Harpreet is Singer/ Musician from Kurukshetra in Haryana. He is fascinated by the languages of his country, India.
The words, nuances, sounds, accents, dialects, phonetics and as he says, ‘the smile’ of every Indian language. So it is upon these, that he draws his inspiration and energy from. The languages of India, the poetry of India, that are a reflection of the ageless wisdom and awakening that we have inherited, are the life-force that pulsates through Harpreet’s music.
It both informs and mesmerises the listener. It provokes thought and enables an enquiry into the realm of human existence. It touches the heart and opens it with its contemporary redention using musical instruments of our times and the beauty of the eternal message that is a gift from ancient cultures. Harpreet also composes his own songs and music and includes the writings of more contemporary poets.
In a sense, Harpreet‘s music is a bridge, an offering to his generation, to walk the path to a deeper life, to perspectives that can be transformative. His work encompasses Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali and Rajasthani.
“His music is an act of poetic subversion… he creates a bridge between the written word and music” Scroll.in , 2018
Trained in Hindustani classical music at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in New Delhi, he plays both the guitar and flute with a natural flair. When not performing solo, he is accompanied by Anirban Ghosh on bass, Nikhil Vasudevan on drums and Varun Gupta on percussion.
Harpreet has gained critical acclaim for his light classical style of singing. His creative talent fuses both the modern and traditional when composing tunes to his own lyrics and for classical poetry that he loves.
He is best known for creating musical scores to epic works of humanist poets like Kabir and Bulleh Shah. Credited for taking celebrated poets to the masses, Harpreet has also composed popular hummable tunes to words of poets such as Pash (Avtar Singh Sandhu), Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Nirala (Suryakant Tripathi). The rhythmic blend of soulful poetry to the pulsating sounds of guitar and percussion are at once unique and innovative, familiar and foreign. On his musical journey with poetry, he has delivered a TEDx talk in Jaipur in 2016
The progressive elements of his artistic practice is not confined to poetry alone. His original composition, Kutte (dog) – a song about a canine’s view of human life — was selected by award-winning Bollywood film director Dibakar Banerjee and Kanu Behl for the film, Titli.
Some of his yet-to be-released compositions — Geet Aur Shabd, Kho Gaye He Wo and Sonapani — have received wide appreciation in festival cir
His graceful compositions, simple sonorous delivery, combined with a pleasing personality and stage presence, have touched a chord with the audience.
Ajab Ishq Maati Da – album
Ghah – single
Nirala – single
Sapne – single
Bol – single
Dua – single
Na Main Dharmi, Na Adharmi – single
Baadal Aaye – single
Repertoire includes works of poets such as Kabir, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Bulleh Shah, Pash, Rahim, Baba Nanak, Bhawani Prasad Mishra and Nirala.
The list also includes contemporary poets/lyricists such as Varun Grover, Gopal Datt, Chhaya A Mehrotra, Maheep Singh, Deepak Dhamija and Shiv Bahadur Singh Bhadauria.
Deepak Dhamija for stage play, Kutte.
Purva Naresh for stage play, Ladies’ Sangeet.
Dadi Padamjee for puppet shows, Heer Ke Waris and Genesis.
Harpreet’s journey in his own words –
“I moved to Delhi in 2005 to learn music from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. It was not an easy decision to leave my academic studies and just pursue music. There were people who just didn’t support or trusted my decision at all. But I, along with only a few friends had this faith that I can make it.
After I moved to Delhi, I met Susmit Sen (lead guitarist and founding member on Indian Ocean Band), who has been my inspiration as a guitarist/musician. Became a friend and I would hang out with the band in their practices, which was really inspiring and motivating. Later Susmit produced music for my album ‘Ajab Ishq…maati da‘
In 2011, It was when I used to be locked inside my room for days to practice, compose, learn and get inspired by watching videos/movies, I met Gurpal Singh. An FTII graduate in direction and actor, He does these small get-togethers MAFIA (Musicians Artists Filmmakers Interested-Log Aajao) without any agenda, but still so many collaborations happened because of these gatherings. Soon after I started meeting people in such gatherings I started getting opportunities to perform more and more, which eventually led me to bigger stages/platforms.
In one of the MAFIA gatherings, I met Sunny Narang, who really appreciated my music and also supported (financially) my debut album ‘Ajab Ishq…maati da’, when the crowd funding failed and Sunny has always been there as a mentor/friend.’
Also, I met Vernita Verma in another MAFIA gathering, who is a filmmaker but voluntarily started managing my work and eventually became my official manager and travelled along for good five years in my journey, which was a big help to have a manager in this industry. Alongside I met friends/mentors like Ashish Arora (Businessman), Sanjay Sen (Senior Lawyer in Delhi Supreme Court), Deepak Dhamija (IIM graduate left his corporate job and started doing full-time theatre and now on his journey to spirituality).
