Clinton Cerejo wears many hats – singer, composer, arranger, programmer, and a music producer. Over the past years, he has been a permanent fixture for industry heavyweights like Vishal Bharadwaj, Salim-Sulieman. Apart from Bollywood, he has also worked with the international group Superheavy and with Micheal Bolton. Clinton is one of the most sought after guy in the music industry. His latest, Aukaat from the movie ‘Badla’, has been well received. Music Plus spoke to Clinton about his new release, the business of music, reality shows and more.
MP: Tell us about the thought process behind the song ‘Aukaat’ from Badla?
Clinton Cerejo: As a song, Aukaat definitely is something big. Sujoy Ghosh, the director, wanted a song that speaks about change. ‘Badla’ literally is revenge but it also means change. The lyrics ‘Aukaat ko badal de, din hai 7 wo badal de’ ask to change the impossible. It is very radical in its thought with the right amount of intrigue and aggression. Of course, Mr. Bachchan delivered it amazingly.
MP: This is your third song with Mr. Bachchan. How has the experience been?
Clinton Cerejo: It’s been incredible working with Mr. Bachchan for the third time actually after ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ and ‘Kyun Re’ from ‘Teen’. Rap would be quite daunting for most people but he delivered it with ease and control. It is always great for any composer to have such a great voice like him behind the microphone. His ability to capture your imagination with his vocals is evident in ‘Aukaat’.
MP: You have been very selective about your Bollywood projects of late, any specific reason?
Clinton Cerejo: I have been selective as I feel like doing movies where my creativity is not limited. Catering to the film’s brief is not wrong. Content-based films are really working. That is a great sign for artists like me who love to work on such films. I also feel Labels should get out of the mindset the audience will cater to what they release. It is not working anymore, people really want melody now. It is a good time for composers to put something fresh on the table.
MP: You have been vocal about music taking a back seat and the business of music gaining more importance. Could you elaborate on the same?
Clinton Cerejo: As an artist, freedom of musical expression is of the utmost importance. Music business is equally important but ultimately music drives the business. In Bollywood, if there is a trend, everybody jumps on the bandwagon. At times, this leads to a lack of variety. The powers of the industry need to support artists with different styles and thoughts. Making a profit is important. But I feel spending even 1/10th of the money on music like folk or independent music should be a priority. Even in the west a lot of music labels do that. That is why Jazz is alive today. Funk, R&B and all the genres have their audience because the labels there are supporting all forms of music. I don’t see enough of that happening in our industry and then musicians have to release their own content. Good musicians are not able to market themselves because there is no support. I really feel along with the mainstream, the labels should help other genres too.
MP: You have maintained a successful independent career along with your Bollywood commitments. How difficult is it to balance both sides? Your preference?
Clinton Cerejo: I think it is tough to maintain both sides of the fence. I feel quite grateful and blessed actually to have my feet in both sides. I do advertising, films and also my independent projects. When I feel tired of doing a film for which I have given 3-4 months, I switch to advertisements. Similarly, if I have done too many ads then I love to go for a film. It is about changing the formats and challenging myself. It is really nice to keep things interesting. I also release my own music. There was ‘Ananthaal’ which I released and ‘Shor Police’ on which I am working on. I love working on different things to keep it edgy and fresh. Achieving that balance is important otherwise, the creative juices will run dry.
MP: You have judged Indian singing reality shows. What kind of quality/ potential do you see in the reality show contestants/ winners and do you think reality shows useful for a contestant?
Clinton Cerejo: There is a lot of potential in the country which is reflected in some of these artists on reality shows. It is a wonder how they are so good at such a young age. They have an amazing platform to gather knowledge, technical know-how and achieve fame. But, there is something else to reality shows these days. You will hear one or two songs from these artists and then they disappear. This is the downside. But there is a possibility that one of them will be the next Arijit Singh or a Salman Ali. With so many talented artists you have to find out someone with a unique quality.
MP: Composing vs Singing? Your preference.
Clinton Cerejo: That’s a very tough question to answer actually because I love both. I love singing for other people but that happens very rarely. I have loved singing for Vishal Ji, AR Rahman, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and all the rest. While singing for the South Indian music industry, I keep my arrangement and production brain at home. I just want to sing to my best without thinking about the arrangement, production, and other things. While composing, I wear the composer’s and the producer’s hat. I don’t cast myself as a singer. As a composer, I do not force my singing style upon any singer. I want them to bring their flavor to the song. It is really nice to segregate your abilities.
MP: Tell us about your upcoming projects? (Both Independent and Bollywood).
Clinton Cerejo: I am just in the process of signing another very really exciting film. Apart from that I am doing gigs and working on my independent YouTube channel which always has new stuff coming out. I have a new property which was launched called ‘Breaking it down’. In this property, I speak about some of my music and just do a very quick 5-6 minutes’ breakdown of a song. I have just released one episode. I am working with Bianca Gomes for ‘Shor Police’. We are doing covers and originals in our own style. Also, I am working with Qyunki Digital regarding all the brand-related projects.
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