A name that needs no introduction, Naresh Iyer will be performing with the Navneeth Sundar Ensemble at Mojo Projects’ Triple Treat: A Battle of the Bands concert on Saturday, the 9th of June. He will be performing alongside carnatic rock band Agam and renowned keyboardist Stephen Devassy.

“To be honest, I am honoured to share the stage with Agam and Stephen Devassy. I have been following Agam since their inception and it is amazing to finally perform with them,” Naresh Iyer told Varnam in an interview recently.

Hailing from humble backgrounds in Mumbai, Naresh shares his foray into the music industry with us. “My mother and sister pushed me to join Super Singer by Channel V. A R Rahman was one of the judges on the show. After I was eliminated, he contacted me and asked me to sing for him,”

Naresh made it to the top 25, but did not win the show. “Things would have possibly been different if i had won the show. But it has always been a dream for me to work with A R Rahman, and I’m so grateful that we got introduced. Perhaps I was not meant to win the show for that reason!” he reminisces.

A multilingual crooner, Naresh credits his Mumbai upbringing for his exposure to all the South Indian languages that he has sung in. He has sung in Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu.

While he was unable to pick one favourite language to sing in, he did share with us his unyielding determination to ensure the enunciation of every word regardless of what language he’s singing in. “I always make an effort to preserve the authenticity, culture and tradition of the language. After all, the composers are trusting you with a song in their language knowing that you don’t speak it. It may not be perfect, but I always try my best to sound as authentic as possible.”

Another interesting thing we found out about this curly-haired crooner: social media doesn’t intrigue Naresh. This bubble tea lover prefers to spend time with family and friends doing activities instead of liking each other’s posts. Hiking, table tennis and cricket are a few of his favourite pastimes. “Also, I don’t want to get addicted to it. You lose out on too much!”

Naresh shares a piece of advice for the younger generation trying to break into the music scene via social media platforms. “A decade ago, social media didn’t have the pull it has today. There are too many talented people, not only musicians but in all fields who did not have the chance that we have today to reach the world with the tap of a finger. Use it wisely!”

He advises us not to overthink. “Enjoy your music, be honest to your craft, be passionate. If you have chosen this path, then put your all into it and the best will follow!”

When asked about Navneeth Sundar, Naresh reveals that they have been friends for more than a decade, and they frequently hang out, “It is so special to share the stage with a dear friend, and Navneeth is a very talented chap, I also approach him when I’m in a pickle about musical intricacies!”

Naresh leaves us with these parting words “The Malaysian market’s craving for music has really inspired us. We don’t need any more motivation than this to do our best on stage tomorrow.”

Naresh also applauds Mojo Projects for introducing the concept of independent Tamil music to the Malaysian audience. “We are very lucky to to be able to get creative and express ourselves through music to the Malaysian audience. It’s about time independent artists gain recognition they deserve!”

As we were about to leave, Naresh stops me and says, “Add this in please, it is going to be an amazing show today. We have prepared an eclectic mix of songs, both old and new and it will appeal to every generation. We are so excited to perform for you, Malaysia!”

So are we, Naresh Iyer. So are we.

Triple Treat: A Battle of the Bands is happening tonight at Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur, starting 6pm.