Also, my filmmaker friends like Vernita Verma, Ankit Mehrotra, Kabir Shah and Gurpal Singh contributed to my journey by making music videos for my song.
So, I believe you start your journey alone and so many people join you in your journey to contribute in so many different ways.”
28th June, 2018
The evening opened with Harpreet strumming his Spanish Guitar and echoing the Sufi thoughts of Kabir in his full throated mesmerising alaap, where the words of Kabir‘s nirgun poetry “Chanda chhalake yehi ghat manhin…..” were effortlessly woven as if reiterating Kabir’s profound philosophical thoughts through his soul stirring voice. The second song ‘Gagan ki oor nisana hai Bhai…” had the melodious fragrance of Tilak Kamod before he proceeded towards the poetry of Bulleh Shah. “Dua” written by Varun Grover gave way to the famous poem of Faiz Ahmad Faiz “Bol ke lub aazad hain tere…” that involved the audience with its pulsating rhythm and inspiring words.
“Ghas” (grass), a Punjabi poem by Avtar Singh Sandhu ‘Pash’, was recited by Harpreet in its Hindi translation with emotional involvement, before he sang it in original Punjabi. “Geet Farosh” by Bhavani Prasad Mishra “Main tarah tarah ke geet bechta hoon…” and Bubbly Banarasi, offered different flavours of languages and music before he concluded with Kabir, playing his Ukulele, a cute little Hawaiian instrument.
The delightful performance by this gifted young musician in total tunefulness, his selection and riveting rendering of the songs made one curious about his musical background and love for poetry. Most unassumingly, he confessed that there was no musical tradition in the family. Born in a small village named Sherpur, almost at the centre of Kurukshetra and Karnal, he lived with his family in the closeby farm. His first impression of music as a six-year-old, came from the old film songs his father used to sing. A small keyboard of his elder brother became his first ever musical instrument. This joy encouraged the child to learn music from wherever he could. It was eventually after coming to Delhi that he joined the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya and learnt classical music properly, but never appeared for exams. He loved the music of Indian Ocean and Rabbi Shergill. “Their songs inspired me to read Sufi poetry and compose in my own way.” Asked about his style of elaborating the poetry in ‘bol-alaap‘ style, based on a classical raga before picking up the rhythm; he summarised, “music is like a journey, you evolve as you go along on this path….” One wishes him to conquer many more milestones on his chosen path.
June 30th, 2018
Ras Banaras, February 2017, a report :
These events take us along on a journey – short, joyous and intense – and remind us that live performances are a class apart from listening to music on our machines. These events also teach us that when music is of a high quality, one needs to bother about logistics and acoustics. Malini Awasthi‘s performance at Ras Banaras made us realise that what little we had read of her failed to do justice. That evening – with her songs on Holi – she brought the festival early to Banaras. Dhrupad Mela brought out the sheer power of the mridang when five artists took the stage together. At the Mahindra Kabir Festival, Shubha Mudgal displayed her meticulous skill when she sang Kabir’s verses, while Harpreet sent the crowd into a frenzy with his ‘Babli Banarasi‘.
30th May, 2018
17th April, 2017
Only Punjabis in India can show angst, terror , philosophy , separation , death , discussions on love and nationalism, revolution and cattle with humour , that is not dark and cynical , but earthy and delightful .
Deepak Dhamija is my favourite Haryanvi-Punjabi-Hindustani playwright and director and Harpreet my favourite Punjabi-Haryanvi-Hindustani singer !
Both from barbaric North India know how to pao khap !
From Sunny Narang’s Facebook Posts :
Harpreet Singh I met years ago when he was still evolving his sound.
Sometimes not coming out for days from his basement in West Delhi.
The boy who just decided to use his guitar like an iktara , playing the most North Indian tunes , especially from Punjab using this western instrument.
I see him in the tradition of Punjabi folk bards , like Ranjha himself was , a herder musician.
I have co-traveled with Harpreet for many years , listening to his growing mature sound , his various collaborations , his ups and downs , his passion for carpentry and cooking , his journey from song to song .
I supported his first album “Ajab Ishq Maati Da” when the promised crowdfunding failed to take off via our company Random Maharasa Entertainment
Very happy to see him finding his feet slowly in Mumbai , and creating a whole new ecology of support .
Well if he is a Ranjha redux, Heer cannot be far away !
Great also to see established new stars from regional cinema , like Neha Mahajan , very popular in Marathi cinema to support fresh upcoming musical talent with no godfathers in the industry.
