Nitin Sawhney (born 1964) is a British Indian musician, producer and composer. His work combines Asian and other worldwide influences with elements of jazz and electronica and often explores themes such as multiculturalism, politics and spirituality. Sawhney is also active in the promotion of arts and cultural matters, and is a patron of numerous film festivals, venues, and educational institutions.
Early years edit:
Nitin Sawhney was raised in Rochester, Kent, England. As a child he studied piano, classical and flamenco guitar, sitar and tabla. He attended Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School.
Subsequently, he studied law at Liverpool University for a short time.
It was during this period that Sawhney met up with an school friend, acid-jazz keyboard-player James Taylor. Sawhney then toured as part of The James Taylor Quartet. This experience led to him forming his own band, The Jazztones. He also joined forces with tabla player and DJ/producer Talvin Singh to form the Tihai Trio.
After dropping out of university, Sawhney took up a position with a firm of accountants called Day Smith and Hunter in Maidstone, Kent. He trained to become a chartered accountant but found that his music was proving too much of a distraction and quit after about two years. Sawhney moved to London, where he met Sanjeev Bhaskar; together they created the comedy team The Secret Asians. The pair was given a show on BBC Radio, which eventually grew into the award-winning BBC TV sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. Refocusing on music, Sawhney's solo career began in 1993, when he released his debut album, Spirit Dance on his own label.
Solo career [edit:
Now signed to Universal Music Publishing Group, Sawhney has released nine studio albums. He received 17 major national awards for his album work.
His final album for Outcaste records, 1999's Beyond Skin, was his breakthrough, earning a Mercury Prize nomination and winning the South Bank Show's award for Popular Music. Subsequently, Richard Branson's V2 Records signed Sawhney to a six-album deal, and released Prophesy in 2001. The album went on to win a MOBO Award, an EMMA and the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award. In 2004 Sawhney issued two remix collections, All Mixed Up and FabricLive.15, released worldwide by London nightclub Fabric and featuring samples of Gipsy Kings' Nicolas Reyes vocals. Sawhney's album, Philtre, released in May 2005, was awarded the BBC Radio 3 Culture Crossing Award.Last Day's of Meaning, was released in 2011 under Sawhney's own label, Positiv ID. OneZero is Sawhney's new boxset album, recorded live direct to vinyl, to be released in June 2013 with his 10th studio album Dystopian Dream to be released in 2014.
In recent years Sawhney has been commissioned to write the scores for a number of different projects. His music for Channel 4's Second Generation saw him nominated for the Ivor Novello Award for Film and TV Composition. He has also scored ads for the likes of Nike and Sephora. In 2006, Sawhney composed a new symphony to accompany Franz Osten's 1929 silent film, A Throw of Dice, which premiered with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, London. More recent works include scores for Oscar-nominated director Mira Nair's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's, The Namesake, as well as Natural Fantasia and Human Planet for the BBC.
This work for film and television has led to recognition within the classical world as well. In 2001, Sawhney composed "Neural Circuits" for the Britten Sinfonia, a collaboration that has continued. In 2002, he worked with Akram Khan and Anish Kapoor, scoring the music to Khan's choreographed work Kaash, which toured worldwide between 2002-2003. In 2004, Sawhney was commissioned by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to compose a new piece for their Harmony Project. Hir previous scores also include the new adaptation of Mahabharata by the Olivier Award- winning writer Stephen Clarke,Simon McBurney's A Disappearing Number for Complicite, and first-time theatrical director Jonathan Holmes' Fallujah. . Sawhney has continued to work with Akram Khan on Bahok, Vertical Road and more recently iTMOi (in the mind of Igor).
Sawhney produced the music for the Ninja Theory video games Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (both starring Andy Serkis).
Sawhney again worked with the London Symphony Orchestra for the Network/BFI re-master of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger, performed live at The Barbican Centre on 21 July 2012. Sawhney also scored Deepa Mehta's adaptation of Salman Rushdie's book Midnight's Children, released October 2012 (US). More recently Sawhney has scored Vara:A Blessing and Japan in a Day.
Collaborations and remixes edit:
Sawhney has remixed a wide variety of artists over the years, including Sting, Natacha Atlas, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Jeff Beck, Julian Lloyd Webber, Tina Grace and Paul McCartney (for McCartney's The Fireman project). He also collaborated with Paul McCartney on a song called "My Soul", which appeared on Sawhney's London Undersound album and on various Robert Miles projects such as Miles Gurtu and Organik. His own work has been remixed by 4hero, Talvin Singh, MJ Cole and Quantic. He produced several songs on Cheb Mami's album Dellali. Last year he co-produced the second album from songwriter Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly entitled Searching for the Hows and Whys released through Atlantic Records. During 2006-2007, Nitin Sawhney wrote the music for Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's dance piece "Zero Degrees"; Antony Gormley created the set.
EMMA Award for Displacing The Priest,
Asian Pop Award for Best Mainstream Fusion Act for Beyond Skin,
Technics Mercury Music Prize Nomination for album of the year for Beyond Skin,
South Bank Award for Popular Music for Beyond Skin,
BBC Asia Award for Music for Prophesy,
MOBO Award for Prophesy,
Boundary Crossing Award, BBC Radio 3 Music Awards for Prophesy,
Media Personality of the Year nomination, RIMA Awards,
EMMA Award for Prophesy,
Muso Award for Prophesy,
Commission for Racial Equality Award,
Ivor Novello Award Nomination for Best Film Score for TV,
Boundary Crossing Award, BBC Radio 3 Music Awards for Philtre,
Honorary Graduate Degree from South Bank University, London,
Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Kent,
Companionship From the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in recognition of his contribution to the world of art and entertainment.,
UK Asian Music Awards - "Commitment to Scene",
UK Asian Music Awards - "Best Alternative Act",
"Best Music (Melhor Trilha Sonora)" Jury Award Nomination for Jean Charles (2009),
"Best Specialist Factual" BAFTA Nomination for Human Planet,
"Best Original Video Game Score" Ivor Novello Award Nomination for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (Ninja Theory),
"Outstanding Dance Production" Dora Mavor Moore Award Nomination for Confluence (co-directed),
Additional information edit:
Much of Sawhney's attention remains focused on the areas of education and community building, accepting the role of Artist in Residence for no less than five separate performing arts organisations across Great Britain and Asia. Sawhney joined Sir George Martin as a patron of the British Government's Access-to-Music programme, and he is also patron of the Raindance East Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. Sawhney appears regularly as an arts and current affairs commentator on topical discussion and news programs such as the BBC's Newsnight, Newsnight Review, and HardTalk. He has also written for UK national broadsheet newspapers: The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, and The Observer.