Music composer Salim Merchant, who is mentoring new talent for an international music competition, says self-expression and originality are the most important elements for an artist. "One of the very important factors in an artist is self expression. That creates self identity," Salim of the popular Salim-Suleiman duo, told IANS in an interview. "These days, a lot of singers are sounding like Arijit Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan or someone else, but not something original. Now, as a music composer, if I can work with some of the icons, why should I work with these kids who do not have their own identity and, not bringing anything new on the table?"
So, he says the first and foremost thing that all the singers should understand is to build their own identity. "As an artiste, it is your inner journey to discover that. If you can do that, the chance is huge to make a difference. "That apart, I think if the artist has the time and inclination, they should try to create versatility in their performance. You might be great in one genre, try out the other one to find out the versatility in you," said the composer, who is also popular as a vocalist.
Salim, along with his brother Suleiman, has worked with many new playback singers in the music industry, including Shruti Pathak, Neha Bhasin and Jonita Gandhi.
He said even when they cast a voice; they look for "originality, versatility and a voice that has an individual personality." Emphasizing on the importance of developing a good ear for music, Salim said, "Music is 50 per cent learning, 50 per cent listening. Unless you are listening to good music, you cannot become a good musician; whether a vocalist, instrumentalist. "And there is a certain way to listen to music for a musician who gives you the creative and technical aspect of a composition," he added.
Salim is mentoring the finalist of Project Aloft Star, which is a partnership between Universal Music India and Aloft Hotels. The competition captures the essence of Aloft Hotel's belief in self-expression through music.
Asked about how he looks at the involvement of corporates in the music business, the CHAK DE! INDIA fame composer said, "It is great to bring two industry people from different ideas together. "Music celebrates unity, so encouragement of corporate company in the music business is actually a great deal."
But, don't the marketing mind controls the creative mind of a musician?
"I can talk about myself, and no, I do not think that the creative expression of an artiste gets compromised before a marketing team. "A corporate highlights their brand value, and I will think about my brand value. So, when it is a collaboration, it is never 'I', it is 'we'. There is always a room for negotiation with a lot of respect for each other," replied the multiple award-winning Salim.
Project Aloft Star started on Tuesday. It has finalists from countries like India, Greater China, Australia, Southeast Asia and Korea, who will be chosen to battle it out on September 20 in Seoul.
(By Arundhuti Banerjee)