4th May, 2016
It feels good when someone you believed in, makes it .
‘Makes it’ need not be success in money or great fame , but their life becomes a viable possibility with their passion. That they can live their life as much on their own terms as possible .
Harpreet is from Kurukshetra, and sings songs made from poetry . Punjabi, various dialects, not rap, not pop, not standard love or hate songs .
From Bulle Shah to Nirala, from Guru Nanak to Pash to his own lyrics .
He had once told me, that he wants enough work, so he can keep writing and composing songs and music that he loves and travel the road to keep performing.
After the release of his album last May #AjabIshqMaatiDa, he has had a great journey .
As the Hindu reviewer wrote “almost each song in the album is an enquiry into life and its mysteries and looks at the beauty of what exists, provoking the listener to question what might be. The album seeks to show the way to deeper truth and awakening by invoking the divine in nature and in ourselves. It is a heartfelt and touching exploration of ancient wisdom and contemporary possibilities.”
According to Harpreet – “Ajab Ishq Mati Da is a tribute to the diversity of languages and cultures of India. It is a passionate celebration of a vast array of Sufi and other writings that widens the listener’s horizons, both in terms of sound and poetic content. The album comprises eight songs and brings forth a range of different genres and the variety of themes – from simple, contemporary Hindi lyrics to Punjabi Heer, mystical poetry by Sufis as well as a few penned by me.” The album has been produced by Susmit Sen, founder of Indian Ocean and one of India’s leading guitarists.”
Harpreet got a break with Yashraj Films when they selected his song ‘Kutte‘ to be featured on movie soundtrack for ‘Titli‘ .
And now he is composing music for an upcoming play in Mumbai .
He is on the road , making enough to travel , perform and live his good life .
As I say. Jiyo.
27th Jan, 2016
14th October, 2015
I have written about Harpreet earlier. His song “Kutte” has been been show-cased as the promo-song of Titli on the Yash Raj Films YouTube channel .
It will be used as the promotional song for the film.
The boy from Kurukshetra who came to Delhi with just a guitar following his passion . How Susmit Sen of Indian Ocean (Now independent) took a liking to him and supported him .
Then he made a song with lyrics by Deepak Dhamija and Maheep Singh called Kutte , for a short play with the same name , Directed by Deepak Dhamija .
Then I supported his first album ‘Ajab Ishq Maati Da‘ via my company Random Maharasa Entertainment so poetry from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh could be put to music .
And now soon after , his song gets selected for what I jokingly call the “Item Number ” outside the film, Titli, which was nominated for Caméra d’Or at 2014 Cannes Film Festival
Directed by Kanu Behl and produced by Aditya Chopra and Dibakar Banerjee it is already making waves, showing Delhi’s underbelly , just like Khosla ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye did .
Deepak just called up to say that a boy from Bhiwani who writes the song and a boy from Kurukshetra who sings and composes it can be recognised for their raw talent . With no big studio recording or media support .
As I say Chardi Kalan hamesha, happy to see that I can still be lucky for co-travelers!
You can buy the album here :
23 June, 2015
BBC Hindi does a review of Harpreet’s album ‘Ajab Ishq Maati Da’
And what a review on MoiFightClub the alternative film discussion site. Each song is reviewed with love and honesty.
I would love to hear what you have to say about the album, but personally speaking, all the new talent that comes up these days has just bollywood aspirations, and that leaves us music fanatics to look to our neighbors and get jealous. There are very few bands which try to present themselves as viable alternatives to the ‘drum-dholki-dafli-autotune-infected-Bollywood’ sound company. Harpreet represents a new sound which I hope gets popular and sells!
Art speaks differently to different people. To me, a good music album always makes me want to become a musician and explore the wondrous heritage of music that our country has. Take the old sounds, mix them with new, let nothing be what it has been since ages. Change, because it is wonderful.
We always tag the foreign music with ‘genres’, this album is Indian, and boy, what a genre it would be if paid attention and money.
For once, I wish we would give out ‘star’ rating because this album and the supreme effort would have got 10 stars out of 5. Illogical? Well, which star rating isn’t?
25th May, 2015
DD News covers Harpreet in Rang Tarang !
Who else will telecast a 4 minute coverage of an event in this day and age !
In its inimitable slow and meandering style DD still lives in a timeless zone .
Aur Harpreet ke gaano ko aisa hi timelessness ki space chaihe .
14th May, 2015
Delighted to have funded, mentored and presented Harpreet Singh , the young talent from Kurukshetra , Haryana , who is now on tour in places like Panipat and Chandigarh to present his live-show based on his debut album ‘Ajab Ishq Maati Da‘ .
