As Shanay Shah basks in the reception of his latest release, ‘Keh Do Na’, a melody about love waiting to be confessed, the Mumbai-based singer/songwriter talks about the deliberations and calculations in between making music and finding an eventual mark as a young artist. Former finalist on Radio City’s Super Singer Season 9, Shanay decodes the thought behind his latest single and what does he look forward to doing, once the lockdown is lifted.
Since your debut track, ‘Ye Baar’ in 2018, you’ve travelled across the country and the globe, entertaining fans with your music. How do you look at your journey so far?
Shanay: ‘Ye Baar’, my Debut song was released just about 2.5 years back after I had just been laid off from a start-up I was working with. The transition into being a full time musician was tough especially since it was now a lot more than just enjoying my craft; things like managing finances and understanding how the industry works were finer aspects I was still working through.
I was set to release a 5 song EP later that year, on a shoestring budget but owing to some poor choices and involving myself with people who weren’t a good fit for me - the entire EP spiralled due to infinite delays.
My focus ever since was performing live and gathering enough funds to ensure I have a great team of musicians, producers & managers working with me - helping me achieve my goals. In that sense the last 3 odd years have been really fruitful, as I have gone from playing at local bars and cafes, to about 10 international destinations for various events - while also working on originals on the side.
‘Keh Do Na’ speaks about unspoken love. Why in your opinion are most people unable to express their feelings towards somebody they care about?
Shanay: Did you know the technical term for a difficulty in identifying and describing emotions is called alexithymia?
I’m no expert on this, but I think the fear of failure coupled with embarrassment, is why people prefer to keep their feelings unexpressed. I was always afraid of non-reciprocation when I had to express my feelings to somebody I cared about. But the truth is once you are able to overcome it; it’s a beautiful experience. Being able to expressing your feelings to someone sets you free.
The track marks your collaboration with Pradeep Mathews from The Mavyns. How did that come about?
Shanay: Pradeep and I had met at a jam session held at Ibar, in Bandra. He really liked the vibe that I bought in as a performer with my Ukulele and we kept in touch since. One day he called me over to his place and played me this on his guitar.
I was really digging the vibe and kept playing the chords on repeat on my Ukulele as I recorded the tune on my phone. A week later I had a vocal melody in place and the first draft of the lyrics. When we jammed after, we knew we had something really interesting and that’s how it all came about.
Not many know, but you were also the runner up at Radio City’s Super Singer Season 9. Any fond memories of that experience that you’d like to share with our readers?
Shanay: We were 5 finalists who had three super hectic days of rehearsals before the finale. I was totally depressed because the songs I had chosen weren’t really working out, while all my competitors were nailing their performances during the practice. The day before the finale RJ Salil and RJ Archana were interviewing us on their show and I had to sing a few lines of a song and tell the listeners about myself. After we finished I remember getting a text from an ex-work colleague from who I had not spoken for over three years. She said ‘ Shanayyy, I can’t believe I heard you on the radio just now and you sounded so good. I am so thrilled to hear you are in the finale. Good luck.’ That out of the blue text just made me so happy and motivated that I nailed my final rehearsal and got my confidence back.
How are you using the quarantine period to your advantage?
Shanay: Apart from learning household chores and baking cakes, I’ve been working primarily on writing originals, practicing music, and experimenting with genres and covers I’ve never had the chance to do that earlier. It’s actually been a refreshing change in pace personally, allowing me to unclutter from the everyday and focus on what I should be doing next.
Finally, what’s next in store for us?
Shanay: “Finding quality time, to just work on my music” is a sort of go-to excuse for any musician; and with a performance schedule or 3-4 live gigs a week, I was constantly using that as a reason to not entirely finish a lot of the stuff I was working on.
With this current lockdown, all I have been doing is working on those unfinished lyrics and revisiting the melodies that I’d randomly recorded on my phone.
I am also actively looking to build a team of growth hackers who can bring in their marketing expertise while I churn out the music. The main goal now is to take my music to a lot more people; so I could slowly start phasing out my cover music (which has been a major chunk of my working income) and plan a full-fledged tour around my originals and new releases in 2021.
If I do manage to land a record deal, that would be absolutely fantastic. But in the meanwhile - heads down, strings up and focusing on the rest
‘Keh Do Na’ is now playing on Radio City Freedom.