Prateek Kuhad has garnered a slew of international accolades and honors since the 2015 release of his debut LP, ‘In Tokens and Charms,’ an album which prompted glowing features and reviews and cemented his status as a breakout star not just in his native India, but around the world. Kuhad earned an MTV Europe Music Award, took home Indie Album of the Year honors from iTunes, was crowned Best Pop Artist at the Radio City Freedom Awards, and captured first place in the prestigious International Songwriting Competition, which helped launch artists like Gotye and Passenger to global audiences. Sold-out auditorium and amphitheater dates followed, as did arena support slots with Alt-J and Mike Posner, and soon Kuhad was traveling the world for concerts and festivals in Australia, Singapore, Canada, and France. Nike selected him to join their #BleedBlue campaign, Converse invited him to record in Rio de Janeiro as part of their Rubber Tracks series, and when he landed in Austin for the first time, NPR selected Kuhad as an artist to watch among the thousands slated to showcase at SXSW that year.
While some musicians are born with an instrument in hand, Kuhad was a bit of a late bloomer. After an initial attempt at lessons as a youngster, he enrolled in a guitar class in high school and promptly failed it. None of that managed to dampen his love for music, though, and he consumed as much of it as he could growing up in the small city of Jaipur. The internet didn’t arrive in his area until the end of the 1990’s, which meant that Kuhad’s listening diet consisted primarily of the Indian pop and Bollywood soundtracks that filled the local radio dial, as well as his parents’ CD collection, which contained limited Western music.
“After high school, I moved to New York to attend NYU, and that’s when I discovered Elliott Smith” explains Kuhad. “His music changed everything for me. It was all I listened to my entire freshman year. After that, I started listening to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie along with newer artists like Laura Marling and Fleet Foxes. It inspired me to get serious about the guitar and begin writing my own songs.”
The culture shock of life in New York was intense at first, but as he settled in, Kuhad found freedom in the chaos and anonymity, and he soon discovered that the very things that made the city so overwhelming also made it an ideal place to discover himself. After graduation, he decided to follow his dreams and pursue music full time back in India. A pair of early EPs (one in English, one in Hindi) put him on the map with a sound that blurred the lines between organic folk intimacy and lush pop appeal, and his full-length debut was an instant hit.
Kuhad’s songs are poignant and introspective, transcending genres and borders in order to speak to the deeper truths of our shared human experience in all its messy splendor. Sometimes whisper soft, sometimes tenaciously resolute, his voice is utterly mesmerizing, often floating out over gently fingerpicked guitars or ethereal synthesizers to tap into deep wells of emotion. The music calls to mind everything from The Tallest Man on Earth to The Head and The Heart, but it’s all filtered through Kuhad’s uniquely global perspective and vivid, richly cinematic lyrics.
Most recently, Kuhad signed a publishing deal with the LA-based Cutcraft Music, joining a roster that includes the likes of Chet Faker, Izzy Bizu, and CP Dubb.