Random Maharasa Entertainment was set up by me to explore the unique alchemy of the classical, folk, bhakti-sufi, philosophical, spiritual and contemporary forms of aural and visual creativity, whose foundations lie in the ‘inner infinite’.
Very happy to be meeting, working and collaborating , playing and exploring , what I now call ‘New Possibilities, Ancient Pathways’ .
For nothing is new, nothing is ancient, they all are part of the eternal ‘tri-kaal’, all of time in a moment . The issues with the ‘trikaal darshan’ are ours, with our clinging to linearity as a personal obsession with a single life-death syndrome.
That block and border of being is yours alone , conditioned by those who put the fear of God or Power in you , and of your own fears .
The first rule of freedom or liberation is ‘Abhaya‘ . And the first step of Ishq , is your Maati , the soil which flavours your being.
Harpreet Singh took his cues from the old world poetry of Baba Bulleh Shah, Guru Nanak, Nirala and others. The result was simply implausible. Composed by Harpreet Singh, almost each song in the album is an enquiry into life and its mysteries and looks at the beauty of what exists, provoking the listener to question what might be. The album seeks to show the way to deeper truth and awakening by invoking the divine in nature and in ourselves. It is a heartfelt and touching exploration of ancient wisdom and contemporary possibilities.
According to Harpreet, Ajab Ishq Mati Da is a tribute to the diversity of languages and cultures of India. It is a passionate celebration of a vast array of Sufi and other writings that widens the listener’s horizons, both in terms of sound and poetic content. The album comprises eight songs and brings forth a range of different genres and the variety of themes – from simple, contemporary Hindi lyrics to Punjabi Heer, mystical poetry by Sufis as well as a few penned by me.” The album has been produced by Susmit Sen, founder of Indian Ocean and one of India’s leading guitarists. ”
You can listen to the samples and download here :
Album – Ajab ishq maati da
4th May, 2015
If you are a Punjabi, or want to hear songs of Punjabi poetry or lyrics that carry the flavour of a Punjab which its music industry does not show now , or you love Hindustani poetry this is an album you should hear , and download .
Harpreet ‘s voice is now there in its full range , his first album – Ajab Ishq Maati Da .
27th April, 2015
Ab kya kahen, baccha hai hamara ! Harpreet from our very own Kurukshetra, the land of perpetual war, sings songs of love and passion, mountains and poetry from the poets who are somehow lost in the smog of modernity.
He for me is a kind of contemporary Ranjha , whose Heer , is the grace and lyricism that has been poisoned by the times we live in .
It has been a journey where a young man seeks perfection in every way possible, in his music, in the recordings, in the mixing , in the presentation . Realising along the way that no one really cares , so ab “chalna hoga” par “chalta hai” nahin .
First singer-musician-performer to be presented by an enterprise one has founded to explore new interpretations of the folk, classical and the hybrid, Random Maharasa Entertainment .
It has been an Ajab journey of many people in Ishq with this Maati .
And one friend who has been with him through the whole journey , and let me tell you such friends are not easy to find , who was with him in this roller-coaster journey , protecting and fighting , nurturing and goading him on Vernita Verma.
Herself a film-maker and from Haridwar, she set aside much , so he could complete his first album, his first baby .
As I always tell my bacchas “Chardi Kalan te fateh kar ” !
15th February, 2015
Super Sustain Demo – Dehradun Guitar Co
When a passionate guitarist meets a passionate guitar-maker and a customised guitar is created , what magic must be there !
The Dehradun Guitar Company is founded by a young American who landed up in Dehradun and is making customised guitars for many Indian musicians with local Uttarakhand boys .
This video shares the making of the guitar, the reaction of Susmit Sen when he sees it for the first time fully finished and an explanation of what this guitar does.
Harpreet Singh had told me about DGC first and has a guitar by them too.
This is about quality, excellence and communion. About building communities that believe in sharing brilliance of all kinds. Of the material, the musical and the magical. All in sync.
9th October, 2014
Finally fashion that will create its own lyric and music, rooted in desi. Chhaya Mehrotra is a designer from Banaras who worked with Harpreet to create a Bubbly number at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Spring Summer ’15.
Good to see fashion and its presentation coming from vernacular idioms with its own music.
BUBBLY BANARSI is Chhaya’s WIFW SS’15 collection rooted in the designer’s memories. It’s not only a collection made with Banarsi fabrics and surface techniques but it rather paints a picture of the eclectic city, its lifestyles and culture, through her eyes and experience.
17th August, 2014
“Kal ek ajnabi se main mila,
Poocha ishq hai ye kya bala,
Wo bola ishq jo hai mere bhai
ek ajab si cheez hai,
Jise na mila wo khush nahin jise
mil jaaye dhoodhe khushi”