By Vandana Bansal/ Sohani Mittal
The ongoing COVID-19 induced pandemic has brought music shoots and launches to a halt. The new normal demands new rules of engagement to be set in the music industry. The need of the hour is to rethink the music business and come out innovatively.
Loudest.in recently interviewed YouTube sensation, Bhuvan Bam, who recently released his music video ‘Heer Ranjha’.
As the melody won hearts on the internet we discussed the making of this superhit song, his take on Indie music, Internet’s influence on music business and more.
Your new song is so beautiful and soulful. The animations and the gradual build up of the story was really captivating. How did you come up with this idea which indeed was great for launching a music video amid lockdown?
Earlier we had plans to shoot ‘Heer Ranjha’ just like other music videos after the lockdown is lifted in Delhi. However, now after certain relaxations shooting might not have been a problem but we didn’t want to risk other people’s lives, so we decided to do something that could be possible at home and which no one has tried before during this lockdown.
So we decided let’s talk to some animators, illustrators and just pull this video off. We sent them the song and discussed the theme. Later they came up with a wonderful idea and we started from scratch. No one had seen anything like this in the past 100 days and we decided let’s put out something that brings a smile. That’s how the music video came along and the entire music video is a lockdown product . I’m glad we did this!
Heer Ranjha is trending #1 on YouTube And indeed is setting the internet on fire! What does it take to keep up with the expectations of your fans and make them love every work of yours?
I think the best way to put it is that I haven’t put any benchmarks on myself ever. That’s just in the audience’s mind, but for me it’s like anything could be possible. Sometimes it could go right or sometimes wrong so it’s better not to keep expectations. You never know what people might like or not. There have been times when people have blatantly discarded one product which I thought was a very good video. So, every time you cannot be sure what might strike an audience. Let’s not think of the next and rather live in the present.
In your latest Instagram video you came forward with a message for your fans about Heer Ranjha and how it’s dedicated to Independent artists. What do you think about the Indie scene in the music industry?
I think people have themselves decided now to experiment with Indie songs. I don’t know if the coming generation will be lucky enough to listen to Mohit Chauhan or Hariharan Ji. It is better to acknowledge the work of independent artists’ as soon as possible because this is the phase when it is possible as we have emerging artists like Prateek Kuhad gaining popularity. Because there is always a phase, earlier we used to have sappy 90s Bollywood songs revolving around similar stories now we have diverse lines of thoughts and the audience is more open to fresh talent.
People recognize you as the YouTube sensation who won hearts with his hilarious vines amid this powerful comedian image. How do you manage to keep your music artist personality alive?
Music is something which I do when I’m done with a comic act. I can’t sit and decide the joke that I’ll write, ironically, it always strikes at the worst of times when it shouldn’t. I remember I was at the cemetery for a relative’s ceremony and there I came up with a hilarious joke. I couldn’t stop laughing and I turned and recorded it on my phone as a voice note and my friends around me were like “Have you gone mad?” So I can come up with a joke anytime and anywhere. But when I’m done with the comic act and I’ve to live in reality because comedy isn’t reality it’s like a dream, so to escape from all this I do music. So, music is my escape!
Internet has offered a huge space and scope for new talent. YouTube specifically has been an egalitarian platform and made unknown faces known. According to you, how has the internet influenced the music business?
I think everyone has realized the power of YouTube. Like 7-8 years ago if I had to make someone listen to my song I had to stand in a long queue for hours and audition in front of people who were least interested in listening to my music.
Before reaching the final jury, there were various levels you had to go through. Imagine standing in a queue since 6 am and by mid afternoon when you finally get the chance you’re exhausted, and by the time you finally perform, the jury is doing everything but not paying attention.
It demoralised me a lot and I decided to never audition again. It’s a scam, not all reality shows you see are done in the right manner. Then YouTube happened, people started saying it won’t make a secure future and that digital artists are not artists. But now we see the biggest music groups on YouTube. This is a revolution, and now YouTube and other social media platforms are an integral part of our lives.
Your music videos receive a lot of love and acceptance and it was with music that you started your YouTube journey. What are your plans about experimenting with music in future? Is there a deliberate direction or would you like it to gradually evolve in whatever direction it finds?
I make the kind of music that I would love listening to. I’ve grown up listening to Euphoria, Strings, Hariharan and so many Indie bands. The interesting fact is; if you listen to these artists now, they seem even more soothing.
