With feet firmly on ground singer Shriram Iyer is trying to rise from the crowd of music artists in Bollywood today. The truth isn’t past him. He says he knows he is not a Mika Singh or Arijit. His ultimate dream? To earn moolah from Bollywood, because paapi pet ka sawaal hai, then produce his own music. With 15 years of Classical music (both Hindustani and Carnatic) training in music, Shriram complaints about the non-existence of an ‘industry’ to represent musicians in India. Although, he has nothing against Bollywood, it bothers him that its music is the only art form in music that’s popular. Not one to leave things grey, Shriram made matters white and black with bluntness, and sometimes at the risk of being politically incorrect.
Don’t want to stereotype or anything, but Iyers families usually produce doctors and engineers. Are you the black sheep of the family or did your parents support your choice?
Oh, no. There was a lot of shout and brawl when I told my parents about pursuing music full-time. I am a Commerce graduate. I’ve worked in the software industry, then went into construction. But, nothing could keep me away from music. I did face resistance, but all that’s in the past now. My parents see that this field also has money. As long as my future is secured, they are not worried.
Tell us about your rock opera stint with Lillete Dubey…
This is about years back! Shankar Mahadevan mentioned my name to Lillete and I was called to be the narrator of sorts. The play was on Mahabharata, in rock opera style. It was called Jaya. Since Mahabharata is vast, the plot was leaped through songs. I used to sing those.
Your latest cover of ‘Bolna’ has received 20,000 views in 2 months. That’s quite a number! Do you think YouTube will help artists like you and the upcoming ones?
YouTube’s organic reach hasn’t really taken off in India. Unless you do collaborations featuring famous artists, it doesn’t work. My latest is a cover, but I am not very keen on producing covers on my YouTube page. If I put some content there, ideally it should be my originals. And those won’t work, unless I have a great video or a celebrity. But, YouTube is good in a way because singers in Bollywood get stereotyped. I I hung out with Mika Singh recently and he sang some amazing tunes that you’ll never hear him sing for public. So, if an artist wants to produce something on his/her own, apart from the run-fo-the-mill music created, one can put it there. Music directors have actually started noticing artists on YouTube. So, that’s a good thing.
Are you planning to release an original on YouTube anytime soon?
Yes, my original single with Harshdeep Kaur will come out soon. But, it won’t be released on my channel. See, for my song to work, I need an audience base. ‘Strumm Sound’, a YouTube channel has quite an impressive reach in the social space. So, the song will be released on that channel. I’d like to collaborate with Shankar Tucker. He has a huge fan base on social media.
Who are the international artists you’d like to collaborate with?
(laughs) Well, for popularity and reach I’d love to collab with Chris Martin. But, if you ask my personal choice then I’d love to make music with John McLaughlin and Zaki Hussain.
You’re a jury member on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa now. Tell us about it. Also, what’s your favourite medium – television, playback or live concerts?
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa has been going good. There’s a lot of visibility in television. I mean, you could sing a 50 hit songs, but if you the audience doesn’t see you on TV, you’re almost nothing. Honestly, I took this up for visibility. Plus TV pays good too! But, the perk of working for this show is that I get to hang out with a lot of talented artists. But, my favourite will always remain live concerts. The instant reaction, the energy and interaction is tremendous. I’ve performed across the globe and it’s the most fulfilling thing for a singer.