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AJAY MATHUR / Blog

The man in the arena

I don’t know about other artists, but for me working on the final stages of my upcoming album “9 to 3” had recently turned into an emotionally chaotic and painful process. Honestly in the past few weeks, I’ve gone though hell with so many ups and downs, doubts and moments of sheer desperation about my songs. Surprisingly, these are the very same songs that I got inspired to compose not too long ago. I recorded them with joy and gusto and felt so many moments of absolute bliss when music sounded like magic on my tracks. I had my Mojo and I loved it. “What’s going wrong?” I asked myself last Sunday morning while sipping a blissful mug of Cardamom Chai. “Where’s my Mojo, now that I need it most in the final phase of 9 to 3? What changed?” – Then I remembered having people in the studio, visitors and guests while I was working on some unfinished song mixes. I guess I got lots of feedback, critic and advice from these people that day. Most of it was quite contrary to my own perception and gut-feeling about my music – but it took over all my emotional space. I completely bypassed my own feelings and started focusing on their critic and advice. I realized that THAT was a huge mistake and that I was “the man in the arena”. I remembered the famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt that I’d like to share with you. It really helped me get past my abyss of doubt and regain trust my own instincts. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” This is to all creative people, independent musicians and artists out there – trust your gut-brain, it’s your best adviser – go out and do it! You guys rock! I have my Mojo back and “9 to 3” is coming along like a charm! The release is due in February 2015. I’ll be posting some music here along the way. Thank you so much for your support and for your emails. You know, I love to hear from you and how you see the world and everything that goes around you. These are the stories that my songs are made of – 9 to 3 - your stories. I always reply. Remember to write to me.

King Poodle

I bumped into an old man the other day while I was walking my dog Mojo and he was walking his three dogs. All of his dogs were older dogs and we got to talking about the day I had to mercifully put my 13-year-old Labrador to sleep a few years earlier. We both agreed that that is one of those very difficult days in life. Not just the day itself, but also the decision that leads up to it.

After a moment of silence he stopped walking, looked at me and said, "Let me tell you a story….. - Read more at: http://ajaymathur.com/blog/king_poodle

The Rope

Every now and then, I am surprised at how people hang on to choices and experiences - usually some kind of failure at some point of time in their lives. When people talk about these past failures, they tend to make them sound like a permanent state of resignation.

It surprises me even more when I see this happening in business situations where technology and methods evolve at an incredible pace. “Oh that won’t work! We tried doing it five years back, but didn’t succeed or get any tangible results.” This is a typical statement of resignation that often hampers the decision to even try to improve a sub-optimal situation. This is true even though the situation began some years back – five in this case - when someone tried to fix something and failed for one reason or another. Maybe it was the wrong choice of tools. Maybe the technology was not up-to-task back then. Five years, or even two years is a very, very long time in the world of information technology where things change and improve at breakneck speed. Not trying to optimize something because it didn't work a few years back is not realistic in the quickly evolving world of technology.

I never really understood this behaviour – the resignation among some decision- makers and the resistance to changing a bad situation by looking into current possibilities. Then I ran across a story which helped me to understand….

As a man walked past the elephants in a refuge, he suddenly stopped. He was confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held only by a thin rope tied to each of their front legs. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could break away from their bonds any time they wanted to, but for some reason they didn't.

The man saw a trainer nearby and asked why the elephants just stood there and made no attempt to get away. The trainer answered, "Well, when the elephants are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them up. At that age, the rope is strong enough to hold them. As they get older, they are conditioned to believe that they can't break away. They believe the rope can still hold them so they never try to break free."

The man was amazed. Even though these huge animals could break free at any time, they didn't because they believed they couldn't. They believed they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us make decisions on a belief that we cannot change something - simply because we failed at it once before? Wouldn’t it be worth a try to change a long-term, sub-optimal situation? After all, isn't failure one of our best teachers?

