‘We Must Have Faith In Original Music’

‘We should have original songs.’
‘If we don’t, there will not be anything to look back on.’

As a singer, Shilpa Rao has always tried to give her audiences something new.

Born and raised in Jamshedpur she completed her Master’s in Mumbai, before working as a jingle singer for three years.

During her college days, she recorded the song Javeda Zindagi in Anwar (2007), making her Bollywood debut.

“We need to take that leap of faith when it comes to original songs,” Shilpa Rao tells Rediff.com Contributor Prateek Sur.

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You are known for songs that have a strong melodic base. In recent years, songs seem to rely more on electronics than melody. Do you think electronic music is hampering Indian music?

Electronic music doesn’t hamper any song. A song by itself should have its own storyline.

The melodic content that a song has depends on the song itself.

Melody is always independent of everything else. Melody is above everything else.

It is about the singers. It is above the production of the song.

Melody and lyrics are the two pillars that hold a song together.

The songs that I have sung always have had great lyrics. I always gravitate towards great lyrics.

I love songs that have something to say.

If the melody of a song is intact, you can do anything with it and it will sound good.

Controversy tends to surround remixed songs. Which do you prefer — remixes or original songs?

I don’t see it as a controversy.

I feel it is something that should not happen.

We should have original songs. If we don’t, there will not be anything to look back on and identify these 10-20 years.

I would like to be known for doing a certain set of original songs when someone looks back at my work. I am a huge supporter of original music.

Are you saying original songs are suffering because of remixes?

I think there are many people in our country who are very talented. They create amazing songs and they have an amazing lyrical sense.

Plus, there are such great music producers in our country and so many great vocalists as well.

We need to have faith in original music and we need to put it out there.

It is just a matter of taste. We need to take that leap of faith when it comes to original songs.

This year you became a Grammy-nominated singer with Love Letters. Have things changed?

It boils down to how you get back to the studio and work.

Even if you have won something or lost something, it should not really matter.

The only thing that should matter is what song or project you are doing right now and your commitment at that moment towards that song or project.

Of course, awards and nominations are always welcome. We all accept them with utmost gratitude.

But, whatever the result, the only thing that matters is how hard you work when nobody is looking.

With so many singers in Bollywood these days, how does one create a niche for oneself?

You should always remember why you decided to do it in the first place.

If you are here to be a star, I don’t know what to tell you.

If you are here because you want to become rich, I don’t know what advice I can give you.

But if you are here because you love music and it makes you happy, you are good to go.

Then, nothing will deter you because you will always get your satisfaction and happiness from the music that you create.

Is working more difficult now in this new normal? What precautions do you take?

First and foremost, everybody, please get vaccinated. That’s the only way we can get through this.

When we record in a studio, we are very careful.

We try to ensure that only the minimum number of required people — to a maximum of three — are in the studio.

Even during shoots, people try to keep social distancing.

They wear their masks till it’s time for the shot. They stay away from other people.

I am scared of getting COVID. I don’t think it’s okay to say we are safe because we are vaccinated.

We can only breathe easy when WHO says the pandemic is over.

Till then, we are nowhere close to the end so please maintain all safety measures for yourself and for the people around you.

If you don’t have good health, you cannot do anything.

There is no substitute for good health. You have to take care of your health.

Congratulations on your wedding. Has life changed after marriage?

Thank you so much (Shilpa wed visual artist Ritesh Krishnan on January 27).

We have promised each other that we won’t change anything.

We want to be with each other without changing each other. That is the whole point of spending a life together.

Hopefully, we can add to each other’s lives as companions.

What’s next?

I’ve finished a few recordings and we are waiting for the release dates.

Some of the songs are for films and some are independent music.

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