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Rendezvous with Remo

Hitch hiking around the world for two-and-a-half years with a guitar and a haversack gave Remo all the necessary momentum to become a musician with a motto.



EAST MEETS WEST: Remo with his wife Michelle. Photo: P.V. Sivakumar.

MUSICIANS DON'T talk, they play. Perhaps that could be one of the reasons why the pioneer of fusion music in India - Remo Fernandes, shies away from the camera almost always. Over a coffee chat at ITC Kakatiya Sheraton, the flamboyant Goan, relatively low-profiled as the guy-next-door, confessed that he was not a very media savvy person.

"If it has to come, it will come. One needn't go seeking the limelight," he says stirring his South Indian cuppa. Having been around for over two decades now, belting out rocketing chartbusters, each time he cuts an album, the `18 till I die' looks still make him a hot favourite amongst young Munnis as his fans continue to go Humma Humma over his racy melodies.

Born and brought up in the ex-Portuguese colony of Goa, Remo was exposed to Latin American, European and Indian music, right from a very tender age. Idiosyncratically reflected in all his numbers, his association with western music helped him carve a separate niche for himself in the world of poppadum. `East meets west and each is equally distinct and great' is what he aspires to convey every time he composes music.

After having attended school in Goa and University of Bombay, Remo hitch hiked around eight European and North African countries during two and a half years with a tent, an haversack and guitar, playing in underground stations and street corners and café terraces, imbibing cultures and musical styles, as well as earning his own living. "That's when I decided to be full time musician," he remembers.

"What my 12 years of schooling could not teach me, the two-and-a-half years had taught me more than double," the architect from J.J School of Architecture, says. And then marriage with long-time girlfriend Michele. A return to the roots soon after, Bombay City - which made him a national figure, took him to unsurpassable heights of stardom still unparalleled.

His accomplishment to have earned gold discs in the category of Indian pop in English language for his albums `Bombay City' and `Politicians don't know how to rock n' roll' still stand unchallenged.

Besides composing the music, writing the lyrics, engineering the recordings and mixes, and designing the album covers, Remo plays all the instruments and sings all the different voices in most of his albums.

"I believe in quality more than quantity," he says. "It is useless always to expect for a celebrity or an artiste to be able to remain in Number 1 slot forever and continue belting out run-of-the-mill stuff. Others have to be given way. I have had my share of name and fame."

Amongst the newer breed of musicians, Remo's favourites are Lucky Ali, Silk Route and Colonial Cousins, who, according to him, "reach out to the masses and yet keep their integrity."

Known as an artiste who spreads social messages on drugs, AIDS, corruption, communalism, suppression of women, war and armament Remo believes that music has a mission. "To bring about a change or to lessen the pain and suffering is the very essence of music and I have always strived to achieve the end in all my compositions," he wraps up.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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