As a young boy who grew up in an Anglo-Indian family in Clement Town, Dehradun, it was customary for self-taught singer, songwriter, and guitarist Winston Balman (34)—he is the vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the city-based band ‘Winston Balman and the Prophets of Rock’—to listen to country, rock, and pop music at home.
However, little did he know that these influences—and word of encouragement from Indian country music singer, Bobby Cash, also from Dehradun—would give him the confidence to pursue a career in music. Even though he is often identified as a country singer, Balman (also a voice-over artist) mentions he has performed Arabic, Garhwali, Hindi, and Punjabi songs. “If you are a ’90s kid, you have probably heard my voice on TV,” he says.
In this edition of Soundscape, we speak to Balman about his musical journey and his latest single Fight On. Excerpts…
Tell us about your music influences.
I have no formal training in music; I am just an inspired kid who decided to take the leap and make music my bread and butter (laughs). But yes, there have been many influences. When children my age were listening to hip-hop and rap, I was being schooled in old school rock ’n roll and country music. As a kid, I listened to many boy bands (Backstreet Boys). I was part of the choir because of which harmony became a part of me. Country music, Southern Rock, and such forms of music was something we would listen to as a family.
So, my influences are artists such as Alan Jackson, Patsy Cline, John Denver, Jim Reeves, Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, I can go on taking names. Later, I discovered Chris Stapleton when nobody knew him; I used to idolise how he wrote songs and his vocal style. Today, my music is a blend of country and rock; it is like the sweet end of something you can listen to at a café and while walking out at night. One person I will definitely give credit to is Bobby Cash. He told me that it was OK to have a career as an artist as long as you pursue it and have discipline in what you do.
What exactly is your single Fight On about?
Unfortunately, Fight On is not a track with the entire band. I wanted to write a song which is bare-bones. Most of the songs I write are personal. Fight On is the end to an era of my life, where I am acknowledging the number of difficulties that I have been through because of a relationship that has done me wrong in a way, and is now over. Between finding the traces of strength, hope, etc., I am also yearning to move on and find love again. It is something that everybody goes through in their life at least once or twice. It is about moving on and finding strength.
Right now, I am focusing on Fight On’s full band edit. There are two other songs we are working on: Girls in the City (pop/rock) and Outlaw on the Run (fusion of Western and Rajasthani folk music). I have also written a Hindi song; an experiment for me. It is on the backburner now, and I plan to release it by year end or next year.
‘Fight On’ by Winston Balman and the Prophets of Rock is on all streaming platforms