Small Acts and True Greatness

Walking through the streets of New Delhi brought back that unpleasant and helpless feeling in me that I had long forgotten or maybe just blocked-out. The feeling I used to get when dirt-covered beggars approached me and how I nayed any plea for alms with a slight turn of my head, avoiding any contact whatsoever to their pleading eyes. “This is hopeless and no matter what I do or what I give can make any difference” used to be my humble mumble of resignation. That was 38 years back and my reflex movement didn’t change as I was approached by an old raggedy woman begging just outside a pharmacy at Connaught Place inner circle, next to Levis and Benneton showrooms full of shoppers and a newly opened, over-crowded Starbucks café. As I habitually turned my head avoiding a glance at a piece of paper this old woman was trying to show me, I was stopped by my soul-mate who happened to be there with me. “Didn’t you see the prescription in that old woman’s hand?” she asked. “No I didn’t” I said and thought “I never do in situations like these”. “I didn’t even bother to look” I thought and was shocked by my own reflex of not wanting to notice what was going on. This was a shove I couldn’t ignore. I went back to the old woman and asked her to show me the paper she held in her hand. It was a medical prescription and there was the pharmacy. “She needs it and she can’t pay for it, but I can.” she accompanied me into the pharmacy; her name was asked and it tallied with the name on the prescription; “Maya”. The invoice was handed to me – 150 Rupees (3 Dollars); after payment, the medicine was handed out to me; I handed it over with the prescription to Maya – yes she has a name. Maya kissed the medicine, closed her eyes in relief, mumbled a silent prayer, and thanked me with her grateful eyes and a slight bow made with hands pressed together. Then she walked away. “How long had she been waiting there for someone to act?” I wondered as we moved on. This happened 10 days ago, and then yesterday I read about an odd character named Aabid Surti.

Read my full blog here http://axpand.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/small-acts-and-true-greatness/

The Story behind the Story of A Matter of Time Music Film

Does the story line correlate in any way to a personal experience in your life?

Not from my personal experience. When Chris (Bucher), the director of the film talked to me about it, I found the idea of debunking Bollywood romance as a movie within a movie exciting. We also mixed a traditional Swiss environment and cultural peculiarities with a Bollywood touch to give an Alpine-Heidi-Om Shanti kind of twist to it. Personally, I perceive film sets as something very creative, but I’m told that it could also be awfully stressful and chaotic. Chris and his team have experienced both; fun shootings - like for the ‘A Matter of Time’ video - and terrible ones. We combined these two contradicting experiences in the storyline.

What made you decide to make a film for the song as opposed to a traditional music video?

I find traditional music videos boring. They are all starting to look the same. I don’t have to make a video that shows the band or a singer performing the song in some unreal setting. I’d rather go to concerts to see the band because the atmosphere there is live, loud and real. I prefer to use the medium of music video to tell stories. This, at first, might have little to do with a typical music video, but extends the message and the mood of the song to a new artistic and visual level. It’s exciting to have two different worlds - film and music - clash and to see how they fuse together and reshape into a whole new form of expression and experience.

Who/what do the people in the house represent-- anyone/anything literal or all conceptual?

The people in the house represent a film crew - something very technical and organized. These days, making movies or other forms of art has become a bureaucratic process with contracts, lawyers and clearances. The creative process is inhibited at several levels sometimes to the point of a standstill. This is exactly what I wanted to express with the film crew in the house. The initial harmony is disrupted because of something utterly trivial, until in the end everyone is arguing and getting on each other’s nerves, each acting in their own personal interest, instead of in the interest of the project that is being created by a team. Unfortunately, these things happen often in a real shooting situation. If you ask me, perhaps the message is finding a compromise, like the lines from the song “it takes two to compromise, give and take's not really all that hard to find. Try to carry on like this and the bitterness becomes a state of mind”.

Where was this filmed?

Being in Switzerland, we had a great choice of locations. The outdoor scenes were shot in central Switzerland, not far from where I live. We were looking for a cute, little, rustic, alpine chalet, not touristy, but homey and cute. We went scouting a couple of times and found this lovely little house in a place is called Buochs which overlooks Lake Lucerne. The location was perfect - a beautiful, 270-year-old chalet in the midst of apple trees, green meadows and mountains. So we stopped and simply asked if we could shoot on a nice day. The indoor scenes were filmed in the museum of Swiss traditions in an eastern Switzerland town called Urnaesch (www.museum-urnaesch.ch). This is a beautiful 400-year-old traditional Swiss house which has been maintained in its original form.

