Grammy-nominated composer Anoushka Shankar was in India for a three-city tour in December. In a candid chat with Travel+Leisure India & South Asia, the musician talks about her latest album, early memories of touring, and bringing her music back home.
Excerpts from the interview with Anoushka Shankar:
T+L India: What was the inspiration behind your latest album Between Us?
Anoushka Shankar: Between Us is a live album inspired by a desire to translate my music to an orchestral space. This couldn’t have been possible without the wonderful conductor and arranger Jules Buckley, and my dear collaborator Manu Delago, with whom I’ve written a lot of key songs. We did a series of shows back in 2018 and we happened to record it but didn’t put much thought into it. However, post-pandemic, when the live concert experience was taken away for so long, it felt so dramatic, uplifting, and magical to be on stage again. And I found myself wanting to release it and celebrate that feeling of connection and togetherness through music.
T+L India: Tell us about your first touring experience.
Anoushka Shankar: My first concert was back in 1995 when I was 13. I was terrified, but I got through. By the time I was 14, I was touring with my father and eventually started touring solo. During those years, there have been many firsts and each one felt scary, but then they turned into development and growth. However, I feel disconnected from my first concert because I was so young and such a different person that it’s hard to remember.
T+L India: Have any of your compositions been inspired by travelling?
Anoushka Shankar: Being amidst diverse cultures, meeting different people, and getting fresh perspectives about things that you take for granted, opens your mind and heart. Living across countries since childhood is what influenced me. I desire to make music in a way that explores different cultures and connects it to different people and translates my own lived experiences. If you look at my discography, you will find albums titled Traveller, Home, and Land of Gold, that are all inspired by travelling.
T+L India: Which are the places you loved performing at and why?
Anoushka Shankar: I remember playing at a Roman ruin in Lille, France—on a platform that was erected around giant columns. In Sicily, I played in a massive limestone quarry with huge rocks around us, it felt so immense and incredible. Can you tell us about one memorable incident from your tours? Once I was touring Morocco on my birthday. It was my first time there and I was blown away by the beauty, culture, and food. Moreover, my birthday made everything extra special. We had done a beautiful show at a spectacular outdoor venue, which was followed by a feast of Moroccan food and it just felt utterly magical.