Vikas Shirsat is a Mumbai based independent musician. He was 17 when he first picked up an instrument to learn. He started learning Guitar by myself. Exploring more instruments he found unique folk instruments like a didgeridoo, Morchang (new harp), kalimba, Ravanhatta, duller, etc. very fascinating. This search for learning new and unique instruments led me to learn around 25 instruments in a decade. Today, he is an independent singer-songwriter, music producer, and multi-instrumentalist.
Here is Vikas Shirsat in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) When did your journey as a musician begin?
Music has been in my life since the very beginning. Since my childhood, music made me curious and transformed me to another dimension. But it was at 17 when I picked up my first instrument, which was guitar and started learning it by myself. I remember the feeling of learning and figuring the instrument on my own. That feeling was what drove me to learn many more instruments later. But I dint think of music as a career then. But in college, I participated in some music fest and college music competitions for the fun of it and won a few accolades and trophies. It was then I started thinking of music as my career.
As soon as I graduated, learnt music production and started my journey. I remember telling my parents about my choice of career while in college and they not only agreed but also supported me wholeheartedly. They dint understand music but they understood their son and saw his happiness when he is engrossed in music. I am what I am today is because of them and their belief in me. I am forever grateful to them for everything.
2) Which was your first song?
‘Yun Sada’. I had composed it in 2013 and released it in 2016. Its a simple romantic ballad and recieved a lot of appreciation and love from everyone who heard it. Unfortunately though, it’s not on YouTube now.
My favourite lines from the song are “Milta tu mujhko main jaau wahi… Chalta hazaro mein akela sahi”
3) Which has been your most favourite genre?
Music to me defies boundaries so confining it to genres doesn’t seem right. I sit, feel and vibe with whatever the song demands. Just listening and figuring things out on my own and not having conventional learning methods is perhaps the reason why I pick up on new genres and instruments very quickly. I do adhere to the rules and laws of music but just as a bouncing board and communication language to create something completely new.
If you ask me what kind of genre I like to listen to. I’d say I enjoy Bhojpuri, Khandeshi folk, Ghazal to post-Prog rock/ avant-garde metal & electronics/ LoFi to chiptune literally EVERYTHING! It would be easier to ask which genre I don’t like. The answer is none!
4) How do you manage investment for your music production?
Ah, literally the million-dollar question for every independent artist like myself. See, the fact of the matter is you need to hustle and grind with whatever you have and whatever it takes. And if you are smart about it, you’ll Roger through. So in my early days, I used to save from my income as a guitar instructor, cut short on luxuries and produce songs. Now being a music producer myself, I produce songs with my friend Devin Mock. Apart from this, collaborations are very important in this industry especially for independent artists like us. I have been blessed with musician friends who have agreed to collaborate with me without charging. And that’s why the only cost for our song till date has been for the recording studio. It’s this collaborative culture in our indie scene is what I love and live for.
5) Who has been your inspiration?
In my personal life, my elder brother and my friends have been my inspiration behind lots of thing I do. If you ask my inspirations for music. The list is quite long right from Asha Bhosle Ji to A R Rahman sir I have lots of influences to name a few S D Burman, M M Keeravani, Illayaraja, Madan Mohan, Salil Chowdhury, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Ravindra Jain, Amit Trivedi and so many underground indie artists. Some international artists, Beatles, Coldplay, Steven Wilson, Pink Floyd, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson.
But Lucky Ali has been the reason why I chose to pursue music as a career. I always found his music peaceful and enlightening.
6) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I see myself doing a lot of collaborations with established Indian indie artists as well as underground artists. Also looking forward to being amongst the top indie artists in the country. My goal is to collaborate, learn, create and keep experimenting with sounds and genres.
7) Tell us about your latest track.
My latest song is called ‘Aazadi Bachpan’. it is a protest poetry. The protest is against child labour. It’s a demand for the freedom of their innocence, their right to education, healthcare and wellbeing. I feel every child should have these fundamental and quite frankly basic human rights from political, civil, social, economic to cultural right. Which is why it seemed appropriate to be released on Independence day. The genre is an experimental mix of country, folk, freestyle and some bits of pop sub-genres like pop-rock, indie-pop.
Using music to awaken, change and enlighten has always been my goal, and ‘Aazadi Bachpan’ is my first humble attempt at doing the same. I am looking forward to making more such meaningful music.
8) What all instruments have you played & which one is did you find most interesting?
From unique folk instruments like Didgeridoo, Morchang (jew harp), Kalimba, Ravanhatta, Duller, singing bow, Kazoo, traditional duff etc. I find exploring and learning music instruments very fascinating. This search for learning new and unique instruments led me to learn around 25 instruments in a decade. Out of those instruments I found Didgeridoo very interesting. It is Australian tribal instrument. Right now I’m learning and practising a circular breathing technique on it. I hope I get it soon.
9) How was life in quarantine?
It was quite productive for me. Before lockdown, I was quite caught up with my guitar classes so couldn’t focus on developing my programming skills. Lockdown gave me a chance to focus on this.
I also produced a track during this time. It’s called ‘Fernweh’. The inspiration came from the lockdown situation. And how many of us are longing for travel and exploring the world now more than ever? So it seemed relevant to produce something about it. Link is here
Also, I’ve finished writing 4-5 originals which I’ll be releasing in coming years.
So ya life in quarantine was quite productive for me in that sense.
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