Smokey, also known as Sumukh Mysore is one of the few musicians who is on a mission to take rap music forward in India today. Just a few years into the industry, Smokey has already worked on some really memorable assignments. He's worked on movies like Chennai Express, Mujse Fraandship Karoge and has also worked with musicians GV Prakash and Raghu Dixit.
He also writes music for Machas with Attitude (MWA) which is a trio of rappers from Bangalore and Chennai. He also featured alongside some really talented rappers on Bangalore's Indian Rap Cypher. He is one of the eight artists to have been featured on Volume 1 of Headphone Zone's Mixtape.
Why Rap music? What about it influenced you to take it up?
Rap is very expressive. A large part of why I picked it up was because it is a channel for me to vent out or talk about anything I wanted to say. A way to release my frustration, that’s how it started atleast. That turned into a game, I would love to play with words and tell a story. That’s when I realized that hip hop can be so much more than about yourself and so much more to others.
Tell us about how it began and your journey with rap music so far.
It began when I was 10 years old. I used to listen to a lot of Eminem. One of the teachers in my school hated me, or atleast that’s what I thought. What then came naturally was this distaste I developed against him, and it was something I wanted to put out for everyone to see. Come to think of it, Hip Hop really started to become a part of me when I was growing. I think rap is a way of life, a culture, rather than just a genre. Or at least that’s what rap is to me.
How is rap music doing in India? In terms of acceptance, live shows and its reach?
Rap Music is still at a nascent stage in India. A large part of the early rappers, started rapping in their native languages and tried to capture the audience. But slowly, as people got more and more educated, english took prominence. I believe that we, this generation of rappers are at a point of time where we can either make or break the genre. It is what we do now that will define how this genre shapes up later.
Fortunately, there are some amazing rappers out there. Live shows about a year or two ago was quite bad for Hip Hop. Nobody ever let hip hop headline a festival. After a lot of perseverance we are finally finding an audience who want to listen to hip hop and watch their favourite rap artists live. It is up to us, the rappers and our fans today to keep it going ahead.
How do you compose your songs? Who or what do you draw your ideas or inspiration from?
I usually draw influences from what I observe around me. What I find beautiful, I rap about it. Sometimes it’s more about sending out messages, that might influence the thought process of another person and if that becomes constructive, I’ve achieved my goal.
My dad gifted me a mac 5 years ago and that changed everything. It made me more powerful and gave me more control towards the how I wanted to sound. So I work a lot on it.
What have been your musical influences? How do they impact your compositions today?
I actually listen to more music from other genres rather than hip hop. I believe I don’t want to risk getting bored of it. I started off with Eminem, that turned into Big L, Big Pun, Nas mixed with some Rakim. Lupe fiasco and J cole are surely some artists I borrow my styles from. It massively changed my compositions, it made it more concious, more story based and I was always wanted to do that. Rather than just making songs about money, sex and bitches, I wanted to talk about the beauty and the flaws of the world.
What have been some of your most memorable projects/collaborations?
I learnt a lot from my venture into “ready steady po” (Chennai Express). Working with Vishal Dadlani was a dream come true. Watching him work and taking advice from him changed a large part of how I worked as an artist. I did consider that as a huge honour and that has to be one of my most memorable experiences.
How does the future look for rappers in India?
It looks promising. The rappers we have today are really talented. And I’ve noticed that a lot of young kids are aspiring to be rappers. Weather they are good or not, what really matters is there is going to be competition and competitions means interest and interest means progress.
What are your plans for 2015? What can we expect to look forward to?
Big Stuff! There is a surprise coming soon. Shhh.
When and where can we catch you live next? (Show Details)
We are doing Delhi on 20 th at Moonshine Cafe and Bar and 21 st at the Farzi Cafe.
Smoke to deal with Panic will be all across the country this year. Watch the page babies.
Since, we’re in the business of selling headphones, just out of curiosity, which brand of headphones/earphones are you currently using?
I love my Sennheisers!
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