Sunil Koshy is an IT engineer, a singer and a man on a mission. He has started a movement called ‘From Mug to Mike’ through which he trains aspiring singers through workshops and facilitates their recordings at a studio. He hosts music shows where his students perform! He believes that anybody can sing and dreams to empower bathroom singers across the globe! He has even recorded an audio film called Reboot which takes you through the journey of an IT engineer.
Please take us through your life and career so far
I was born in Abu Dhabi and completed my schooling/Grade 12 there before moving to Belgaum, India to pursue an under-graduate program in engineering (specializing in computer science). Sunil is the youngest of three brothers, both his elder brothers are doctors. He dreamed of becoming a doctor himself, but couldn’t make it to the top med schools and went on the engineering route instead. On hindsight, he is happy with his life and his decisions. He’s made a fine and successful engineer and is now following his passion – music.
Right from the the age of 3, I’m told I enjoyed singing and fearlessly sang at functions and Indian get-togethers. As I grew older, I participated in school events and competitions. I wasn’t officially training in singing but singing was close to heart. I was an active participant even at college cultural events in Belgaum. After I graduated, I decided to train in music. It’s natural for someone who has not been trained before, to feel inferior and overwhelmed by others who trained for 10, 20, 30 years or so. This was 2000. I started training in vocals under Vidwan RR Keshavamurthy, a very senior violinist. He encouraged me and helped me build confidence in my music. I’ve learnt different genres from several teachers in the past decade. It’s been very enriching.
Sunil has trained under Vidwan RR Keshavamurthy, Pt Venkatesh Godkhindi, Ustad Faiyaz Khan and now from Rajan(legendary music director duo Rajan-Nagendra).
Meanwhile, I worked with Synergy and Intel. A career at Intel felt like a dream come true. I would attend music class after work. But my busy schedule left me with barely any time to practice music. I quit my job at Intel in 2003 to devote my time to music in entirety.
Shri Shashikiran invited me to train under him at a music gurukul, Carnatica in Chennai. I packed my bags and lived and trained at the gurukul for a year. My day would begin at 4 in the morning. I would learn music, practice and attend concerts. I also learnt about voice culture and developed a new perspective towards music. I made significant improvements and returned home fulfilled in 2005. I took a job with HP.
In parallel, I worked on music albums, sang a few songs for TV serials, even assisted in music for films. It was great to meet so many people doing such great work! A lot of my friends extended their support in finding me new music projects.
Sunil sings in most Indian languages.
In 2012, I decided to create an audio film ‘Reboot’ which takes the listener through the different phases of a software engineer’s life – last day of college, first day of work, first day in the USA, falling in love and so on. I teamed up with the best names in music such as Keith Peters, Alwyn Fernandes, Ustad Faiyaz Khan and top lyricists like Jayant Kaikini. Reboot was a huge hit!
Sunil won the Kannada International Music Award for Best Male Singer in the Non Film category for his audio film, Reboot.
Sometime in April 2013, I created ‘From Mug to Mike’. I realized that people love to sing and need a platform to learn and perform. ‘From Mug to Mike’ aims to be just that. Through the workshops conducted at the recording studio, I train students. They also get to record their singing. I send them the recording CD along with feedback. The first workshop is followed by a Level 2 and level 3 preparation classes. Students who complete Level 3 are encouraged to sing on stage.
From Mug to Mike participants with legendary singer Chitra
We are currently in the 2nd season of ‘From Mug to Mike’ performances. You are all invited – it’s on February 16th at Yavanika Auditorium, Bangalore at 4pm.
We’ve had workshops in Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi and Trivandrum so far. I’ve trained 750 students so far. My youngest student was 5 and the oldest 73. It’s been a fun ride so far. I’ve been invited to Malaysia, US, UAE to conduct similar workshops. It’s very humbling. There is a long way to go.
Sunil’s wife, Archana helps him conduct the workshops. She has written a book chronicling experiences of ‘From Mug to Mike’ students.
What do you love about what you do?
The aim is not to create more playback singers, but to create better singers. It is very interesting to meet so many different people through the workshops.
What are the challenges you are facing?
Being able to convince the world about your idea is a challenge as well as an opportunity. Marketing becomes very critical to spread out word.
Who or what are your inspirations?
Inspirations include legendary musicians and singers including Naushad, Salil Chowdhary, Yesudas, Rafi, among others.
What career advice would you to like to give?
Nobody can tell you what’s right for you and what’s not. Oscar Wilde said, “Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.” Find answers within yourself. Your conviction and efforts will take you where you dream to be. You have to be patient when you are on the path of your dreams.
Let us leave you with a touching ‘From Mug to Mike’ story. Gregory, 63, approached Sunil and expressed interest in being part of the workshop. He is one of Sunil’s students and has even performed at ‘From Mug to Mike’s stage show. Gregory loves music and even writes poems. All of this in spite of a very rough life. His wife has been unwell for the past 25 years of which, 15 years she has spent at NIMHANS, Bangalore. He lives in a dormitory close by attending to her each day.
Image Courtesy: Sunil Koshy
http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/you-can-sing/article5251380.ece – “You can sing”
- “Calling all bathroom singers”
- “Amateurs make their rock star dreams come alive”
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