Score Indie Quickie: Shivansh Jindal – Score Short Reads
- From the first single Pata Nahin to Jeena Chahun, you have come quite a distance. Talk to us about how you started out as a musician
I was 4 when I started learning Hindustani Classical Music from Sh. Anirudhha Pandey (Kirana Gharana). My grandmother, who passed away in just 3 months after I was born, was a beautiful singer is what I have been told.
She had a Masters degree in Hindustani Music. I believe I got my musicality from her. No one else in my family has been into music. I have always been the one taking different routes in my family. Everyone in my family is an engineer, I am a private equity consultant (chose Commerce in school). This being said, my parents have been extremely supportive of my music.
Fortunately, my school had one of the finest musicians to teach me and that really helped me improve as a vocalist and keyboard player. I went on to learn Tabla for two years from Sh. Kumar Rishitosh (Banaras Gharana) and also started learning Hindustani Classical Music from Sh. Avinash Kumar (Faculty of Arts, Delhi University), while I completed Sangeet Visharad from Prayaag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad.
- You were launched by the esteemed composers Merchant Records. How did that happen?
As interesting as it could get, I met Salim Merchant Sir virtually on an Instagram Live. It was the peak pandemic and lockdown phase and Salim sir had started this live video to find new talent and called it ‘Monday Mehfil’.
I got a chance to join in after my constant spam on his comments section to let me in and played one of my originals ‘Pata Nahin’ to him. He instantly loved it and connected with me a few days later to ask if I wish to release the song via Merchant Records. It did not stop here – Salim sir offered to produce the song himself and it has been one of the best and the most dreamy thing that has happened to me.
- Could you take us through your process of writing music and what inspires you to do so?
Most of my songs come from my own life. My mom has been a Hindi teacher and that has tremendously helped me in developing a poetic vocabulary of my own. I write the melody and the lyrics together instead of writing either of them first. I wrote Pata Nahin around 2017, close to my board examinations. The song talks about being lost in a certain race, not knowing what exactly one is looking for.
Jeena Chahun has been highly inspired from the independent life I recently started living in Gurgaon, away from my parents. So, my writing is very non-fictional and comes from a place of honesty. This has always been appreciated by my listeners and thus, people engage with my songs a lot because of the relatability quotient.
- You work closely with Merchant Records. Take us through the work you do with/ for them
Well, a lot of things! I have always been a marketing enthusiast. Even though, my primary job is of a private equity consultant at a global consulting firm, I still spend time in devising partnership and marketing strategies for Merchant Records. To add to that, I work as a talent scout/A&R to find promising and upcoming artists, so that we could give them a launchpad, the same way I got from Salim Sir.
We are a small team at Merchant Records but everyone is pumped to take up whatever comes their way. So, it’s really hard to define what I exactly do. From working on video concepts to scouting artists, from handling the project finances and timelines as an executive producer to handling the social media – I do everything I can with the capacity and capability I have.
- What are some of your key takeaways from working with legendary composers such as Salim and Sulaiman. How has it helped shape you into being a better musician?
You never stop learning. Salim and Sulaiman sirs have been in the music industry for more than 30 years now. What is the most inspiring part is that they are still so keen on learning about new things. Be it technology or a new plug-in – they’re always receptive and adaptive to change.
Second thing I have learnt while working with them is stress-management. Running a music label is not easy at all. We keep encountering the most panic-creating situations. To stay calm and tackle things logically is a powerful skill.
One of the biggest takeaways I have had while working with Salim and Sulaiman sirs is to treat everyone with love and respect. We tour to the smallest cities and the biggest shooting sets for our music videos and shows. I have never seen either of them deny a single fan for a selfie. Their humility makes them apart from so many others and I would always wish to follow that path moving forward.
- As a musician in the Indie space, what are some things you wish existed to help you?
I am fortunate to have been discovered by Salim sir on an Instagram Live Session, but I am certain there are thousands like me who are still out there struggling to get one big break. It’s sad that there is little an independent musician can do to release their songs with a major label in the industry, unless he or she has a lot of money or a massive social media following – but that doesn’t define one’s music, right?
To have more labels promoting independent musicians, audio stores promoting Indie music more or as much as they promote mainstream Bollywood/Hollywood music and easier song ingesting distributors – these would be a few things I would prefer to have around to make the lives of independent musicians a bit easier.
- Talk to us about the production process of your latest track.
Jeena Chahun is produced by Salim Sulaiman sirs, along with additional production help by Muheet Bharti and Anshuman Sharma – who are two excellent producers themselves. It’s a heavy EDM track and all the producers on the track have put in everything to bring out a big electronic sound without compromising with the emotion of the song and that’s what makes them the amazing musicians that they are.
Once the video was ready, we tweaked the drop a bit to match the high energy shots and also added some SFX to make the video more immersive. The track has some really cool elements such as a flute but with a distorted sound and some vocal chops which make the sound unique and fresh. All my singles always have a hybrid sound since I have never been able to incline just towards electronica or acoustic.
- Upcoming projects
There’s a lot of music in making but I am not sure if this is the right time to spill the beans. The plan is to collaborate and release more music consistently throughout this year. We, at Merchant Records, are set to release our annual flagship album – Bhoomi 2022 – which features some of the most renowned and skilled artists from the country, so that calls for a lot of planning, strategizing and preparation.
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/shivansh.j/