When 29-year-old Shiv Vaishnav started taking music as a serious career three years ago, he didn’t think that he would be working with Oscar-winning music director A.R. Rahman on a single for legendary director Mani Ratnam’s Tamil blockbuster “Chekka Chivantha Vaanam.”
Born and brought up in New York City, the Indian American was highly interested in hip-hop since he was about 8-years-old, and was influenced by the lyrics of Bollywood songs from the 1970s.
“My parents always listen to those songs. I would always have them translate the lyrics for me and I fell in love with the depth and meaning of them, which is what influenced me to write my own,” Shiv told Desi Talk.
For the last 30 to 40 years, Shiv’s mom has been running a dance company under a non-profit, his dad is one of the organizers for all of the big Bollywood concerts that happen in the country and his sister is a fashion designer, “so from the beginning my family was already on the creative side.”
It was from one of these concerts that his family became friends with A.R. Rahman, who saw a potential music director in Shiv and asked him to collaborate with him for the single “Hayati,” with Lebanese-American singer Mayssa Karaa.
The video released on YouTube on September 26 and has collected more than three million views while it rapidly climbs up into the iTunes Top 10 list in various countries, according to a press release.
Shiv is being coached by A.R. Rahman for the past 10 years and though he loved working with him, he said it would be a dream come true if he ever got the chance to work with the music director duo Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani (Vishal- Shekhar), who have been known for bringing the hip-hop music genre into Bollywood in the 2000s, before Yo Yo Honey Singh and Badshah took over.
When asked what his favorite era of music is, Shiv told Desi Talk “definitely the late 1990’s, early 2000s,” adding how he is a huge fan of A.R. Rahman’s work during that time, in films like “Bombay,” “Roja,” “Dil Se” and “Lagaan.”
He also mentioned that his favorite singer is Sukhwinder Singh and called his voice “gravel and pure beauty.”
Shiv said he loves listening to old songs as well, especially those sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.
But when it comes to today’s music, he showed some concern.
“I feel like we have lost the value of making music,” he said, pointing out to the various songs from the 1990s that are being re-created left and right. “I do however, like the idea of creating a new version of something old. If there is a song out there that you like so much then it is important that when re-creating it, you make it your own while leaving the essence of the original.”
Other than Bollywood music, Shiv told Desi Talk how important it is now to mix the Eastern beats with the Western ones, in a way to appeal to more ethnicities.
“America is known as the ‘melting pot’ and if we are exactly like the people here then we should infuse the Western music into our roots. We must make the necessary attempts to keep our music alive by globalizing it. We should not forget who we are and where we come from,” Shiv told Desi Talk.
In the past three years, Shiv has been performing at open-mic nights throughout the city and has been the opening performance at the Urban Desi nights concerts, all while working with other music directors in Los Angeles.
In the past year and a half, he has independently released four albums as a lyricist and artist on music platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud and more, as he works on short projects every three to six months.
According to a press release, Shiv is known for his melodic hooks, harmonies and intricate lyrical content as he delivers a variety of tones with a unique signature sound and creates a unified message of good intentions and easy living.
For the first time, Shiv performed at the popular Deepavali Festival at South Street Seaport hosted by the Association of Indian Americans – New York chapter (AIA-NY) this year on Sunday, October 7.
One day, the Clinical Data Manager desires to be the solo music director for a Bollywood film.