Born and brought-up in Mumbai, Shyamoli Sanghi has been making headlines, courtesy her music videos that have gone viral. At 19, Shyamoli, India’s most recent teenage pop idol brings a lot more to the table than any average overnight viral sensation. The Hindustani classical singer, who started at the age of 6 under Shampa Pakrashi, is an Ivy League double major, pursuing Math and Philosophy at Stanford University. Apart from completing a Visharadh Dwitiya examination in Hindustani classical vocal from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, she has finished grade 5 in piano from the esteemed Royal College of Music, UK. In fact, Shyamoli can also play the tabla and harmonium. With over nine million views on YouTube, Shyamoli’s single, Tu Naa Aaya, has managed to make viewers sit up and take notice of her melodies. This youth icon is on a nine-month break to chase music and explore her opportunities in the industry. She has now lent her voice to three TV serials, two of Balaji Telefilms productions - Kalash and Ajeeb Dastan Hai. “For anyone who wishes to make a career in this field or any other, I would only say that it is important to prioritise and manage time efficiently. Take your family and near ones into confidence and work hard” says Shyamoli.
How did you convince yourself to act in your own song and face the camera at such a young age? What did you gather from the experience of working in such a new way?
My dream has always been to sing original numbers and the kind of songs that I associate with personally. So, I am happy that I am getting to live my dream. However, what was a complete surprise and a bonus was being able to feature in the videos for the songs. The entire process of facing the camera was a bit unnerving. It took me some time to learn to become comfortable in front of the camera, but I managed with the support and constant guidance of the crew. It was a new and engaging experience to understand what goes into shooting a video and the dynamics behind it all. I have always wanted to be a playback singer and all of what I am doing currently is a stepping stone to becoming one in future.
The major problem faced by youngsters of your generation is the ability to “prioritize their work”. How do you balance out your love for music and passion for academics?
Currently, I am pursuing an undergraduate course from Stanford University in Mathematics and Philosophy. Both are vast subjects and I barely get any free time between my studies and pursuing a career in music. As you rightly said, it is prioritizing work that matters at the end of the day. Even when I was younger, I tried to strike a balance between my school studies and completing my Visharadh Dwitiya examination in Hindustani Classical Vocal from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya for learning music. I have also finished Grade 5 in Piano from the prestigious Royal College of Music, UK and can play musical instruments including the Tabla and Harmonium.
I try to manage my time and prioritize what is to be done when, and this helps me find a balance. After completing my first year at university, I took a six-month break to record my first two singles – Tu Na Aaya and Dorr. My third song, Ahida, which is a Sufi composition has just been released. I have now resumed studies and giving equal importance to both these aspects of my life.For anyone who wishes to make a career in this field or any other, I would only say focus on your goals and what you want to achieve. This will help you in taking things forward more efficiently. More importantly, take your family and near ones into confidence and work hard to make your dream come true.
How was your experience of recording a single and that too with a famed music director like Ravi Singhal?
I have been passionate about singing since I was a little girl and that perhaps that gave me the confidence to record my first single and the other songs thereafter. The process of recording a single and that too, with a famed music director like Ravi Singhal was definitely overwhelming.I want to create original music and keep learning as I move up. And with Mr Singhal, I got that opportunity. He is a great mentor and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him forall the three songs – Tu NaaAaya, Dorr, and Ahida – and have learnt a lot too.
Your singing and swaggering debut have amassed over 13 million views on YouTube in a month. How do you feel to be known as the Indian Hannah Montana and what are your future plans?
Hannah Montana is a wonderful singer and artist. But then, I would love to be known as Shyamoli Sanghi and be recognized for myoriginal compositions. I thank my fans for giving me so much appreciation and encouragement and loving all the songs I have sung so far.
In respect to the tremendous response to my first 3 songs, although I was confident thatpeople would like them, I was not expecting over 28 million views in a span of 4 months! It is humbling and a matter of pride for me and my family, as well as for those who mentored and worked with me.
I have always been a fan of Bollywood movies and it has been my dream to become a playback singer. I hope to get opportunities to sing in movies and work with talented, creative musical minds and sing in diverse genres. Songs full of meaning and emotion are what pique my interest. As far as studies are concerned, I have always been academically inclined. Mathematics has always been my favorite subject and I do not plan to discontinue studies but give equal weightage to both.
Did you really have an explicit marketing strategy for your releases which could garner more reach?
All my songs have been released under the label of Zee Music, which in itself helps me reach out to a wider audience, given the fact that it is a recording label to reckon with. For my third song, Ahida, we have entered into a special partnership with Gaana.com. YouTube has been a great platform as well and helped me garner many fans and supporters who have shown a lot of love and encouragement and liked my songs – 28 million views in just 4 months is overwhelming! I am thrilled by the fact that even veteran producer Ekta Kapoor and music virtuoso Shaan have appreciated my songs.
How was your experience of working with Siddharth Nigam who is an already established TV actor?
Siddharth is an extremely dedicated actor and very professional in his attitude. Not even for a moment did he make me feel like a newcomer and made sure that I was comfortable at each and every point during the shoot. Although he has achieved a lot at a young age thanks to his hard work, Siddharth is a very humble individual. I wish him all the best in his career.
What was your inspiration behind choosing Tu Na Aaya as your opening track?
When I met Ravi Singhal (the composer of Tu NaaAaya), we instantly clicked. Above anything, it is the connect between our ideas on music and the entire thought process about composing original scores that inspired me.It was after working together and deliberating for some time that we decided on this songappropriate for my age. When Zee Music heard the song, they loved it and decided to produce it. That’s how the video also worked out. Not only was this a tremendous breakthrough but the song also received over 13 million views in the first month of its release.
What's your opinion about the modern musical age?
I think there is an immense scope for upcoming artists in the music industry today. The Internet has shrunk our world to a great extent. Everyone from aspiring artistes to superstars is using the digital platform to market their music. It is a great way to build andaccess communities and approach a target audience to present and promote your work.
Being an expert in classical music and a lover of slow, romantic Bollywood songs what are your plans of expanding your horizon and trying out new genres? Is that a risk you would be excited to take?
Absolutely! I have already started on the path of trying out diverse genres. All the three songs I have sung for have a different mood and emotion. While Tu Naa Aaya was a soft and melodious song, Dorr was a more vivacious, coming-of-age number. Ahida is an out and out Sufi offering, a genre that is very close to my heart. Even at Stanford, I am part of an acapella group called Talisman through which I get to perform in various languages including Zulu, Zhosa, Spanish, Mandarin, and Shona. My dream is to become a playback singer, as mentioned earlier, and this will give me an opportunity to experiment with different genres and widen my scope of work.