Infact, if Euphoria would have released ‘Maeri’ now, even today, it would have been a super hit! So, that used to be the essence of songs and that is the kind of music I would prefer to make. Music, which has a certain emotion and nostalgia attached to it. However, these days the audience just hunts for base lines and drops. My kind of music is the one which gives the vibe of rain and serenity, magically a coffee mug comes in your hand and you are enjoying it by yourself.
How is the lockdown and pandemic period influencing content creation?
Since I make videos at home and also write them at home, I used to think that the lockdown will benefit me the most. However, after 21 days, I realised that I have not posted a music video or even a random episode, because I didn’t get the chance to step outside.
So, it is very important for a creative mind to go outside and socialise, not even socialise; to just go outside and breathe fresh air or to go on a drive to come up with ideas.
In these 100 plus days, I have done only 5 videos including the music video, and people often complain about that to me. And I reply that my brain is not only working, what if I make something and post it on the internet, and it’s not as expected or not as funny. The people would criticise and abuse. And I know the feeling of taking the abuse from 18 million people, because it has happened earlier.
I always believe that if something goes on the internet, it is gonna stay there forever.I don’t want to take my subscribers for granted that if I have to post 2 videos in a month, it has to be done come what may.
People know your content better than you do, because they know what they are going to watch. And I think it will be really unfair on the part of people, if you provide them anything average. We know everyone has gone crazy in this lockdown, so it is better to take time and create the best content in this lockdown.
There is a lot of competition in your space. How do you manage to stay ahead of this competition every time?
You know what I am not here to go ahead of someone. If I have competition around me, I am so happy to be in the middle of the herd because that is how you take everyone along with you. That’s how everyone progresses together.
Staying ahead means you are not looking back, you are just looking ahead. I have to look around myself to see with whom I can talk to, or do work with. It is always best to take people along with you. Because when everyone succeeds together, it is different fun. That’s a different vibe.
I didn’t use to think like this earlier, but now with time and age, you realise that there is so much fun in going ahead together rather than just going ahead blindly without even thinking about anyone else.
You’ve achieved so much, you have won a Filmfare and various titles. So, what is Bhuvan Bam’s aspiration now?
There are so many things ahead which I really don’t want to share because I know that sharing with someone will set an expectation in your own mind.
There are 1000 things which we expect that this will come and it doesn’t happen, and then you’re hurt. So I have stopped keeping expectations from life. I live in the present. I don’t know what I am doing next week. I just know briefly what I am supposed to do tomorrow. And that’s how I work. There are many chaotic plans in future that we’ll see. There are many possibilities but I think I like to be in the present and work accordingly.
What keeps you motivated? And tell us about that one person that you look forward to?
I have stopped admiring people because when you start admiring people and you read or listen to something bad about them, your heart breaks that I admire this person so much and he did like this.
I believe we should run away from the people who compliment us on everything. You should always be friends with people who criticise you. Having the right peer group matters a lot, and I think essentially that keeps you going like you know I have received the criticism, now there’s a scope to improve. If you only listen to praises and compliments, you’ll start thinking of yourself as god. And that’s wrong. It’s always better to hear criticism and no one gives you a bigger criticism than your friends.
You being the top celebrity in terms of YouTube where every other person claims to be your friend. How do you filter out those people who are actually your friends? Are you in contact with any of your college friends?
No, I am not in contact with any of them. We are 5- 6 friends and we have been together since 19- 20 years now, and we meet once a month. A true friend is someone when you guys meet after a long time and doesn’t say, aur bade log. We sit together and just reminisce about our childhood. Even though we have talked about it a thousand times but the beauty of talking about it again is the best part.
Nowadays many brands are looking forward to collaborate with YouTube content creators. So what are the kind of brands that you look forward to?
I look forward to the brands which I would like to use. I’ll preferably not endorse a brand which doesn’t have something to do with my life. For example, I’ll endorse a shampoo brand. I’ll endorse a eyewear brand, hence I am endorsing Lenskart, because I can’t see without spectacles. I’ll endorse a bag-pack brand, hence I am doing Arctic Fox.
I love to listen to the songs and I like producing songs, hence I am endorsing MiVi, which is a homegrown Indian brand. I think it’s important to endorse only those brands about which you talk about. Though you can endorse anything as well, I think I would rather do that as it creates a personal connection.
Watch the interview here: