeping abreast with the engineering college’s demands? Whom you deem responsible for who you are today?

I would say my family, close friends and teachers were always there to help me out balancing the activities. My parents always encouraged me and provided me everything that was needed to do well in studies and music. I remember when I was some 7 years old, I had a that very small hand held piano sort of thing with tiny keys which most kids played with that time. One day I managed to play happy birthday song on that on my own. My father kept a note of it and he bought me a Casio SA 21 keyboard for me in a month ! My mother would help me in my studies to make sure I rank in the top 3 throughout my school life ! These are just examples of how my parents helped me to become what I am today. My brother is a very good critique and analyzes my singing very closely to help me improve every time ! My close friends always encouraged me and helped me catching up with the studies whenever I had to spend my time in music. My teachers, both academic and music ones, had faith in me always in whatever I did.

Q6. Being an artist, how do you feel that young and budding artists should be groomed or motivated? Taking from your own personal experience, did someone or something inspired you to put in your best efforts in whatever occupation you take?

There should always be a quest to improve within an artist, rather in every aspect in life.

The mantra is to see and learn from everything around us ! We learn from childhood that even the stopped clock shows the correct time twice in a day. There is something to learn from every person we come across.

Q7. You worked with foreign artists also? How does it differ and feel to work with an artist coming from totally different genre of music and also the technical background that appears different?

Yes, I have worked with an Australian composer for a fusion song. Cliched but music is an universal language and it was easy to understand what he wanted in his song.

Q8. Talking about building a career in music industry, what is the basic requirement? How one should train oneself to make sure he/she has gained a good foundation?

The basic requirement is obviously one should be very well trained and should know ones shortcomings and always be ready to work upon them, always be open to any kind of criticism. Every artist has to be a fair judge of self to decide when to take the plunge into the industry.

Q9. You had musical tutelage in Hindustani classical music–did you miss singing in the traditional style where there is time and mood for every note, every sound that you make?

Not really. May be there is time for every note, but I believe the contemporary music has more scope for expression. And one can anytime experiment with a fusion music to get a quick feel of traditional style of music.

Q10. Any personal advice to young artists from your own experience?

Keep working on your art and never get carried away by compliments.

Pertaining to her married life

Q1. After your marriage, how do you manage singing, professional life and of course the domestic chores?

I am privileged to have a very supportive husband and in-laws. Of course, it gets taxing at times managing work in the stressful IT industry, music & family but music makes me happy and satisfied enough to be able to sustain all the pressures.

Q2. How has been your married life: I mean how’s your husband supporting your multi-talent personality in his own right?

He has been very supportive all the way and had always encouraged me to pursue my music even if it meant sacrificing my time which was meant for him at times !

3. Do you feel learning classical music helped you gain better perspective of life, whereby you are able to be calm though going through chaos?

More than classical music, the practice of yoga and pranayaam helped me calmed down during any chaos. It also helped me improve my breath control which helped me in my singing.



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