Anand Bhatt is a Grammy recognized Indian-American artist. With a love of music, Anand was influenced by many different artists in the creation of his own unique musical stylings. I got a chance to talk with Anand about how he got into Latin music, what his songwriting process is like, and about his love of charity work.
Kristen Maldonado: You’re the first Indian-American to be inducted into the Latin Grammys – how does that feel?
Anand Bhatt: Oh that’s really exciting. I think its really cool that everywhere I go in the world in Latin countries they are just so accepting. I think its really cool that I can be an Indian-American and still be accepted into that scene, both fame-wise and industry-wise.
Kristen Maldonado: So how did you get into Latin music?
Anand Bhatt: I’m a bit of an extreme romantic, in all honesty. I did it to impress a girl. And it worked! So, I just kept it up. I mean I really love Latin music. I grew up in Chicago where there’s a lot of really cool Puerto Rican and Mexican influence in our music out here. So, even as a kid I got to hear a lot of it and just got really into salsa and stuff like that.
Kristen Maldonado: Now are you fluent in Spanish, or just able to sing in it?
Anand Bhatt: It depends on the day! Some days I’m awesome and some days I speak like a five-year-old. It depends on where I am. If I’m in a Latin country, I’m speaking nothing but Spanish. After a day or two I can carry out great conversation and interviews and what not in Spanish. Here at home in the U.S., I don’t practice it as much and it’s amazing how quickly I can forget it.
Kristen Maldonado: Do you think you could explain your music a little bit? It’s very unique – how did you chose to go the route your going musically?
Anand Bhatt: I started out in hardcore metal believe it or not. When I was a teenager I was playing a lot of metal. I got a great career launch from a lot of metal bands. I got to do a collaboration with one of the main guys from a band called Faith No More in the 90s. They were really big then. That helped a lot. Then I was in some side projects of some big Chicago bands like Ministry and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. That helped launch a lot, but playing metal – metal is a lot like jazz in the sense that you do a lot of work for very little. But I’ve always been into the dance-pop and the Latin and I’ve always played sappy romantic music with just me and my guitar. I think it was a lot of luck in my life that people in my life actually asked me to record some of those songs and then they took off.
Kristen Maldonado: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Anand Bhatt: Definitely Marc Anthony, and there’s a Nicaraguan guy named Luis Enrique. So those two are definitely my biggest influences Latin-wise. And it’s kind of funny – for regular English-style music, I’m still heavily influenced by rock and pop music as well. So I would say Soundgarden and Prince. As you can imagine that makes quite an eclectic mishmosh when I’m writing music.
Kristen Maldonado: What is your songwriting process like?
Anand Bhatt: There’s a lot of times where I have projects with deadlines so I’ll just brew a cup of tea and spend a whole day laying down ideas. I have other people I collaborate with which help a great deal. But I think for the most part it’s just me and my acoustic guitar. Inspiration hits and I’m just kind of jamming around by myself. That’s how almost every song I write starts out – just me and an acoustic guitar.
Kristen Maldonado: You mentioned collaborating: do you have a dream person you’d love to collaborate with?
Anand Bhatt: Oh, absolutely! Especially in those influences I listed. I’m dying to do a collaboration with Marc Anthony because I hear he’s really great to work with. And Prince just because he’s a great influence and I hear he’s a real stickler to work with and so harsh. He’s kind of like the military of music, what he puts people through in collaborations. But I think that’s really beneficial for everybody.
Kristen Maldonado: In addition to music, you’ve done a lot of acting too. How did you get into that?
Anand Bhatt: I’ve been into that my whole life. In high school, just like a lot of kids, I did a lot of the plays and what not. It was kind of just a side fun thing, but I lucked out. I mean, I started doing soundtracks for little things here and there, just Indie projects. Eventually directors asked me to do some on-camera things and it was really fun. I haven’t had a chance to do anything really big yet, so I’m still hoping casting directors in Hollywood will see me on some fun TV shows and movies. But that Indie things – it’s been a lot of fun.
Kristen Maldonado: Along with music and acting, you do a lot of charity work. So, what charities are you focusing on right now?
Anand Bhatt: Right now there are two big charity projects going on. One is the David Lynch Foundation. That’s director David Lynch and actor Russell Brand who put together a new thing called Operation Warrior Wellness. With them so far I just shot a video promo that’s in editing right now for those guys. That’s a really cool one, where they take meditation out to vets as they come back to help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve seen it work wonders so it’s really a cool charity they’ve got going on. It’s really neat. When you think of Russell Brand and David Lynch you don’t necessarily thing of peaceful meditation, right? Like off the top of your head. But they are really into that, so it’s cool to be in-line with them on that.
And then the other one is Simply Smiles charity, which is this really awesome charity. Their focus was originally in Oaxaca, Mexico on this village and that’s where I came across them, while they were working on that project. It just has this cool model where instead of taking donations and giving it straight to the causes they have these villagers grow their own coffee. They took that coffee to market for them and took the proceeds and gave it back to them. So the villagers themselves are working for their own salvation. It’s a really great model and seems to be working for this village. And since then they’ve expanded to some other things like Indian reservations back here at home.
Kristen Maldonado: Do you think you’d ever form your own charity in the future?
Anand Bhatt: I think I will. It’s kind of a funny thing about the David Lynch one. I was actually thinking of forming something on my own with that and I just happened to come across his model and I was like why would I reinvent the wheel? But most likely as more funding comes in and more attention comes in and I can actually make some more impact, I will most likely form something. It’s a really cool thing about being a musician – a side that I didn’t know about when I first got into it – the amount of social impact you can have.
Kristen Maldonado: Do you have any other projects coming up?
Anand Bhatt: I have two new singles that will be coming out. One is called “All Right” and the other is “Livin’ My Way” – and actually, the single “Livin’ My Way” is available for free to people on Facebook and Twitter.
Kristen Maldonado: Do you have anything else you want to add?
Anand Bhatt: Don’t be shy is coming to say hi to me on my Facebook page. I try to answer and read everyone of those myself as much as possible.
You can visit Anand on Facebook.com/AnandBhattRock.