Born in a musical family from Himachal Pradesh, Shivi R Kashyap is a rare woman in the industry to make her mark in the male-dominated space as music director and singer.
She came to Mumbai four years back and worked with banners like T-series, Rajshri Productions and a film produced by Ketan Mehta and directed by Deepa Sahi TERE MERE PHERE.
Recently she composed a promotional track for Vir Das starrer AMIT SAHNI KI LIST and is working on three songs for DILPHIRE. The bold, feisty and very talented Shivi Kashyap opens up about her journey, dream to make A R Rahman sing her composition, plagiarism issue and much more on glamsham’s special section Music Mania.
Here are the excerpts:
It is being said that you are Danny Denzongpa’s niece.
I am not Danny Denzonpa’s niece. That was a fake rumour. I don’t know from where it came. He is definitely my dad’s friend because my dad is a composer. Both Danny uncle and my dad have worked together. They share great friendship. May be from there people took it ahead and presented like that.
We heard you wanted to be a singer, but you began your journey as a music composer?
Actually, I made my first album when I was 13. But yes I have lot of interest towards singing also. When I came to Mumbai, I wasn’t prepared in my mind that I will become a music director someday because I felt it is a big deal at that point. I came here with my demos like any other singer but what differentiated my demo was I didn’t have other singer’s or composer’s track that I sang. I had my original composition to sing and that’s how I met Ketan Mehta and Deepa Sahi. They heard my stuff and signed me for their film TERE MERE PHERE, which was being shot in Himachal, the place where I come from.
How do you balance being a music composer and singer? Which is more taxing?
Obviously, music composing is taxing because at the end of the day you are doing everything, managing, creating the whole product. As a singer you walk into the studio, give your 100% and sing a song, but as a composer there’s lot going around. You have to make sure the lyrics are perfect, make sure all the arrangement is perfect. Everything around the song is just perfect. I love both singing and composing. But, trust me, every time I compose the song, it’s never my decision. It’s always the director who insists me to sing also. I create a scratch of my own and they are kind of used to it.
Are you comfortable singing your own compositions?
I am not a composer who’s singing her own songs. That’s not true and I don’t want people to think that way. Every time it’s my directors who have told me why don’t you sing? I am comfortable singing for others too. I have sung for composers like Raj Hussian, Sandesh Shandilya. Now the times have changed. We all are in the collaborating stage. Like for my next project, I wanted Vishal Dadlani to sing my song but unfortunately that our dates clashed and it couldn’t happen. Music directors are singing others’ compositions. I think it’s a very healthy competition. We all are doing our own stuff and have our own vision.
There are very few woman composers in the industry. So do you feel being in the commanding position in the male-dominated space?
To be very honest, I don’t look at it that way. That’s not my perspective. Neither me nor Sneha Khanwilkar never feel or think that we are to command here. We just make good music. I have my own art and the singer coming to the studio has his/her own art. In fact, all the singers come with their own creativity. We are collaborating here not to rule one another. It’s not a Maths. When we are in the studio, we are just having fun. We discuss and work together. Times have changed. All are of same age and this generation is different. There’s healthy work environment and no one is fighting
Moreover, singers are not puppets. I am not here as a teacher not here to dominate. Singers ka apna ek charm hota hai aur composers ka apna ek. There are a lot of music composers who can’t sing so they are nothing without singers. Its them who carry their songs ahead.
Who’s your favourite music composer from the industry, whose body of work you admire?
I really admire A R Rahman. I am a huge fan. I do have a dream to make him sing my composition because he has such a ruhani (soulful), sufi voice. That would be amazing if it happens. It touches your emotions. I am in completely love with Arijit’s voice, who has sung one my songs recently. I mean who’s not a fan of Arijit today? Besides, I love Shalmali’s voice too. When Shreya Ghoshal sings, it just takes me to another world!
Like many other composers and singers are you also considering to take up acting someday?
I do have acting offers but I am not sure whether I am going to take it. I am not against it but right now I am camera shy. At the end of the day we are all artists and creative people, we like to venture into different things in life and why not, I do like acting. I’ll be coming up eventually with my own videos and will act into it.
What kind of music you like and is it different when you compose?
Since I belong to hilly regions that’s why compositions are bit different from others. I am so much connected to my folk. I have grown up listening to folk music before listening to any other genre. My mom is a classical singer. Probably, I am inclined to music because she has been singing when I was in her womb. In any part of the country, folk music really attracts me. And when you hear my compositions you can feel the reflection.
What do you have to say about copyright and plagiarism issues happening very often with music composers?Do you fear of getting embroiled into one and how do you stay away from it?
As composers we are listening to so many compositions every day. I do fear of getting embroiled into it because in a day we come across so many tunes in one go. Sometimes, there is some piece of music or word that stays back in your head. Anyone would do that mistake but no one would want to do it deliberately. Sometimes it can be an honest mistake. Since we always work in a team, someone would be there to point it out. Sometimes your engineer makes you cautious about it…
How do you come up with fresh compositions? What’s your inspiration?
We are creative people. I visualize my compositions. Music is all about the feel. When the director narrates the situation, I kind of travel into it. If I want to compose a heartbreak song, I would go back to some personal experience and compose it. If my music is able to touch your heart chords, that means I am a good musician. It’s ultimately all about connecting.
Whose voice can make you emotional?
I think my mom’s voice. She is a fantastic classical singer.
Any plans to make your mom sing your compositions?
Absolutely, I haven’t come across a right song that would do justice to her. The day I have it, I will definitely make her sing. She wanted to be a singer in Bollywood. She’s been singing when she was a kid. My parents are quite well-known in Himachal. I love her voice not because she is my mom but she is genuinely an amazing artist. I would be honoured if she sings my compositions.
Are you fulfilling your mom’s dream of singing and taking the legacy forward?What’s your mom’s contribution in your career?
I think my mom would be a better person to answer that. But she told me recently that ‘I am so proud of you of what you doing’. It feels amazing. At the end of the day all you want is appreciation for your work.
She’s got huge contribution in my career. When I was 19, I came to Mumbai and honestly the person who gave me the courage that I can do this was my mom. She has brought me up as bold, carefree and always inspired to follow your dreams. My mum’s actually my hero!
Tell us about your forthcoming projects?
After AMIT SAHNI KI LIST, I am doing DILPHIRE. I do have few more projects, two very interesting ones, but I can’t talk about it right now.