Whether it is her music or other activities, Shibani Kashyap does not get hemmed in. By Team Viva
You have done a variety of work, from singing at music festivals to being a judge. What has your journey been like?
I enjoy the journey more than the result. If you have passion and sincerity, you will achieve success. There have been many ups and downs too, which are necessary during the course of any career. But it’s been interesting, from being a judge to a singer, composer, live performer and even a social activist. I feel that it’s very important that we use the full spectrum of our talent. Especially for me, music is a tool to communicate with the world and I hope to bring about a change. Hence, I have a lot of cause-oriented songs. Last year I released one music video called Want To Be Free, which talks about our addiction to social media and how it takes over our lives. It makes us forget about the organic and real things. Now, I’m working on a song called Don’t Drink and Drive to Stay Alive, a song against drunken driving. For me, it’s not just about being a voice but, also a personality. I hope that I’m not just creating a brand of my own signature music but also something which people can relate to.
How have you explored various genres of music?
I love experimenting with different genres. It started with pop music with Ho Gayi Hai Mohabbat. And then I had a tryst with Sufi music, after I heard the Kabbalah sing in Rajasthan and at a Durga Puja show in Delhi. Something moved within me, I learnt qawwali and did my song.
Then I experimented with the Blues in Kya Nazakat Hai where I got Murad Ali (Muzaffar Ali’s son) to do poetry. It’s a very interesting fusion. I recorded a song called Sonia with Mika, which is a Punjabi Indian song. My latest is a fantastic Sufi remake of Akhiyan Udeek Diyan and We Main Chori with singer Suryaveer. It’s an interesting collaboration.
One of my favourites has been the collaboration with the LA-based Reggae band, Big Mountain, who gave the hit Baby, I Love Your Way. So they got in touch with me and we did a song called 24 Hours Irresponsible.
I’m really proud of that song because it’s an Indie, Reggae Jazz song and it’s really doing well on Spotify. The experiments still continue.
How is it, performing live in front of an audience?
I love it. It gives me an instant energy exchange with the audience and also a one-on-one response from them when I sing. I have been performing live for more than 19 years now. I started in 2000. From performing at the Channel V awards in 1998; winning an award; performing across the world, I have been blessed. I have done four concerts in Egypt. Then there was a recent tour around the USA, where I held a show in New York, Washington DC and Nashville. Now, I am all set to perform in Gurugram, which is also my hometown and I’m really excited it. I will be singing a combination of my latest hits and some covers. We are a six piece band including me — I play the guitar. We have a flutist, keyboardist, guitarist, bass guitarist, drummer and Indian percussionist.
You have a wide range, so how do you customise your playlist in a way that you connect better with the audience?
Sometimes an artist might get bored performing the same set over and over again. And I do too. So I try to innovate on each performance according to the category and target audience of my show. For instance, in Egypt, they really love the songs of Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. So there, we did an entire Bollywood musical history, where I began my performance with the music of the 1940s, till contemporary times. You really need to research before you hold a show in a particular region before you choose your playlist for them. Soon I’ll be travelling to Sengal and do four shows in Africa. They also love Bollywood. So I’ll be customising this show in a very different and colourful format and twelve dancers will accompany me.
Also, when it comes to college shows, students really like Rock music. And they love melancholic songs, about love and romance. Of course, Punjabi music works everywhere in the world so that is the tadka I put in the second half of my shows. I also add Sufi, which is of course, my own signature music.
With the current Rap culture ruling the industry, do you think other genres are losing their charm?
Rap music has been around for the longest time and it’s caught on in a big way, especially after Ranveer Singh’s Gully Boy. However, it doesn’t interfere with other genres of music. If you take a film like Kabir Singh, its music is very melodious with no traces of Rap at all. So it’s mostly about content. It’s about how good the music is, how well it has been composed, rendered and delivered. So it’s not that if Rap is trending, people will only listen to that. Let’s not undermine and underestimate our audience. With all the audio streaming platforms today, we get exposed to a variety of music. So I think there’s room for everything. Hip Hop is what I’m coming up with in my next song called Ishq, which is an collaboration with DJ Sin from the UK. It’s a UK-based music label called ‘Your Damn Self’. I am really excited about it because they specialise in R&B.
What would you say about the charm of your specialisation, the Sufi-Western blend?
First, thank you for calling it a charm. Yes, I always had to create magic and when you fuse different genres together, there is definitely a jam and some magic. And that’s what I like to do. I like to experiment with different genres. Sufi comes naturally to me. The Western and Sufi blend especially is something in which I am very involved and it’s inexplicable.
As artistes, when we have something natural to offer, it is always more convincing and far more magical. So there’s a certain divinity in it, and that’s what I try to do through all my songs. I like to have a Sufi and Western blend.
Where do you think are the global trends heading?
I think globally everybody is ready to absorb different kinds of music. And it’s pretty much the same everywhere you go, when you have music apps and are exposed to all genres. We have our own home-grown random music, which is Bollywood, an Indie Pop and folk music and classical music. And then we have the exposure to Western music and all kinds of genres. Globally, Spanish music is trending a lot. Especially songs like Desperado and Senorita, they are like global number one hits. So there is something about this language and about the music of Spain, which is hitting the right note. Melody is back. In between, the music was very noisy and it was just about sounds. But now with artistes that hold a lot of expression, I would say a lot of lyrical and musical content is back. And of course, I love Latino and Spanish music and I’m really happy that that is a trend because I completely ascribe to it.
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