His passion for singing is off the scale!
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
Kashan ‘Kash’ Rana, who goes by Kash Band professionally (Instagram: @kash.band; Facebook: @kash.band.bangkok), is enthusiastic and good-humoured as we sit down to discuss his musical journey as a singer-songwriter, musician, and DJ. “As a performer, it’s your duty to lead the audience on an emotional journey from the start to the end,” he tells me. “Any art form can connect with your audience if you know how to do it properly.”
As a student currently finishing his MBA degree at Bangkok University, and someone who has big dreams to enter the Blockchain solution market in the coming years, I’m impressed by his ability to find time for his musical career, together with stints as a model, and as an actor in TVCs around the world, and I tell him so. “I just love music,” he says with a smile. When I ask him about what he loves most about his many musical roles, he waxes eloquent about the different ways that it can bring people together.
“When you DJ, you have the advantage of bringing party tunes and making people dance,” he says. “You can go from making the audience a little groovy and then slowly transition into going crazy by the end of the set. As the DJ goes into a trance state with his performance, so do some of the audience members. This form of expression is beautiful in the sense that it brings people closer, and brings them out of their comfort zone to do whatever they want on that dance floor, where nothing else matters.” On the other hand, he tells me, he connects more deeply with his audience as a singer and band performer. “You can leave the audience inspired, or deeply thinking about something. The connection is more heartfelt.” This is part of the reason why, when he has time off from his Master’s degree, he occasionally sings for the desi community in Thailand. “It’s not really commercial for me though, it’s just a side hobby,” he explains.
As for his commercial gigs, he references his role as a main character in an Italian short film called Soi Tanakan (2020), and more recently, in an episode of Ms. Marvel, a ground-breaking Marvel TV series that is due to come out on Disney+ in 2022, and which features the first Muslim, Pakistani-American superhero in mainstream media. “It’s very exciting, but I unfortunately can’t reveal much to the public right now,” he says, self-deprecatingly.
He speaks to Masala further about where his love for music began, and how he’s coped as a performer over the past two years, when the pandemic prevented large-scale events.
What started your interest in music?
My earliest memory of singing is when I would sing for my mother after she had a long day at work. This is when I was five, and I would watch how my mother’s mood would change from stressed to happy. I have used music for this very reason, to destress and recalibrate. My brother was the first one in the family to pick up an instrument and watching him play gave me the motivation to do it as well. In high school I was in multiple bands, one as a drummer, one as a guitarist and one as a singer. I wanted to do everything. Although after high school, I discontinued music for a couple of years to focus on my education, I would still play every other day, even if it wasn’t as intense.
What genre of music do you like to sing/perform?
I have performed hip hop tracks, house, international pop, desi pop and R&B. Honestly, it depends on my mood, and this is also reflected in my music taste. I grew up on rock, listening to more ‘hardcore’ bands like Megadeth, to punk rock artists like Green Day. Today I listen to just about anything; I really can’t pick a favourite.
Who do you feel that your music usually appeals to?
Girls! [Laughs] But in all seriousness, most of the people who come up to me and say they love my voice are women, and I even have international female friends who listen to my desi songs, and while they don’t know what it means, they love it. I guess guys are just less expressive in general maybe?
The last two years have been difficult for everyone, but particularly performers, as there haven’t been any big events with crowds. What has your experience been like with that challenge, and what have you done to pivot/cope with the enforced changes?
It was challenging in the sense that I love music, and I love singing for people, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling when you perform live. It makes me so happy to put a smile on other people’s faces. The energy and the vibe with live music is awesome, and we couldn’t have that for the last two years, which is a shame. But because of that, I realised I had a lot more time for reflection – on what was happening, on myself, and to just work on my music and make it much better, so there’s always a positive note. In the end, as long as I can sing, I’m good!
However, now that things are opening up again, I’m definitely looking forward to concerts, music festivals; any place with a crowd. I miss that energy where hundreds and thousands of people are together as one.
Over the years, what accomplishments are you most proud of? Do you have any regrets?
I don’t have any regrets. There’s no time to regret. We move on, and we do better. There was a time in my life I was a horrible singer. I used to imagine melodies/ compositions in my head and I just couldn’t sing those notes in real life. I made a deal with myself that in a couple of years I should be able to freely sing and create melodies with my voice and catch any note my imagination gives me. Today I can do that. I am very proud of this.
Do you have any advice for anyone in the same industry or wishing to start out in the music industry?
1. Stop thinking about what other people want or think.
2. Don’t run around for people. When you are good enough at what you do, people will come to you.
3. Work hard, but work smart: analyse your craft and understand what elements need improvement. Practice those elements more. Be analytical with everything possible. Once you do that, it’s all easy.
4. Collaborate. Teach. Learn. The best way to learn is from sharing knowledge and absorbing it.
5. Consistency is everything. Be a person of your word, even to yourself. If you said you want it, you better get it!