Shweta Subram grew up listening to all kinds of music and her work bears a testimony to the fact that she is a very versatile singer. In this exclusive interview, the singer talks about the humungous success of ‘Jalebi Baby’, that one important advice she received from Sonu Nigam, singing her debut Bollywood song alongside Ayushmann Khurrana, upcoming projects and more.
‘Jalebi Baby’ released around 9 months back and was received very well. At the moment, it has close to 120 million views on YouTube. How did this collaboration with Tesher happen?
I was introduced to Tesher’s music through a friend. My friend asked me to go to SoundCloud and check out some of his tracks. I really liked the music that I heard. I sent Tesher a message saying that I really appreciate his work as a fellow musician. He then heard some of my Bollywood tracks on YouTube. At that time, he was working on Jalebi Baby and he was looking for a female voice. He sent me the track, I recorded my vocals and sent it back to him. The interesting thing is that when he first spoke to me, he told me that I will be doing the background vocals. When the track came out, I was the lead female vocalist on it. It was wonderful collaborating with him on this song and I hope we do more work together in the future.
On YouTube, one sees many cover versions and original tracks by you. What’s interesting is the fact that no two songs are similar to each other.
As an artist, I am not defined by any one particular genre. I believe it is very important for a musician to be versatile. Of course, one has to understand their limitations too. Even though I like all kinds of music, I am very well aware of what I can sing and what I can’t. I have not explored rock music yet and not sure if I will explore it in the future. Of course, they say never say never but I know what my strengths and limitations are. I am happy to explore different kinds of music. This is something I learnt from my mentor Sonu Nigam ji. I was a part of a tour with him in South America. During this tour, he told me that it’s very important for an artist to be broad-minded and listen to different genres of music as it helps in broadening your horizon as an artist. His advice stayed with me and I made it a point to put it into practice.
You were born in Bengaluru in India and then, lived in Dubai and Canada. What was the kind of music that you grew up listening to?
Growing up, I was exposed to a lor of classical music. Since I belong to a South Indian family, I heard a lot of Carnatic music. My parents are very religious, so they would listen to a lot of bhajans. Dubai is a melting pot of many cultures and I heard a variety of music there. As a teenager, I would listen to a lot of songs by Backstreet Boys and Celine Dion. I have always been a fan of Bollywood films, so the love for Hindi film music was always there.
You lent your voice to ‘Dil-E-Nadaan’ from ‘Hawaizaada’. Ayushmann Khurrana, the lead actor of the film, was your co-singer. How was the experience of working on this track?
As they say, timing is everything. I was sitting in the airport in Canada and was about to fly to India. Just when I was getting ready to board the flight, I got a message from Bharat Goel, a prominent music producer. The message read, “We are working on a song and we would like to record your voice for it.” I replied back saying that was going to be in India in the next 10-12 hours and can come to the studio to record it. As soon as I reached the studio, Bharat told me that the song will be used in a film featuring Ayushmann Khurrana. He further told me that Ayushmann had heard some of my cover versions on YouTube and thought my voice would fit the song well. I met Ayushmann during one of the press conferences of the film. He is one of the most amazing human beings I have met. He has had a tough journey himself and he knows the kind of struggle outsiders go through to establish themselves in the industry. He is very appreciative of talent and hard work.
You live in Dubai. Does it work as a hindrance towards you doing more work in Bollywood?
Yes, it does act as a hindrance. Things were even more difficult when I was in Canada. The difference in the time zone was huge. Sometimes, they would send me a message from India and I would see it seven hours later after waking up from sleep. The reason I moved to Dubai was because I wanted to be closer to Mumbai. There are many flights and the difference in the time zone is very less. I believe I have taken a step closer to Mumbai. Of course, living in Mumbai would make things much easier. One will get to jam with musicians and meetings like those might lead to work. I feel grateful to have got a lot of interesting opportunities despite not living in Mumbai. Hopefully, once the Covid-19 situation gets better, I will think about spending a couple of months in Mumbai and do more work there.
What are you doing next?
I will soon release a single called ‘Dil Mera Kyun Tadpaaye’. Apart from singing the song, I have written it as well. I am also working on creating some Punjabi songs.