Music interview: Nitin Sawhney

Nitin Sawhney.

Nitin Sawhney.

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Rochester-born musician Nitin Sawhney released his first album in 1994, and has since released eight more, plus numerous soundtracks, scores and compilations.

He’s also won most industry awards going, and was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2000. He chats about upping his game, his love of vinyl and working with Joss Stone

ONE ZERO IS A RETROSPECTIVE ALBUM FEATURING RE-RECORDINGS OF SONGS SPANNING YOUR CAREER. WHEN DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR IT?

It was last year, when I was doing something at Metropolis Studios. I got talking to Ian Brenchley who owns the place. He told me it was 35 years since someone had recorded an album direct to vinyl and that got me thinking.

SO YOU RECORDED THIS ALBUM DIRECTLY TO VINYL?

Yes. I’ve got a great band of musicians and singers and they always sound great, they never need any clever trickery, so I thought it would be good idea to capture them live, as they are. The idea for the album was that we would perform, record, mix, master and record to vinyl all at the same time. It’s essentially the most live recording you can get.

DOESN’T THAT INVOLVE A LOT OF PRESSURE?

It does, but it means all the musicians raise their game, plus it’s a great chance to do something different and original. 
And I’m a huge fan of vinyl, I love it as a medium. Some of my best memories are buying records and looking through the sleeve notes. I was always really excited to get a new record.

DID YOU NEED ANY RETAKES?

One or two, otherwise it was live. The album has 17 songs on it, and we were done in a couple of hours. We didn’t want to bore everyone. We had to reset the vinyl lathe when we were recording the other side, so that took a bit of time too.

THE SONGS SPAN YOUR CAREER. WAS IT EASY CHOOSING THE SONGS?

It was difficult because I have a lot to choose from, including new songs from my next album. The idea behind One Zero is that it’s my 10th album, hence One Zero, and it’s past, present and future performed unplugged. I wanted to have a strong representation of tracks from my whole career. I didn’t want to leave anything out.

JOSS STONE SINGS ON THE FINAL SONG ON THE ALBUM. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

She was going around the world, and had heard I’d done a similar thing so she came to see me to talk about it. That’s when I suggested we work on some music together.

Nitin Sawhney’s new album, One Zero, is out now.

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