How did you get into music?
SID: “Initially, it was a hobby for me, and I had gone to the UK to do law. As a hobby, I probably started around the age of six, when I began playing the Tabla. I went to Amritsar with my mother, and she took me to a street where there were loads of music instruments, and I urged her to buy me a tabla because I saw people playing. So I took it to my school, where if you have any musical instrument – they will train you. I learned my basics with my teacher and ended up going to the UK after that for a while. While I was there, I also wanted to get into singing; my mother was also a musician – not professionally, but she did her graduation in music. So music was in our blood. I was competing in a lot of competitions while I was in school and used to sing for fun all the time with my mother. While I was in the UK, the first week itself I went to meet a music producer over there thanks to my cousin. That was my first studio session! The producer asked me to sing in the booth, and at that time I sang ‘Tum Hi Ho’ from Aashique 2 and recorded over the song and asked them to share the recording with me as well. The very next day, my cousin got a call that they wanted to record an album with me. They told me that they would produce the album for me, but I need to write my songs.”
“I sat down, writing and realized that this is something I wanted to do and not pursue law. So in the first week itself, I left my Law College and joined an audio engineering course in Manchester and was studying there for three years. I wanted to take control of my music production as well, and hence I went for it. While I was there, I started performing and opening for artists like Zack Night, Juggy D and Rishi Rich. After that, I decided to come back to India because this is where the B-town is and for the first year I did a lot of club shows and performed in colleges. Then I met Rishi sir where I joined him at Art Konnect and was employed. I was playing here and there, and then last year I started working on this track of mine called ‘Haan Karni’ where I took six months to write the lyrics, produce the record, mix and master it as well, and it was a lot of hard work but a lot of fun. We did the music video for it as well, and T-series was excited to get me on board for the release after they saw the video.”
What was the thought behind ‘Haan Karni’?
SID: “Well, the song was initially named wine and 69 because I saw it as someone’s Instagram bio and I felt that is something I could write about. It is very quirky and a naughty and a very catchy line. I just wanted to write on it and related to me and my nature. So the chorus still has wine and 69, but the name of track has changed.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
SID: “Firstly, the biggest challenge for me was writing my lyrics. It was something that took time and practice, and I’m better for it. The other problem was the REACH! I think for any independent artist, reach is a big problem and to tackle, you need a good team, and luckily I had one. Before I had the team, I was cold-calling and pretended to be my manager and I would tell them ‘I have this artist called Sid K, would you like to book him for your event? He’s an artist from the UK’ and so on… Then ask them to book me for the gigs as a third person. Every time was changing my name to XYZ, so they don’t recognize me or block me or something.”
What do you think is currently missing in the Industry or something the country needs to improve on?
SID: “I think we all know that every artist has a shelf life. But before that, some labels have a lot of funding and they have started buying slots on the radio. So the platform that was available for independent artists has now been taken. So they have dedicated time slots that are no longer available for artists. And that has led to people and companies approaching me saying that we will get your song trending and get you in Top-5 or Top-10, which is extremely weird. Thankfully T-series was great with me and supported me throughout and pushed this song as much as possible from their sub-label Apna Punjab that has 19 million subscribers on YouTube.”
Any problem that you are facing in the live performance sector? Something that needs work on?
SID: “I think it is all about the performance and how well you can put your craft forward in front of the audience. So you get shows from the earlier shows. If they like your performance, then 5 out of 10 people will approach you for doing shows. But it is not all about money. I recently did a show for an NGO for animals, because I love animals. And I did a free of cost show for the fundraiser, and I ended up getting four appearances out of it. Either you’re getting paid, or you’re getting opportunities that are paying you. I think artists, in general, should not look at just costs but also the opportunity costs. If you’re not getting paid, then it’s your show – you have the creative freedom to do anything you like. I have worked with a lot of corporate companies and a lot of brands as well, and for that, you get a proper brief for what you can or cannot do. IF they want Hindi, or Punjabi, or English music you have to deliver that. I know money is essential, but you have to be smart about when and where you should ask for it.”
How do you feel about the current crop of artists in your genre and do you think you have any competition in that area?
SID: “Of course, there are some great artists! I cannot be cocky and say that I’m the best out there. There are plenty of artists going out there who are doing justice to their work. I might be the worst artist according to people, but it is all about how you put it across. I’m more of an entertainer and a performer and not just a playback singer. I produce and mix-master as well. I’m a bit of a control freak that way and like to control the quality of the song and don’t trust anyone else with it. If I don’t like my work, I’ll dump it.”
Are you looking to work with other labels as well? Like Azadi or IncInk Records or other Major Labels?
SID: “I’m currently looking to work with the labels that will promote the Indi-Pop Labels. All these labels are focusing on one genre aspect only. That way I’m like a middle-class person who is sort in the middle. My musicality ranges from Sonu Nigam to G-Eazy. Even for my performance at IMS 2019, I did a Mohd. Rafi tribute, which is vastly different from the kind of music I make in general. Like I said, at the end of the day, I’m an entertainer and a performer. I want to be as true to my culture as possible and not differentiate genres. I don’t want to kill the soul, but want to bring freshness on the table.”
“When I perform old songs, I’m not remixing the tracks, but I’m bringing it to light in my way in my texture. I have a vision board at home where I have attached things what all I want to achieve at the end of the day. The book – The Secret inspired me. And two years ago I had attached the T-Series logo right in the centre of it, and I attained that goal. It was something even my dad wanted before he passed. He was always the happiest to see me perform and loved my tracks. Also, this track he saw in the making, but couldn’t see it released, and it is his blessings that have got me here so far. I also have a cheque that I have added to the vision board worth 50 lakhs that I have signed myself, something I want to achieve too. So hopefully I can attain that also one day.”
What do you feel about labels taking such a big chunk of the artist’s share from the revenues?
SID: “It is more like paying GST! It’s like a tax that you have to pay. Of course, they are not going to invest in you till you show promise and till you can hone your craft well enough for you to be taken seriously and less effort. So it is fine by me and something I don’t ponder over.”