September 21, 2021
By the time we begin our Zoom call, it’s nearing midnight in Seattle. Musician Prateek Kuhad has been in the city for the past five weeks, holed up for the most part at a recording studio. He’s working on his next record. “We’re going to do another week here. Full days. Eight-, nine-, 10-hour days,” he said. He’s working with Ryan Hadlock, a producer known for his work with the indie-folk band, the Lumineers.
Kuhad has had a fruitful few years, following a string of successful releases and a mention in former U.S. President Barack Obama’s favorite tracks of 2019 (for “cold/mess”). The singer-songwriter’s fan base in India has soared to the point where every new release is treated as an event, giving him a firm foothold in an industry where Bollywood-adjacent music has often not gotten its due in the country. Before the pandemic ruined gig culture across the world, Kuhad’s shows would regularly feature delirious fans swaying to his gentle guitar strums, humming and mouthing the words along with him. His songs have millions of listens across streaming platforms. In October of last year, he signed on to Elektra Records, a major label owned by Warner, past iterations of which helped usher in the likes of Björk, the Eagles, and Jason Mraz.
The new record isn’t complete when we speak, so Kuhad doesn’t want to discuss it just yet. When I push him about how much he’s changed over the last decade, he says he can’t be an unbiased spectator about his work. “I don’t know if I can be objective about judging myself, or if I’ve changed at all as an artist,” Kuhad said. “I’m obviously not very objective about my music beyond a point. I try, but how can you be? You can’t even be objective about yourself — that’s one of the hardest things about being human.”