‘There are challenges being a band’

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‘There are challenges being a band’

Sunday, 12 May 2019 | Shalini Saksena

‘There are challenges being a band’

Sanam Puri who has sung Fakira in SOTY 2, speaks with Shalini Saksena about why they started off recreating songs on their YouTube channel

How was your experience working with Fakira?

I was in Bengaluru just finished a gig when I got a call to do a song. They said it was urgent. But I had a bad throat and I couldn’t sing properly. When I heard the song, I knew that I didn’t want to miss this song since it was so beautiful. Vishal-Shekhar guided me throughout. The song is a romantic one with a Punjabi chorus and Hindi mukhda.

You have worked with Vishal-Shekhar before. Does it help to work with known faces?

I am fine with working with whosoever. But I have worked with the duo before, they gave me my first song in Bollywood —  Dhat Teri Ki and Ishq Bulawa. My relationship with them is a little different since I have known them for a long time. Also, my present manage was theirs.

Why are most of the songs on your channel recreated?

This was not the intention when we started the channel. We wanted to only do original songs. But back in 2000-13, the indie space was not strong enough. Whatever we were putting out, it was not reaching out to as many people, unless there was heavy marketing. We couldn’t afford it and labels were not ready either. So we decided to do a rendition of Lag Jaa Gale. The response we got was spectacular. That encouraged us and we released other recreations as well. We got messages that such songs united the young and the old.

Is recreating songs a good way to reach out to the Gen Z?

Yes, definitely. But how you do it is subjective. If you make a Death Metal version of Lag Jaa Gale, it would not do down very well nor the correct way to go about it. When you recreate, one should keep the essence and soul of the song intact. The recreated song should sound pleasing.

Do you think there is a lot more scope for independent songs?

Definitely. It is good to see when such songs get 100 million or 500 million views. This means there is lot of possibilities. India really needed this since it was dominated by Bollywood. But it is a joint effort of a lot of people — artists and labels. Internationally everybody is independent, there is no monopoly.

What has changed?

It is a combination of things — the Internet, the many digital platforms and the changing tastes of the people. But first, it has come from the creator. Then comes the label which believes in the product and release there is scope, then the people marketing it.

How does one manage to get over 100 million views?

First, it is the Indian population the food over. But there is no one particular way to do this. There are some songs that become viral for no particular reason and get views because everyone is talking about it. Then there  are some songs that are really good and just need a push. That is how you get to hear different music. Then you see 200 and 500 million views. There is some push. It is rare for songs/videos to get so many views organically.

Where does the band culture stand today in India?

Independent music is coming out but it is from individual artists. It is easy to work with one person and push the artist. It is a challenge when you are part of a band. People don’t understand what a band is. The music you hear is not just one voice. There are so many elements to it and it is not just about the vocalist.

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