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Singing superstar Shaan has had so many hits as a playback singer that you would imagine he would never want to revisit the decidedly lukewarm Indipop scene. Turns out, that’s not the case. 2006 sees the release of his brand new pop album Tishnagi.

Sitting in his sunny Bandra office, the singer is relaxed and unaffected. He looks through recent promotional images of himself, finding his own new look a little hard to digest. “Such a pretentious pose,” he says laughing at one shot. About Tishnagi the album though, he is 100 percent excited.

Here is the singer in a candid conversation with The Record, pulling out quite a few surprises as he talks about his new release, the world of playback singing and his outlook on life.

The Record: It’s been a while since you had a pop album out. Tell us about it.

Shaan: Well, it’s Tishnagi this time and it has a lot of variation lyrically as well as musically. For me as a person, I can’t do an album that has just one direction or one style. For a lot of people that doesn’t work because they want to hear just one style all through, but I find that very boring. I can’t say one thing eight times over. So the songs are pretty varied, they are not specifically genre oriented, like one reggae or one bhangra or one pop…it’s not that sort of thing. There are varied influences all through.

TR: You’ve written the lyrics yourself…

Shaan: The whole idea of writing your own lyrics and music is that in a way it is an open discussion of what you feel about certain things. Or else, everyday there are at least five songs being made in this country so there’s no real dearth of that ~ like ‘We need to make more songs or the world will come to an end!’ But if you have something to say that you think has not been discussed or mentioned before in a song format then why not? That’s why whenever I do my own albums I try and write my own lyrics and compose [music] myself because these I feel these are all fill in the blanks that haven’t been done in pop music.
With film music you can’t do that ~ it is very mass-driven music. It has to work from North to South, East to West…so it has to be very mainstay kind of music. Although some composers have experimented, often successfully, but when it comes to Indipop, I think that is the one thing you can do. It is an extension of your personality so I think you can try different things.

TR: You have a new look in your video ~ “a macho look” according to your press release.

Shaan: Did they write that?! [Grimaces] Well, I’ve been trying to get a little fit lately and we went to do the video with a jacket and everything. It was really hot on the terrace at noon so they said ‘Get your jacket off’. There I was in my white ganji doing my rock chops. [Laughs] It was nice. The first call I got was from Palash [lead singer, Euphoria] ~ he said ‘Very good brother, welcome to the rock brigade.’ [Laughs] He was happy that Hindi rock lives on.

TR: How does Indipop compare to playback singing for you?

Shaan: Playback singing has never been my focus. I’ve been very lucky ~ it is wonderful because you get a hit every 3-4 months and it sustains your live shows, it sustains your livelihood. But it is not your song ~ there is no ownership to what you’re doing. To be able to do it, to have music directors ask for you is flattering, but if I had more time to do my own albums it would be wonderful ~ I could work on my albums for two years…in the West they don’t need [outside] sustenance to make an album. Then they go out and tour...

TR: Winners of talent hunts feel that the real competition starts once they enter the world of playback singing. Comment.

Shaan: Their idols are playback singers, which is why maybe that is who they want to be. But for me it was never like that which is why I probably didn’t do that whole struggle that you need to do as a playback singer ~ going and meeting composers, sitting at studios or music companies… I just didn’t find it worth it. I was doing Indipop, I got an offer to do playback, it was a small film, the song worked, I got more offers and the sailing’s going good. Also at the point when I should have been looking at playback singing I was never excited about the kind of music that was being made. I mean, today with the kind of music that the composers are making, it’s very hip and urban and I can relate to that coming from a kind of urban setup myself. A lot of it is interesting. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar are doing some interesting stuff. Himesh Reshammiya is flying with the mix of traditional tunes and western designs. Even our seniors are moulding themselves into the new style. It is a good time for me as a playback singer.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Shaan in the January 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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