13-year-old rock guitarist cuts album at region’s historic recording studio

SEATTLE — A Seattle-area teen is making a mark in the music world. He cut an album at one of the region’s most historic recording studios.

Nikhil Bagga has gone from guitar lessons to being a full-blown recording artist in just several years.

Bagga took piano lessons until the fourth grade and then he switched to shredding on the guitar.

“The rule in the house was that we had to play an instrument. So, I’ve always really come from like a musical family,” said Bagga.

At the ripe old age of 13, Bagga has displayed a somewhat rare mastery of the guitar.

“I feel like just a lot more adrenaline,” Bagga said.

Bagga has also taken his talent onto the ice as he played the national anthem at a Kraken game this past season. It was the first time he played it for a crowd.

“It was absolutely surreal. I was just like, at the start, I was just focusing on the guitar, and I was just so nervous because it was almost dead silent, the teen said.

KIRO 7′s Ranji Sinha watched him in the studio, where he said it was clear that Bagga fell into the music. Bagga’s rendition of the anthem will now lead him to perform it at a NASCAR race, a busking performance with the Sounders and at a Mariners game in August. It is all because he sent a demo to the Kraken, and they gave him a shot to play.

Bagga is not a guitar novice. At a nondescript building in Shoreline that is home to London Bridge Studio, a step inside is like a trip to Seattle’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is also the place where the teen recorded his album, “Leap of Faith,” at the age of 11.

“Eddie Vedder recorded in that booth and when Eric told me that, I was just so like, actually?”

Bagga admits that half of his friends probably don’t know who Vedder is, but he does, and his producer Eric Lilavois said Bagga is an encyclopedia of music.

“Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Eddie, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, they were all here and now, kind of, I like to say, maybe, following in their footsteps,” said Bagga.

“He fits right in, to the magic. He knows that and he steps right into himself and it’s really incredible to watch,” said Lilavois.

Bagga’s encyclopedic knowledge was on full display when he gave Sinha a sonic tour through the history of rock.

“You name a song and he can play it,” Lilavois said.

“Got Ben Smith from Heart and Jeff Raus, you know these are big players in Seattle’s scene and so for him to just step right into it and communicate with everybody and just really learn throughout the process, it was fantastic,” said Lilavois.

Bagga’s father said stereotypes about Indian kids don’t apply to his son as he has a future that clearly has a guitar in hand — whether it’s shows in Seatte, playing sporting events or riffing off the greats.

“Writing music for me is just, it gets easier because the ideas just kinda come to your head,” Bagga said.

“At the core, he believes that music is universal,” Lilavois said.

“It’s just like a simple thing that can work wonders,” said Bagga.

Comments on this article