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Songtrust Spotlight: Anish Kumar

22-year-old producer Anish Kumar recently shared the first taste of music from his forthcoming
debut solo release in the form of “Hummingbird.” Hard-hitting, melodic sample-heavy dance
music is this northern producer’s specialty and “Hummingbird” is an energetic and up-front
entry point, bursting with vitality and life.

Last year saw the release of “Blackpool Boulevard” on Ninja Tune’s Technicolor imprint, a
collaborative effort between Kumar and Barry Can’t Swim, which became a surprise
underground hit with massive specialist radio support including Pete Tong making it his
“Essential New Tune” and Danny Howard presenting it as the “Hottest Record in the World,”
eventually going on to BBC Radio 1’s coveted playlist. He is no stranger to surprise radio support, a self-released single he released unofficially, without a promo team, in early 2021
would very quickly be named the "hottest record in the world" by BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac. Kumar’s recent DJ performance at London’s Earth, part of the South Asian-focused festival Dialled In, exemplified his unique abilities when he surprised a sold-out crowd with an impeccable set, alerting audiences to his rising talent. With performances at London’s widely talked-about Dialled In Festival, playing alongside 2ManyDJs at Koko, and a supporting slot for Sofia Kourtesis' forthcoming tour, there are some undeniably strong co-signs from all corners of dance music.

Kumar wishes to deviate from the often over-finessed tropes of modern electronic music, breathing a new lease of life into the scene with undeniably soulful and kinetic productions. Expect to hear much more as summer unfolds.


WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?

I started making music by messing around on Garageband trying to recreate hip hop instrumentals, which slowly morphed into more dancey stuff due to the major influence of Avicii and the rise of EDM in the early 2010s.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? 

I like writing earworm hooks and creating moments that people can latch onto, whether it be in my songs or in my sets. The euphoric big room sound is something I often lean towards whilst trying to keep the music as far from formulaic as I can manage - it's a constant tug-o-war.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?

I find myself in the process of unlearning more than learning these days, and, as I am an overthinker, it is quite liberating to strip my productions down to what matters the most. I am through and through an album artist and I value how music is "packaged" as much as how it sounds.

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?

I start with the end product in mind and work backward to build the project as close to the initial concept that sparked the excitement as possible. My definition of success has nothing to do with streams or mainstream appeal, and everything to do with critical acclaim.

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?

I owe a lot to the folk at Radio 1 - Annie Mac and her producer gave me my first break by making a self-release their surprise hottest record; Sarah Story has given me so much of her time & advice even before anyone had heard my music. Danny Howard & Pete Tong really got behind "Blackpool Boulevard" last year so I really can't complain - it baffles me that these industry heavyweights have even given me the time of day. My official music career is still in its infancy, and I'm incredibly lucky to be managed by Oli Isaacs and Greg Wells at This Is Music. It took me a while to find people who really understood what I want to achieve in music, and have the experience and expertise to develop the project in a way that we can all be proud of.

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?

It is overwhelming and I absolutely sweat the small stuff - it means you care about your art. Don't let anyone make you feel stupid for stressing about details and definitely make sure you have creative control.

FOR SOME MUSIC CREATORS, THEIR CULTURE, RELIGION, OR COMMUNITY PLAYS A BIG PART IN HOW THEY DEFINE THEMSELVES MUSICALLY, WHILE FOR OTHERS, IT'S MORE ABOUT ESCAPING OR UNDERSTANDING THOSE EXPERIENCES RATHER THAN PAYING HOMAGE TO IT. HOW HAS YOUR UPBRINGING, COMMUNITY, AND/OR CULTURE INFLUENCED YOUR MUSIC OR STYLE, IF AT ALL, THROUGHOUT YOUR MUSICAL JOURNEY? 

There is far too much to unpack here to summarise in a tidy statement so I shall simply say this - when creating art one should feel uninhibited to draw from any avenue that is open to them, and, at the same time, feel no obligation to do so. I don't like to define myself as any one thing, I am a compound of things that I've been exposed to or that I find interesting.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Detach yourself from the industry side of music as much as possible and think about what you like, what you don't, and what you would like to contribute to music.

WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS, INSPIRES, OR MOTIVATES YOU?

Every failed endeavour had to happen to get one step closer to a product I'm happy with. Looking at it this way helps me battle regret and be more at peace with my journey.

FOR FUN, IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND AND COULD ONLY HAVE (3) ITEMS WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU BRING?

Pencils, paper, oils

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP NEXT?

I'm in the middle of releasing my debut solo project and playing my first few shows - it's been a lot of fun.

WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH SONGTRUST BEEN LIKE SO FAR?

Fantastic, Songtrust has been so easy to get my head around and delivers exactly the kind of service I need from a publisher. The team is super responsive and happy to help with any concerns we have around publishing.

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