Watch the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quZZ1KCZgCw

Looking Forward In Time

"With a mix of Indian and European heritage, Ajay Mathur is a talented singer/songwriter who is truly a master of his craft. His musical abilities (especially the brilliance of his guitar playing) and Ajay Mathur methodical lyrics show his passion for the human condition and our place in the world. With a worldwide following, Ajay’s success has been plentiful and he continues to soar on the charts with his newest release “A Matter of Time.” - Melissa Arditti, Windsor Square Magazine http://www.windsorsquare.ca/2012/08/looking-forward-in-time/

Interview with Ajay on IMD

Overall "A Matter of Time” by Ajay Mathur is an extremely entertaining, dynamic and brilliant catalogue of music. Its strong suit – the amazing amount of originality, creativity and rich conventional wisdom Mathur has to offer. I especially enjoyed the theatrical drama quality to some of the pieces. All in all Ajay Mathur stands out from other artists with his unique signature sound, passion and heightened level of musical enlightenment. Read the full interview here http://www.indiemusicdigest.com/Ajay%20Mathur%20Interview%20on%20IMD.html

Ajay Mathur – A Matter of Time, by Heather Savage

Ajay Mathur is a fascinating male artist from a small town in Switzerland called Luzern. I will add he’s originally from India and I get the impression he’s a soul searcher of sorts. He has been making quite a name for himself both regionally and nationally with his music and has received critical acclaim for his amazing songwriting. I think the quote on his REVERBNATION says it best “The album is a culmination of many years of songwriting and the dedication of several masterful musicians – including Ajay’s close friend and renowned blues guitarist Richard Koechli – who have each added their own unique touch to the music.“ His debut album “A Matter of Time” is the result though far from a self-indulgent ego trip, rather a moving and elegiac artistic statement from start to finish. This is not your overly predictable Ramon Noodle Singer/Songwriter, no Mathur goes much deeper than that. In-fact Mathur could be classed as a 4 genera artist: Alternative Rock, Pop, Singer-Songwriter and even R&B. Mathur has way too much precision and clarity to live in the shadows of overly-predictable Pop Rock. Indeed this is clearly evident in songs like “How High Can You Fly”, “Good Friday and the title track which methodically ups the ante to a very respectable level of catchy musical expression and craftsmanship that transcends typical pigeonholing. The music is also commercially viable with a fresh sound and an entertaining vibe that makes a real connection with the listener. All pieces within this album hold the attention span of the listener perfectly. In a nutshell this is John Lennon meets John Mayer. The 16 song catalogue comes fully loaded and appeals to many different listeners and fans with a wide variety of musical styles to chose from.

I would imagine in time we will hear more from this amazing artist in the near future. No doubt Ajay Mathur has carved a marketable niche for himself thus far setting him self up for more marketable success down the road. I would not be surprised to hear her music featured in a major Motion Picture or TV Series one day. But for now I can honestly say this is one artist that clearly gives you a musical snapshot that is highly original, uplifting and dare I say brilliantly catchy in scope.

Music can be Purchased at CD BABY – http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ajaymathur

Origin: http://topicalise.com/blog/ajay-mathur-a-matter-of-time/ Written by Mindy McCall edited by Heather Savage

Very cool Jam last night in Bar Neunundfünfzig

Very cool Jam last night in Bar Neunundfünfzig with Mike Malloth, Emilia Taubic, Luis Cruz ans me. Michael Paiste (yes the name rings a gong and rides a crash, doesn't it?) came by and jammed on a couple of grooves. A very dedicated drummer, he brought along some extremely cool sounding, high class Paiste Cymbals for the jam. It was a freestyle and high power jam, at times with Emilia (yes!) on Drums, Luis on Stratocaster and me on the Bass. Check out the rotation for good vibration and recreation, leading to excitation! Jam on....

The best songwriter in the world

Paul McCartney concert yesterday the 26th of March, was absolutely MAGICAL! Sorry I didn't Post anything, but I was having too good a time to even think about Facebook, Reverbnation or even taking pictures. Paul is the best songwriter in the world and I loved the way he honored other musicians during the concert. He jammed guitar to Jimi Hendrix "Foxy Lady", got everyone to sing along to John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance", did a sweet version of George Harrison's "Something" playing the Ukelele and finally, after 3 exciting encores, took us from a very moving "Golden Slumbers" all the way to Abbey Road's grand ending "...and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make". What an honor to experience Paul. Thank you Paul McCartney and the Beatles for being a part of my life.