The internet has made the world a smaller place. Thus when Shirley Setia put up her cover of the Bollywood track Sanam Re on YouTube, not only did it become viral in New Zealand, but the 21-year old also became a sensation in India. Fresh off the success of her single Tu Mil Gaya, the RJ-turned-singer talks about what an incredible journey she is on.
She says that music in New Zealand is mostly a hobby that you’d want to keep alive along with your day job. “There are many talented musicians out there, but due to the lack of resources, it’s difficult to make good content that will always reach out to the world,” she says, adding, “I was a full time student first, and a part time YouTuber and RJ. I joined a Hindi radio station because I wanted a part-time job in a field I enjoyed. I randomly uploaded a video on YouTube after being encouraged and motivated to do so by singer Shreya Ghoshal, and that was the beginning of becoming a YouTuber. Since then, many sleepless nights and tonnes of hardwork has gone into my channel, which in turn has introduced me to so many folks who love and appreciate me. I’m extremely humbled.”
When Sanam Re went viral, it was an overwhelming, and scary, experience for her. “But once I realised the support and love I was receiving from all ends, I thought maybe I should focus on this hobby a little more and keep doing what I love. Hence I started making regular videos, and interacted with my audience more on social media as most of them belonged to India to begin with,” she says.
Talking about her latest song, Tu Mil Gaya, she says, “When the concept of Tu Mil Gaya came into the picture, it was mostly along the lines of going with the flow, and going ahead to do whatever it is you feel like doing in the moment. The keyboardist from my band, Gavin, and his partner Haroon composed on the track, and it was penned down by Kunaal Vermaa.”
She’s been called Bollywood’s ‘next big thing’ after she sang Disco Disco with Benny Dayal, for Sachin-Jigar’s A Gentleman. “It was such an amazing experience for me, as both Jigar and Sachin worked as mentors for me during that song and took me through what they’d like me to do differently,” she says, adding that when it comes to collaborations, the energies of the artists working together must align with each other.
In a time when it is do-able for anyone to upload stuff on the internet and get famous, and there are so many artists doing that, how does she maintain her individuality and stand out among the crowd?
“The most cliche, but real answer to that is to honestly just be yourself. There are so many others out there in the world, why would you want to be anyone else but you? You’re you, and you’re the way that you are for a reason! We should celebrate that individuality and be truly ourselves!” she answers.
Ask her what’s on the cards for 2018, and her eyes light up with excitement. “A lot of events are lined up in the upcoming months. I’ve also worked on something exciting with DJ Chetas and Atif Aslam which should be releasing very soon too,” she shares.
But this apart, Setia is also trying to focus on making original tracks. “I’ve released two originals so far, Koi Shor with Ravi Singhal and Tu Mil Gaya with Gavin & Haroon — and I’m most certainly working on a lot more original music, as I feel that helps me express myself more,” she signs off.