Getting into the music industry is hard as it is and for someone without any formal training, even more so. People born with talent without the privilege to learn music, due to lack of resources or whatever reason it might be, live with this dream without ever seeing it getting fulfilled.
So what would a middle aged person do who keeps his dream alive by singing in the shower?
The distance from a bathroom to a recording studio seem too long and a startup called From Mug To Mike is narrowing it by giving talent the deserved platform. Ask this elderly lady who cried when her dream of singing in the studio came true, a father who had lost his son and finds solace in singing, and numerous housewives who are stuck with the daily chores, how this startup has given amateur singers a chance to step out of their bathrooms and sing like a professional singer.
With a name as unique as the concept, From Mug To Mike is bridging the gap between budding musician and the music industry. The co-founders behind this, Sunil Koshy and Archana Hallikeri, a techie married couple, are going beyond business to help the common man sing and discover the joy of singing. Handing over the mike to Sunil here and how they mapped the journey from a mug to mic.
Where did your music journey begin?
I sang for the first time on stage when I was two and a half. I went on to sing in school and other Indian association contests and shows and won prizes.
After finishing my engineering in distinction from Belgaum, I eventually took up a small job in Bangalore, and simultaneously started learning music seriously.
I had dreamt of working in a big MNC as an engineer, and I was lucky to get a job in Intel but the demands of corporate was huge, leaving me with less time after working hours for my Riyaaz or music practice. Hence, I decided to quit my job, and shifted from Bangalore to a gurukulam in Chennai to learn music full time. I practiced for over 12 hours daily and this sabbatical gave me the time to think and understand the music industry too.
What is the idea behind ‘From Mug To Mike’?
I always wanted to sing, and contribute to music in a big and different way. For someone with no background in music and no godfather, this seemed like a distant dream and almost impossible, but something that gave me a kick!
The years I took off to spend in the gurukul transformed me as a musician, and my whole personality. It gave me time to discipline myself think about music, and the music industry as a common man.
I had observed that many people loved to sing, and given an opportunity to sing, they would grab it, in office, or at social gatherings. There were also many karaoke clubs and groups, where amateur singers met regularly and sang. Most of these people were untrained, but very enthusiastic. The lack of training or proper guidance was a glaring truth; but people felt it was late for them to start learning or didn’t know what to learn.
So, amidst all this, how did ‘From Mug To Mike’ came into being?
I had always told Archana how I wanted to conduct a workshop for amateur singers, mainly untrained singers. I felt I could help these people with the training that I had undergone, and my experience in the music industry, to help them pick up both basics of singing and get a more practical insight into what it takes to become a professional singer or musician.
So, sipping tea one evening at home with my wife, we thought of bringing bathroom singers from out of the bathroom into the studio and onto stage. We wanted them to chuck the Mug (Bathroom Mug) and grab the Mike.
And exactly 50 days after getting married, we started From Mug to Mike!
What are the workshops like?
We started with a primer workshop, and did not have any future plans. Our first workshop, and subsequent media coverage drew a lot of attention, and we were forced to announce immediate batches of workshops. This also made us design more advanced levels of workshops, combining learning and exposure to the participants.
Over 4000 participants who have attended our workshops till now sang for the first time in a professional studio. Till then, they had only seen the inside of a studio on reality shows or in movies. I have conducted workshops along with legendary singer Padmashri Hariharan and Padmashri KS Chithra, helping bathroom singers interact with them and also sing in front of them.
This became an all time high experience for all of them, and most of them expressed jumping in joy, and some with tears in their eyes.
What makes these workshops so special?
The connect to the common man. The bathroom singer. We have glorified the bathroom singer, and helped bring about a revolution!
The traditional music workshops, or platforms glorified the trained singer, and the bathroom singers or amateurs were ignored and hence, discouraged.
We do not screen or eliminate any singer at any level. It is only their passion and commitment that will limit what they can achieve with us.
This is how we made a marked difference.
Please share some stories of aspiring singers whose dreams came true.
We have helped some of our participants travel the extra mile, and helped them make their mark in the music industry. Dr. Jai Ganesh, a dentist by profession and participant of our workshops, released his debut music video ‘ Sai Namam’ a year ago, recorded and shot in Chennai.
A month ago, Rekha Arun and Ashish, both bank employees, released their debut Sai Baba music video, ‘Sai Saptha Smaranam’, co-composed by me which was recorded in Mumbai.
Nidhi Srivastava, a senior manager with a top MNC, has just finished recording 2 singles and also shot for both the songs.
The highlight of this project is that the songs have been co-composed by Sunil Koshy. Legendary Kumar Sanu has lent his voice for the love duet with Nidhi, ‘Tanha Safar’.
That’s so good to hear. Lastly, what does music mean to you?
I believe music is the supreme form of expression. And it is this power that we want to make use to create a difference in society. Love for music, and the way we are able to touch lives and connect people through music are our biggest motivations. This way we are able to give wings to dreams of aspiring singers and musicians.