"Never let an idea fade away into oblivion." Falu is widely recognized for a rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern inventive rock style with a formidable Indian classically-shaped vocal talent.
In the Musical Exchange Songwriter Series, we explore the craft of songwriting through regular interviews and short videos with songwriters who share inspiration and advice, reflecting diverse musical styles and approaches to the art of songwriting.
Carnegie Hall: Do you recall what your first song was about and why you wrote it?
Falu: My first song was about desires and a dream that I had when I was 14 years old. I found a way to express myself without judgment—in the name of art.
Hear one of Falu's original songs.
Carnegie Hall: Where do you draw your inspiration to write music?
Falu: I get inspired most when I am feeling a particular emotion very strongly. For instance, If I had an argument, or I felt betrayed, or I felt admired or loved, I write music.
Carnegie Hall: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?
Falu:Yes. To me, lyrics speak about the experience of being human in the same way poetry might.
Carnegie Hall: Do you start with the music or the lyrics?
Falu:I start with melody. A melodic idea comes up, I improvise on it, and it becomes a chorus or a verse which then leads to the rest of the song. I start with music first generally, but there are times when lyrics have come first followed by a melody. I have no preference. I let it flow. Words and music develop at their own pace. Nothing is forced. The process is sometimes slow, and a song may take months. Sometimes you finish a song in five minutes, including lyrics and melody.
Carnegie Hall: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme?
Falu: It depends on each song. As long as rhyming is not forced, it can help make a song fun and interesting.
Carnegie Hall: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognized song structures or that songs can be free verse?
Falu: I think writing great lyrics is very difficult, but the process can also be very rewarding. Songs can surely be free verses, but personally I like strong choruses that people can remember and hum without any instrumentation. Simple but meaningful lyrics speak to me the most.
Carnegie Hall: How do you know if your song is a good one?
Falu: If I can remember the melody the next day, then it is a good song. If I wake up with the melody that I composed the day before, then it is a great melody. To me, a song has to be catchy, or something about the song has to linger with the listener.
Carnegie Hall: Tell us about your more memorable songwriting collaborations.
Falu: One is Wyclef Jean. I was called to work with him on a movie for Angelina Jolie. He is one of the most talented producers I have come across. He was able to establish a beautiful, authentic ambience for me to create songs, and pushed me to do my best to sing and create the exact vibe that was needed for the music in that film.
Another great experience was when I worked with Yo-Yo Ma. Most of all, he amazed me with his humility, and with his overall approach towards notes and compositions. He could instantaneously add extremely tasteful variations to a composition and execute them flawlessly, taking the full experience of it to a new level.
Carnegie Hall: What’s your number-one tip for songwriters?
Falu: Songs are written when they are ready to be written. Never let an idea fade away into oblivion.
Carnegie Hall: What are some suggestions to get the creative juices flowing?
Falu: Observe little things in life, and don't believe they are little. They can lead you to great songs.