Leslee Lewis mesmerized music lovers in the 1990s when he along with Hariharan introduced ‘Colonial Cousins’ to the world. The noted Indian singer and composer has now moved to international markets with the song ‘Entourage’ with rapper Omar Gooding. The song is a mixture of Lewis’s groovy rhythmic vocals along with Gooding’s Californian vibe Rap and the addition of top-notch mixing. Apart from this, Lewis has also come up with a new music genre Global Hindi, through which he wants to cater to Hindi-speaking people with a more global approach to it. 

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In an interview with Opoyi, the singer talks about reinventing in 2021, his latest works, and more.

Excerpts from the interview:

Opoyi: How was it working on Entourage? 

Lewis: It’s a great feeling. It’s a fabulous team and very easy to work with. Ashwin T Ganesan, popularly known as The ATG, has engendered the music of the ‘Entourage’ and the song is produced by Kyyba Films. I am privileged that I am probably the only Indian to sing in a Hollywood film in English and it’s been accepted really well with million views in one day.

The team allowed me to be the singer who I am. ATS has never really pushed me to do this only or that only. Even Omar Gooding is so relaxed. I am not used to collaborating with people except for Colonial Cousins where we are two people in the same band. Now to be able to collaborate with such a thing, it’s new for me but turned out to be really nice. 

Opoyi: The reason why you don’t make much noise on social media and promote yourself?

Lewis: I have survived my entire career only because of the music not because of promotion. 

I believe that fundamentally if your content is not good, you can’t last and for me, the melody is most important…..That’s why I started Global Hindi because in the 90s what became indie pop, the whole genre, what will happen in 2021? Today we call it indie music but where are the indie songs? Why isn’t everybody singing indie pops, why are they singing songs from the cinema and that’s why I started something called Global Hindi. The music is global but it’s all in Hindi. I want to talk to Hindi-speaking people. 

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Opoyi: Your take on the music industry in general? 

Lewis: The music industry in the 90s is very different from the music industry in the 2021’s and at that time, the record label paid for all this stuff. They put their money where their mouth was so they believed in you as an artist and they funded it and that’s why they promoted it the way it was promoted. 

In today’s time, unfortunately, it is left for the artist to make their own music, record their video and promote themselves and because of that how much can an artist do? Most of the artists are artistically oriented, they are not financially oriented. When they don’t have a business behind it, how can they run the video? What artists today are trying to create is to run a business, they have become the marketing head, they became a PR team and they became everything themselves and that’s why probably with global Hindi, I don’t have a PR team, don’t have a marketing team. 

Better or worse, the world is changing fairly quickly so we got to see where it is going. 

Opoyi: Plans to promote Global Hindi on a global platform?

Lewis: As things go ahead, you would hear a lot of global sound in the music and It could be Hindi, folk, classical but it’s going to be with my attitude because I have done nothing for Leslee Lewis, the artist. As a composer, producer, I have done everything for all the artists including the colonial cousins but as an independent artist, I have done nothing for myself.

It’s 2021 and I have just turned 61 but I have decided that I will be 21 and I will start all over again. Leslee Lewis is spearheading the global Hindi space.

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Opoyi: The reason why you are true to your individuality even after so many years in the industry?

Lewis: It’s my fifth avatar in the music business as a singer performer. Guitar player, jingle composer, pop music composer, and band, and now the fifth one is singer-composer. Now I have to write a song for Leslee Lewis. From nothing to the top of the chain takes a lot of time. When you start afresh, it’s very difficult for people to give you work because you are not established in that business. As a pop music producer, it was a tough time too and we had the same hard time as Colonial Cousins. We had our album ready in 1994 and till 1996, nobody has released it. ‘yeh kya hai .. gazal pop hai kya, bhajan pop hao kya’ was their reaction. Warner Bros didn’t release the album saying it was a great album, fabulously produced but what it is. In 1996 it was released.

Opoyi: Any plans for Colonial Cousins to come back?

Lewis: I don’t see why not because the industry has changed so much and the record labels, the way they are marketing things, the way they are investing things in a project is very different today and it’s so streaming based and number based. When the right team comes together, I am sure it will happen because we are excited to make music. For us, Colonial Cousins was a time pass that became very popular. We founded it just for fun.