A pop diva who sings bhajans, now that is a rarity! Shivali is a singer from London whose music is not very easy to come by. Shivali has made a name for herself by singing traditional Indian bhajans with her unique R&B style. Her first album was the Bhajan Project. She is now coming with her second album named 'Urban Temple'. Shivali believes that religion is all about being true to yourself and that is the essence of her bhajans. Boldsky caught up with Shivali to discuss her fascination for bhajans, her musical mantra and the essence of religion in her life.
What was your first project as a singer?
My first project was the song 'Prabhu ji' on the Bhajan Project. From the very beginning, I loved reciting bhajans and my producer who is also my friend helped me in it.
When did you start signing bhajans?
My grandparents saw me reciting shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita when I was 4-years-old, the Hanuman Chalisa and dhuns came after. Bhajans in their full propensity came to me when I was 15.
Do you consider yourself to be a religious person?
For me being religious means being on the path to understand your true nature. I don't think by just following the do's and don'ts of any religion can make you religious. Being religious should be a part of your every day personality. It should be reflected in the way you treat other people.
How do you blend Indian classical bhajans with pop and R&B music beats?
According to me, you just have to understand and feel the music. I grew up listening R&B, hip-hop music and they are very familiar to me. So, its all about blending the two correctly.
Bhajans are supposed to be soulful? How do you preserve the essence of a bhajan with the pop music?
My music is more R&B. And all music is soulful as long as the music takes you on a journey. The way I preserve the essence of a bhajan is by bringing my own essence to it. By being truthful in the way I sing and in believing in what I say.
Did you study music? If yes, then what kind of music did you study?
I learned to play the piano. It was only after which I had English vocal training which you can always detect in my voice and now I am practicing under a Hindustani vocal trainer. Along with that, I am also learning to play the guitar.
You are blending Indian notes with Western influences. Do you think the Indian youth will identify you?
I very often get messages from Italians, French, Dutch. And I believe if they can identify and relate with my bhajans then the Indian youth also can. I created music that I can be identified with.
Who are your influences in music? What kind of music do you prefer to listen to?
I love all kinds of music and Lauryn Hill is my biggest influence. She is a great soulful singer and her production is very quirky, artistic and real. I love Anoushkar Shankar, Vikram Hazra, and Nitin Sawhney. I listen to every kind of music. But, bhajans are the first thing that I listen every morning. I have kept different kind of music for my every activity.
What would you say to your audiences about your album?
Both my albums are my personal creation. Through them I want people to relate with their inner self and through God. I hope all my listeners can re-connect through my music.