Nitin Sawhney in Lisbon, 24 February 2009
|Origin||Rochester, Kent, England|
|Genres||Electronica, nu jazz, drum and bass, trip hop, downtempo, R&B|
|Occupation(s)||Producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, dj, orchestral composer|
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.
Nitin Sawhney was raised in Rochester, Kent, England. As a child he studied piano, classical and flamenco guitar, sitar and tabla.
It was during this period that Sawhney met up with a 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 trained as an accountant until leaving his job as a financial controller of a hotel to pursue his promising career in music. Sawhney moved to London, where he met up with old university friend 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.
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. Sawhney's album, Philtre, released in May 2005, was awarded the BBC Radio 3 Culture Crossing Award. Last Days of Meaning was released in 2011 under Sawhney's own label, Positiv ID. Sawhney's boxset album OneZero, recorded live direct to vinyl, was released in June 2013, and his 10th studio album Dystopian Dream is to be released in 2015.
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. His 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 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. Sawhney is signed to Universal Publishing and is represented by Hothouse music agents for film and TV scores.
Collaborations and remixes
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. 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. More recently Sawhney now has his own BBC Radio 2 series: 'Nitin Sawhney Spins the Globe,' which has been commissioned for three series. The series has seen him collaborate with the likes of Joss Stone, Bassekou Koyate, One Eskimo, Diana Yukawa and David Arnold. Sawhney has also produced and co-written Anoushka Shankar's latest album – Traces of You which features Norah Jones. He is also currently co-producing the latest album by the semi-classical all female string quartet Bond (band)
- 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
- Boundary Crossing Award, BBC Radio 3 Music Awards for Philtre
- Honorary Graduate Degree from South Bank University, London
- Laurence Olivier Award in Contemporary Dance (Zero Degrees – scored for Akram Khan)
- 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"
- Honorary Doctorate from the University of Sussex
- Honorary Doctorate from the University of Roehampton
- Honorary Doctorate from the University of Staffordshire
- "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)
- Honorary Doctorate from Goldsmith's College
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 national music college Access to Music, 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.
- Spirit Dance (1994) World Circuit
- Migration (1995) Outcaste Records
- Displacing the Priest (1996) Outcaste Records
- Beyond Skin (1999) Outcaste Records/Zomba publishing
- Prophesy (2001) V2/BMG/Zomba publishing
- Human (2003) V2/Imagem publishing
- Philtre (2005) V2/Imagem publishing
- London Undersound (2008) Cooking Vinyl/Imagem publishing
- Last Days of Meaning (2011)/Universal publishing
- OneZero (2013) Cherry Red Records/Universal publishing
- Introducing Nitin Sawhney (1999) Outcaste
- FabricLive.15 (2004) Fabric
- All Mixed Up (2004) V2
- In the Mind of... (2007) District 6
- Jaggi, Maya (1 April 2006). "No barriers". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "How we met: James Taylor & Nitin Sawhney". The Independent (London). 13 May 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "Nitin Sawney". The Mighty Organ. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- BBC – Comedy – Shows A-Z Index
- :::Outcaste Records:::[dead link]
- "About". Nitinsawhney.com. 19 September 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "Nationwide Mercury Prize". Nationwidemercurys.com. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "Awards | Daily Urban Music News". Mobo.com. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- [dead link]
- RF/JS v.1 (28 January 2002). "Radio 3 – Awards for World Music – Nitin Sawhney". BBC. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "Awards for World Music 2006 – Nitin Sawhney". BBC. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "The Ivor Novello Awards – All the nominations for 2003". Contactmusic.com. 27 May 2004. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "A Throw of Dice". Throwofdice.com. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "Rounder Records – Nitin Sawhney – The Namesake Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Album Detail". Rounder.com. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- COOL Music Limited – Composers – Nitin Sawhney[dead link]
- "News & reviews". Britten Sinfonia. 11 August 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "National Arts Centre – Centre national des Arts". Nac-cna.ca. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "The CBSO gets a taste for Bollywood – City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra". Cbso.co.uk. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- Sadler's Wells[dead link]
- Productions – Complicite[dead link]
- "BBC News – Composers to create Alfred Hitchcock silent film scores". Bbc.co.uk. 4 July 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "The Genius of Hitchcock: The Lodger". Barbican. 21 July 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "Art without boundaries Nitin Sawhney". Indianlink.com.au. 2 November 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- Nazhat (8 March 2008). "The UK Asian Music Awards 2008". desiblitz.com. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
- "2009 UK AMA Award Winners - on desihits.com". desihits.com. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
- "Patrons". http://www.accesstomusic.co.uk. Access to Music. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- Redhotcurry.com – Films. Raindance East Film Festival, 21 – 27 March 2003
- O'Mahony, John. "Operas about wags? Why not, says the Royal Opera House". The Guardian, 10 June 2010
- Nitin Sawhney – official site
- Nitin Sawhney discography at Discogs
- Nitin Sawhney on Myspace
- Nitin Sawhney at the BBC
- Nitin Sawhney performance of "Songbird (Koyal)" by Julian Lloyd Webber
- Nitin Sawhney interview with www.theinder.net (German language)
- Nitin Sawhney article about the track "My Soul" at Macca Central
- Nitin Sawhney writes score for Human Planet BBC Television series