November 18, 2021 12:30:51 pm
Sonu Nigam needs no introduction as his work continues to speak for him. In his singing career spanning almost three decades, the ace singer-composer has made a special place in everyone’s heart through his soulful music. His talent and songs continue to remain unmatched as he has, time and again, proven his versatility like none other. However, he believes that he would have been “a singer of another level” had he gotten access to formal musical training. Nevertheless, the singer holds no regrets.
In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, the singer opened up about his musical journey, changing music trends, virtual music concerts, music reality shows and lots more.
How did your journey with music begin?
I was born to parents who were singers. I saw them singing right from my childhood and realised that this is what I want to do as well. This came so naturally to me. Even when I was studying or playing sports, music was always a part of my life. It was always brewing up in my mind, heart and soul.
Which of your songs are closest to your heart?
While it is difficult to choose, I would pick Sandese Aate Hai, Yeh Dil Diwaana, Suraj Hua Maddham, Abhi Mujhme Kahin, Kal Ho Na Ho, Satrangi Rey, Is Pyaar Ko Mai Kya Naam Du, Mera Rang De Basanti Chola and Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna among others.
What do you think about the changing music trend in the country?
Music will always keep changing. Music is culture and culture keeps changing. You can’t always stick to traditional music. A new generation has come and they evaluate music and art, in general, differently. We are different from our parents and our children are different from us. We have to keep adapting to the new trends to understand the generation and its pulse. Music has changed and so has the music business. And, we are going with the flow!
Do you think views-driven music is overpowering good music?
People don’t evaluate ‘good music’ by the number of views. They evaluate ‘hit music’ through it. Good music is appreciated always. There are so many songs sung by me and other singers like Kumar Sanu, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi etc that don’t have so many views. But, people who like those songs, still go back and listen to them. Good music is different and hit music is different.
There are quite a few reputed names in the music industry who have emerged from popular music reality shows. Do you see such shows as an important stepping stone in one’s musical career?
These shows give them exposure. It is not to say that they are the sole reason behind an artist’s success. Shreya Ghoshal came from Sa Re Ga Ma. But, you can’t say that she would not have succeeded if there was no Sa Re Ga Ma. The show propelled her to success and to people’s homes. I do believe that music reality shows play a significant role.
The pandemic led to a rise in virtual music concerts. Do you think such shows are here to stay?
Even I did some virtual music shows during the pandemic. It was difficult but it was not so much. You have to sing for yourself in these shows and you have to imagine people’s reactions. It was a different experience. Honestly, I don’t mind them but a live audience is a live audience. The live show experience is incomparable to a digital event.
How has the lockdown affected you as a singer?
I had almost lost the habit of working hard. I worked so hard earlier. It took me some time to get back to the groove. I got lazy just like everyone else. Doing riyaz at home is not the same as catching multiple flights and working outside continuously. But now I’ve finally gotten back my groove. I have worked really hard in the last couple of weeks and I don’t regret it. In fact, I missed it.
What do you think about the rise in music videos in the last couple of years?
The rise in music videos is fantastic. It’s a piece of good news for the independent music industry. Lots of good music is coming now. I have sung some incredible songs lately too. Good work is coming out and these are good days for independent music.
Several indie music bands and artistes are finally gaining recognition in the country. What do you have to say?
It’s a good sign. Recently, we spotted a guy named Shakeel who was sitting and singing on the streets with a guitar in his hands. He said he wanted to collect money for his music education. So, Artium Academy came forward and they provided him with an entire course, free of cost. I have a label called ‘I Believe Music’, which now I’m going to go very aggressive on. That’s the platform where I’ll be introducing new talents like Shakeel. How awesome would it be! Everyone can give only something that he/she has. I have my voice. I can give it to others. If I could collaborate with somebody and give him my voice, it will be good karma for me.
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What role does formal musical training play for a singer?
People always tell me that after I came into the scene and when I started Sa Re Ga Ma, an entire generation of musicians started understanding the value of learning music. Even though I didn’t get a chance to learn music in my childhood, I have always been a keen learner. Had I got a chance to learn music at the right time and age from the right person, I would have been a singer of a different level. In these days and times, due to the advancement of technology, you can actually do a lot more. Everything is accessible easily.
How is Artium Academy going to nurture musical talents in the country?
I am the Patron-in-Chief of Artium Academy which is the academy to educate people who are interested in music, singing, instrumentation, music production or even music engineering. It is for everyone who is interested to learn but doesn’t have access to coaching. We have created live courses and teachers have been trained on the syllabus that will be taught to students. We eventually aim at creating performers out of them. It began just a couple of months back and it has picked up beautifully. It is our way of giving back to the music that has given us so much.
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