One of the coolest things about our area is its emergence as a live music destination. In addition to all of the great, homegrown talent in our own backyards, the Lehigh Valley attracts national and international touring acts to perform on a regular basis.
One of those acts is Indian singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad, who comes to Bethlehem’s National Museum of Industrial History today at 6:30 p.m. to perform as part of ArtsQuest’s Southside Arts & Music Festival.
We checked in with Prateek when he arrived to stateside on Thursday with a few questions.
You come to us from all the way in New Delhi, India. What’s the indie music scene like over there?
The indie music scene is very small and obscure as of now. People’s tastes are dominated for the most part with music from the Indian film industry. But the indie scene is definitely growing. It’s starting to get exciting now.
Your music blurs the line of pop rock and folk. Which artists have influenced your sound?
Elliott Smith is one of my biggest influences. Apart from that John Mayer, Nick Drake and Bob Dylan among others, especially when it comes to songwriting.
You’re still based in India, but you’ve spent a lot of time traveling to different countries, including the U.S., to play your music. How have you kept up with the travel schedule?
Ha! I’ve become really good at planning my flights. I always carry a neck pillow and an eye mask and I stay super hydrated. So I end up sleeping pretty well on most flights. And it’s been like this for a couple of years now, so you almost get addicted to the constant moving around. It’s sort of exciting now.
You were named an NPR “act to watch” at last year’s SXSW. Talk about the experience you had playing the festival, and what it has done for your career.
SXSW was pretty insane. There was so much happening – all at the same time! It was definitely a very unique learning curve. Playing shows and just being around SXSW gave me a lot of perspective on the American music scene, which is really valuable if you’re trying to build a career in music anywhere in the world.
In 2015, you released your most recent album, “In Tokens & Charms.” For those who haven’t heard it, tell us who worked on it with you and what we might expect.
We recorded the album over a span of about a month in a studio in Brooklyn, NY. I played guitar and wrote all the songs, and had friends and some other musicians feature on it to play strings, bass and drums. Expect simple, organic indie-folk tunes on the album.
As an international artist, what has the reaction to the music been? Has it been different in India than in the U.S.?
Not really. People don’t know me at all outside of India, so I end up playing shows to audiences who’ve never heard me before. So, it’s challenging in some ways, and exciting in others. But other than that, I feel like people, and the way they receive music, is fairly even everywhere.
What are your favorite moments from the album?
This song called Flames is my personal favorite from the album. It’s one of the few songs that I’ve written, that I’m very happy with and almost proud of.
This Friday, you’ll perform at the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem as part of ArtsQuest’s Southside Arts & Music Festival. What can we expect?
Yes! I’ll be playing a solo set, which I haven’t done in a while, part on keys and part on acoustic guitar. Expect a lot of new songs!
Listen to Prateek’s full album, “In Tokens & Charms,” below!