Shaan interview: New-age musicians are not dependent on music companies
Noted singer Shaan talks about his latest song Majboor Ho Gaye, the digitisation of music, new talent on the block and how music has evolved over the years
With over 20 years in the industry, singer Shaan is undoubtedly a significant cultural force on the Indian music scene. The singer-writer and composer has worn many hats with aplomb. His melodious voice has been part of Bollywood films and 90s kids’ lives with songs like Tanha Dil Tanha Safar and Musu Musu Hasi topping the charts for a huge part of the decade. In the early 2000s, Shaan was a symbol of the new wave in Hindi music and had a successful career as a solo pop artiste as well as a playback singer in Bollywood along with songs in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada movies. From club favorites like It’s The Time To Disco (Kal Ho Naa Ho) to romantic melodies like Jab Se Tere Naina (Saawariya) and Chand Sifarish (Fanaa), he made his two-decade-long journey very memorable for fans. However, it has been almost a decade since we heard his voice in a film’s soundtrack. Shaan has been busy making singles for his music label Shaan Music and interestingly, his recently released song Majboor Ho Gaye sees him performing as an actor in the backdrop of a story that shows a couple’s emotional struggle after separation. The Mumbai-based 48-year-old singer brings back the charming old era of mukhdas and antaras rhyming in sync. We speak to the singer to find out more about the single.
Tell us about the single.
It’s more of a conventional song that has a poetic format. It’s a romantic song with an opening and proper closing with a rhyme scheme in place. Whatever I compose I want to connect with the audience and this song has that pan-India approach.
We observe that you have been singing romantic songs throughout your career, is there any specific reason?
(Laughs) I have accepted that this is my strength and there is no point in running away from it. I feel when you come up with a song it needs to have a complete package and should connect with the audience as well. Romantic songs mostly have strong poetry, music and lyrics; else there is no point in doing that.
How was your debut acting experience?
I enjoyed that. It was like doing a double role. I got a chance to act and show my acting skills (laughs).
How do you see the digitisation of music?
We used to work with recording companies and it would take years for things to progress for singers. But today it’s all changed. With streaming platforms and YouTube you can just make your song and release it. You don’t have to wait for any music company to back your project, which is why so many young musicians have become so popular without singing in films or being part of any label.
How has the music industry evolved over the years?
Business-wise it has seen a drastic change. The whole digitisation of music has taken it to another level. Musicians are trying to make new music. There is free access to any kind of music. Now musicians are not dependent on anyone and it’s up to you on how much time you want to give and how much music you want to make.
Which songs, would you say, were the game-changers in your career?
Tanha Dil (2000) I would say. This song had my 100 percent contribution. I wrote the song (composed by Ram Sampath). So, it is still very close to me. It worked on its own capacity and connected with every age group. It gave me confidence that I can sing and do better.
You’ve been working on creating songs for environmental issues for the last few years. How has your own perspective towards the environment changed?
I have always been a socially responsible person. I have tried to speak about the issues that concern nature. When you see so much happening around you, you get upset about how much harm we have made to the environment. So, whatever little we can do we should do and I do it through my music.
Majboor Ho Gaye is now streaming on YouTube.