From giving up on music to pursue a more professional career to writing and composing songs for a Bollywood movie, Pinto, Creative Head, FCB Ulka (West) and National Creative Director - Branded Content, has come a full circle
Roshni Nair | Mumbai | March 30, 2017
When a 20-year-old Keegan Pinto went and got his long, musician’s hair cut, it was because he had figured out that he might not be able to sustain himself through music.
“I was always into performing music or professional music. I was always a musician in that sense. Music began at 14 for me.”
Pinto was only 14 when he and his friends started a band called Gel where he was the vocalist.
“Gel was a pop-rock band. We played some Pink Floyd, some Sting, some Bryan Adams. We also had one original of mine called Fall.”
But it wasn’t long before Pinto had to quit music.
“There is no money in many genres of music in India. I don’t think there is a liking or orientation for live music or live performance in India. I don’t know what the reason behind it is but there is a problem. Live performers don’t have a strong, steady journey. The recording industry is harder because it is Bollywood based, it is not like you can record an indie album and find a commercial market for it. So, you are between a rock and a hard place.”
Eventually, Pinto realised that in India music had ended up becoming a second or first passion and that you had to have something else to make a living.
“My hair was really long and I think I had this life changing moment where I proactively went and got a haircut at Hakim Aalim’s. This was way back when Hakim Aalim’s was a small hole-in-the-wall place that was operating out of an apartment in Versova. I then went and got myself a proper post-grad education in advertising from New Zealand.”
Pinto then threw himself into the rigours of a professional life and looking back today, is glad that during the early years of his professional life music did not consume his life.
“My conventional career began after I returned from New Zealand, having completed my post-graduation. What is interesting is that in the early years of my career music did not bother me. I think that is a huge blessing because that would have shifted my focus completely. Music came back to me later very organically.”
A few years into his advertising career and ICICI Prudential happened to him.
“I remember we were sitting in a restaurant in Bandra. We had received the brief for ICICI Prudential and were putting the songs together. We realised that it was turning into another montage video of guys doing good things for their families. That is when I knew that what it needed was a nice hook and that is how I ended up writing ‘Bande acche hai’. I composed that entire song.”
Pinto believes that the film gave him a serious edge and the rest as they say is history.
Today, Pinto has written and composed two songs for the Bollywood romantic comedy ‘Running Shaadi.com’ and is all set to meet with a Bollywood manager and some directors and truly embark on his Bollywood journey.
Taking us through how Running Shaadi.com happened, Pinto said, “While I was still at Lintas, I was shooting a film for Lifebuoy and I was working with a director called Amit Roy. I did not know what this guy had done in the past. We got talking and he told me that he had directed Sarkar and Sarkar Raj among other films and then he told me about this film that he was going to shoot in about 40 days’ time. I told him that I was a musician too and Amit said he would send me a brief. That is how I got to create those two songs for the movie.”
A true-blue Bollywood loving musician, Pinto believes that for people to take you seriously in Bollywood you have to take Bollywood seriously.
“A lot of young boys and girls are not Bollywood musicians. They love jazz and metal and Indian indie but there is a rare ‘badnaam’ breed which is the unabashed Bollywood musician and you won’t find too many of this breed. My greatest influences have been RD Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal.”
Pinto also considers John Mayer to be one of his biggest teachers.
“I think he is the best lyrics writer of our times. He has also created some beautiful and sticky melodies and is also a very strong guitar player. John Mayer has been a big influence.”
When asked whether he loves writing lyrics more or composing more, Pinto doesn’t miss a beat before saying composing.
“I co-write all my songs but I feel composing is more fulfilling. Every piece that I compose is my baby. Melodies stick before words.”
Accuracy in following the given brief is the one thing that Pinto believes his career in advertising has lent to his career in music.
“Advertising and working as a professional will teach you how to be accurate to a brief. You need maturity and intelligence when it comes to brief-cracking, I might not be the best music composer around but you can’t mess with me when it comes to understanding a brief.”
And what does music really mean to him?
“I think it is the true me. It balances my energy, my existence; my soul enjoys it that much. It is the real me and that is the best definition that I can give.”
Some of Pinto's work: