Star Spot with Samir Bodhi, guitarist, composer, producer, and recording engineer

Samir Bodhi’s Journey: Insights on Starting a Music Career, Collaborating with Bigger Names, and Venturing into Film Making


Welcome to this episode of Star Spot! I’m Merry, and in this series, I interview InterContinental Music Awards winners and insiders, bringing you exclusive insights into the music industry. Today, I’m thrilled to have with me Samir Bodhi, our Talented winner of 2022.

Meet Samir Bodhi, the InterContinental Music Awards winner and Indian born musical visionary who has conquered the worlds of science, scholarship, and music. As a guitarist, composer, producer, and recording engineer, Samir has worked with legendary Indian musicians and his wife, the renowned Bollywood singer Madhumita Chatterjee. In 2019, he made his debut as a new age artist and producer with his album Stairway To Nirvana, a fusion of Eastern classical music and modern Western music that offers a musical roadmap to peace. In this interview, Samir talks about his challenges and inspirations, reflecting on his multi-faceted life and career, and the classic immigrant experience of thriving in pursuit of his creative and academic dreams. Join us as we delve into Samir’s world of music, competition, and the pursuit of excellence.

Let’s dive right into the interview summary and tap into Samir Budhi’s vast knowledge and experience]. The full interview is available on Instagram – click here to check it out.


Can you give us a brief biography of yourself for those who are just now joining us?

 Sure, I was born and raised in India and came to the United States in 1988 to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. I ended up earning a PhD in the same field and becoming an academic professor. But back in India, I was a session musician and played the guitar. I married my girlfriend, Madhumita Chatterjee, who is a trained Indian classical vocalist and Bollywood musician and started composing and performing music.

After moving to Los Angeles in 2000, where I work as a professor at Claremont Colleges, I started producing Bollywood albums. However, I realized that World music and new age are genres that can help me reach a broader audience in the mainstream market. So, I debuted my first album, Stairway to Nirvana, in 2021, under the stage name Samir Bodhi. The album did exceptionally well and won the InterContinental Music Awards for Best in Asia, a nomination for the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, and other recognition.


How did you get into music production and composition? 

 I started as a musician playing on stage and recording sessions, but it wasn’t until I was a graduate student at the University of Central Florida that I composed my first ever original composition. A person I met, who was opening a line of business for Indian spices, approached me to create an advertisement jingle for the spice line. I created my first jingle of 55 seconds, and he liked it. Then, I started dabbling with a Tascam 8-track analog recorder that a kind gentleman donated to me.

I recorded different tracks at different times and mixed them. One thing led to another, and I began composing, and my first album was for my wife called “Emotional Eyes,” where I composed eight Bengali songs. The lyrics were in Bengali, but the music was Jazz, pop, and rap. I teamed up with Joey Somerville in Atlanta, Georgia, who is a fantastic producer and saxophone player who used to open for Prince. We worked together at his studio, and that’s how I got into producing and composition.


When can we expect the new album to be released?

 We are targeting a release date in April or May. However, we are still working on the tracks, and the mixing and mastering process needs to be done. We are putting in a lot of effort to ensure that our best music is delivered to our fans.


 Can you give us more details about the new album?

We are really excited about the new album, and believe our fans will love it. We are working hard to create something that is fresh and innovative while also staying true to our roots. I’m confident that our fans will appreciate the direction we are taking with this album.


Do you have a specific release date in mind?

 We don’t have a specific date yet, but we are aiming for a release in April or May. We want to make sure that the tracks are perfect before we release them, so we are taking our time to ensure that everything is just right.


What can fans expect from the new album?

Fans can expect something that is unique and different from our previous work. We are exploring new sounds and taking our music in a new direction. We believe that this album will be a true representation of who we are as artists, and we can’t wait for our fans to hear it.


 How long have you been working on the new album?

We have been working on the new album for several months now. It’s been a long and challenging process, but we are happy with how everything is coming together. We are confident that our fans will appreciate the effort and dedication we have put into this project.


What makes this album different from your previous work?

 This album is different from our previous work because we are exploring new sounds and taking our music in a new direction. We are pushing ourselves creatively and challenging ourselves to create something that is fresh and innovative. We are excited to share this new music with our fans and hope that they will appreciate the direction we are taking.


Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your music? 

My inspiration always comes from some kind of theme or topic. It could be a personal experience, a cultural event, or a social issue. I try to create music that is thought-provoking and meaningful, that makes people think and feel.


How do you start working on a piece of music?

 For me, it always starts with some kind of topic or theme that inspires me visually. Once I have that, I sit down with my keyboard and start creating some notes. I constantly record myself on my phone, as I don’t want to forget any tune that comes to my mind. Then, I work on it by fiddling with the beat and putting my melody. I try to create a demo with as many of my arrangement ideas as possible, which I then hand over to David Vito Gregoli, a brilliant Hollywood musician, and a musician in India, to work on. They send me their version of the track, and we collaborate until it’s complete. Recently, I’ve been learning Ableton, which is not easy, but I’m beginning to get a good grasp of it.


How was your experience with InterContinental Music Awards, and what was your takeaway ? 

I was surprised and happy to be nominated and to have won. While winning was great, the additional resources and subject matter experts that InterContinental Music Awards provided were also amazing. As a relatively new artist in the western music industry, I am deeply grateful for these resources and the opportunity to learn more.


What was your experience like winning the InterContinental Music Awards? 

 Winning the InterContinental Music Awards was a great honor and delight. Although I was sad that I couldn’t give my acceptance speech at the time, I was thrilled to have won. I appreciate the additional resources and subject matter experts that were provided, as they have helped me learn more about the western music industry.


What are some of the challenges or ups and downs you have experienced in your music career and how did you overcome them?

 Throughout my music career, I have faced many ups and downs and various challenges. However, I am an extremely team-oriented person, and I always give my team members their due respect and work closely with them. Fortunately, I have had more ups than downs in my career. But sometimes, conflicts of ego between team members can arise, and I have to intervene and manage them.

One of the major challenges I faced was during the creation of my album, “Stairway to Nirvana.” I was blessed to be working with a couple of experienced consultants, Suzanne Doshay, Beth Hilton, and Greg Skelsa, who helped me navigate the entire process. They were fantastic people who assisted me in marketing my album. Another challenge I encountered was working with people in India, where there was a distance and a time zone gap. However, I have overcome this challenge by creating a system where I travel to India, rent a studio, record for a few days, and finish the touches remotely.

Touchwood, I haven’t faced any significant issues so far, and hopefully, it will continue that way. I believe that one reason I feel fortunate is that I don’t depend on music for my bread and butter. I have my academic job, which sustains me. Music is my passion, and I love creating it. I don’t have to worry about it, and I’m not under any pressure. I have started a new project, producing a Bollywood movie based on my story, which is a whole new territory for me. It’s a fantastic story that I love, and I’m excited about the challenges it will bring. We plan to release the movie sometime in the middle of next year, and I’m hoping to approach Netflix and Prime for it. We also plan to approach the Indian Film Federation Los Angeles Festival for a premiere screening of our movie.


What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their music career?

 As someone who has been in the music industry for a while, I would give a few pieces of advice. First, make sure you have a backup career because the music industry is extremely competitive. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and have a side gig while pursuing your music career. Second, it may cost you a little bit of money, but working with advisors who know the business can be very helpful. They can guide you and help you find the right ways to succeed. Finally, I think it’s important to be passionate about your music and work on things that matter, but at the same time, collaborate with others. Once you collaborate with bigger names, their network can help you expand your reach.

The music industry has changed a lot, and it’s no longer just about CDs and album sales. It’s all about streaming and paid streaming. It can be a maze for artists to navigate, so having a side gig is crucial until you make it big enough to be full-time.


Any last word you would like to share? 

I have a new album coming out soon called “Memories of Empathy,” so please watch out for it. I will also be at the Grammys on February 5th, and I’ll be subtly marketing my next album. Additionally, I’m embarking on a new career in movie-making, and I’m producing a Bollywood movie soon. Hopefully, you’ll all get a chance to see and enjoy it.


Samir Bodhi’s Contact Info:


Click here to watch Samir Bodhi ‘s  full interview on Instagram Merry and Samir Bodhi smiling to the camera during the star spot interview.


InterContinental Music Awards Team

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