Categorized | Feature, Interviews

Take advantage of your social voice as a musician: Shilpa Narayan

Posted on 23 June 2016 by admin

Pop/R&B singer-songwriter Shilpa Narayan launched her music career in 2013 by partnering with MySpace and releasing her debut single “Renegade,” an instant breakout hit that not only resonated with global audiences for its electro-tribal dance beat, but also its message of perseverance in overcoming a destined standard, a battle Shilpa herself has fought being an Indian woman in the music industry.

Along with her upbeat pop, soul infused ballads and stripped down acoustic medleys, the Atlanta, GA native released her first album Stand Alone (2012), with the self-title single “Stand Alone” and “Change Your Mind,” as well as her second album Through Haze (2015) including “Baby Go Home” and “Pinch Me.”

Her music has already generated buzz on MTV, VH1, BBC Radio, Yahoo! Music, MTV Indies, AOL Music, Vibe Magazine (Named Artist to Watch), OkayPlayer, thisis50.com, RyanSeacrest.com, ChannelOne News, ArtistDirect, as well as praise from The Voice producer and host Carson Daly, who handpicked Shilpa’s submission to be sent directly to the show’s producers for consideration.

Even with her initial success, Shilpa realizes she still has a long road ahead. “I don’t think I knew going in, how difficult it would be and how eye-opening of an experience it would be,” recalls Shilpa about her first experiences with the music industry. “It really forces you to grow up and also become comfortable with who you are and the life decisions you make. My music truly reflects a lot about that inner struggle I’ve had, and I’m hoping others will relate to it.”

Here’s Shilpa’s interview with Generation Next:

Please tell us a bit about your academic/family background?

My parents are South Indian and I have one older brother who also lives in New York with me. My dad is an engineer and my mom is a journalist. In college at Georgia Tech I studied Business, Marketing and IT, not really being sure what profession I would get into after that. I often wish I had gone to school for music, but unfortunately I didn’t really start singing until almost my final year of college…I was a late bloomer 🙂

Why be in the arts?

I’ve always been a little bit on the introverted side, and for me music is my mode of expression. It’s a beautiful way to convey your emotions and hope that others can relate to your story. Being in the arts has taught me the importance of confidence, perseverance and allowed me to appreciate different forms of music from around the world.

What is it for you? American music or Indian music?

I get inspired by both but listen more to American music.

Why do you think many modern songs & music videos are not like evergreen songs & music videos of the past?

I think as a society, we’ve changed so much in the past 30 years, and modern songs and music videos reflect that. Listeners want to hear sounds that are different, we thrive off the change, and we’ve finally come to a point where all music is appreciated and embraced.

Do you believe art is for entertainment or for social awareness? One can argue that with so much disturbance in life, people would like to enjoy art for relaxation purpose only.

I think it’s a mixture of both. We are lucky enough to have freedom of speech and be able to use music as a platform for social awareness and change. I think it’s important to take advantage of your social voice as a musician, and project what others may not be able to. That doesn’t mean you also can’t make beautiful music at the same time!

What’s your family’s reaction to your profession choice?

I’ve been super lucky to have a very supportive family, who respect my decision to pursue music. At the same time, they’ve also always kept me grounded and I think it’s always important to have a Plan B.

Is it a profession where you can make money?

It’s definitely a profession where you can make money but is really different than other professions. For musicians, you actually lose money for a while, as you need to invest in studio time, instruments, lessons etc.

There isn’t a defined amount of time until your next paycheck, and it takes years of determination and patience before you might even get paid for a gig.

 I don’t think any musician ever does it for the money. It’s a passion and if you happen to get paid along the way, that’s great, but if not being able to do what you love is payment enough.

Do good looks matter? Do they get you into the door?

I want to say that they don’t matter, but unfortunately it’s an industry where imagine is very important. I don’t think you necessarily have to be “good looking” but I think you have to have some sparkle/ “it” factor that makes you appeal to larger audiences. I think that may help get you in the door but I firmly believe if you have the talent, nothing else should matter.

How do you keep yourself fit?

I actually have struggled with my weight since I was a kid, so it’s always been a challenge! I workout 5-6 times a week doing a combination of plyometrics, running, boxing and strength training. The gym has become one of my favorite places and I think it’s important for my mental health as much as my physical health.

 How much time do you spend on social media?

Probably about an hour a day – I’m constantly checking snapchat, instagram and facebook! It’s not the best habit but I mainly use it to see what’s trending and what people are listening to.

Is the industry different for men vs. women?

I think so, yes. I think women are a little more pressured to have the perfect image then men are. I think it can be hard for a woman to be known as a singer rather than by her looks first.

What was the hardest for me when I first started, is that I trusted everyone who said they were a “producer” and could help me in my career, not realizing that many of them were trying to take advantage of me. I don’t think guys face that same challenge as often.

What and who do you turn to when depressed?

I turn to my guitar and my mamma, who are both the best therapists out there.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Hopefully still writing, creating, and being inspired.

Your favourite male artist

Right now – probably James Bay.

Your favourite female artist

Tie between Adele and Beyonce (QUEEN BEEE!)

 What are you currently working on, and what’s coming up in the future?

I’m currently working on a new song with the incredible Rishi Rich and also a remix of an old song from the 90’s, which I’m super excited to share in the next couple months! For more info visit www.shilpanarayan.com

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