DUTCH SINGER SHARR SINGH MIXES THINGS UP WITH HER UNIQUE URBAN-PUNJABI SOUND
by ASJAD NAZIR
THE number of female artists in the male-dominated Punjabi music industry has been steadily increasing in the past few years with a new wave of terrific talents including singer Sharr Singh.
The exciting newcomer from Holland grew up listening to diverse music and is now using those influences to make a mark in urban-Punjabi music. After finding her way in the industry, she officially started her career in music last year with her acclaimed singles Turn Up and Just For You.
Sharr has big plans for the future and is looking forward to releasing more songs in 2018. Eastern Eye caught up with the rising star to talk about music, inspirations, future plans and more…
When did you first get connected to music?
I grew up with music. I really got connected to it as a little girl when I used to sing along. A lot of times I felt the urge to change songs. (Laughs) I began writing lyrics of English songs or at least what I thought English was. I recently looked at old notepads full of misspellings and saw I tried mixing verses together in some kind of way.
For example, I wrote verses of I Believe I Can Fly mixed with Kevin Lyttle’s song Last Drop. Looking back, I don’t know what was going through my mind mixing two different kinds of songs together, but it was the start of my connection to music.
Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Growing up in an Indian/Surinam household, my parents used to listen to a lot of Bollywood music, especially Adnan Sami and Udit Narayan. On the otherhand, my elder brothers were the exact opposite and listened mostly to rap/hip-hop and r’n’b. I got the best of both worlds, which maybe explains the variety of genres I now listen to.
Was it difficult to find a place for your music in Holland?
Although there isn’t really an urban Asian scene in the Netherlands, it wasn’t very difficult to find the people to compose the tracks because I have a different sound. I’m glad people don’t know this kind of music here. They will just compose it in the way I want without knowing what the actual Punjabi music should sound like. The difficult part for me was to find the right and trustful people.
How did you feel recording your first song?
Like anybody, I was a bit nervous but I actually felt at home in the studio as this was the moment I was waiting for. First I had to adjust and didn’t know how my vocals would sound, but they weren’t that bad. (Laughs) Even without auto-tune!
After a few test takes, I knew what my vocals sounded like and was more comfortable singing through the mic. You can hear every little detail, so if you’re nervous it affects your vocals. So it’s important to be comfortable. Now I’m very comfortable and immediately correct myself if I hear a vocal went wrong.
How do you look back on your short journey in the music industry?
My journey is indeed short, but I love the adventure of every challenging project and have had quite a few in a short time. I did my first international video shoot, which was a new experience, and one I enjoyed very much.
After my release Turn Up, I went to the UK for three live bookings and had a blast on the stage. The British have more energy than Dutch people. I’m already busy with my next tracks. I’ve been recording and shooting videos. The support I’m getting so far is amazing and people are slowly acknowledging my music.
What has been your high point?
I think it was shooting my two music videos at beautiful sunny locations in southern Europe. It was fun working with various fashion/make-up looks I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far, with my own team and without a record label.
What made you connect with the British music industry?
I listened to Bollywood/Punjabi music growing up and specifically connected with this industry to bring songs out for a new generation. As soon as I graduated from my BBA I decided to create it. As I said, the urban Asian industry isn’t alive in the Netherlands and the kind of music I make belongs in this UK industry.
Looking ahead, what is the masterplan?
I’m creating new opportunities and working hard so people will acknowledge my music. I’m taking risks with my next releases because it has a whole different sound to what people are used to in this industry. They will either support it or they won’t.
Which of your unreleased songs are you most excited about?
All upcoming projects I’ve planned for 2018. Their sound is very different from the previous two tracks as these were more an introduction. Taking a risk with these two projects makes it exciting for me. I love to take calculated risks that could push my career forward.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I would absolutely love to collaborate with Inna. Although she was born in Romania, her music is also influenced by other cultures. She can sing in all kind of languages and steals hearts from millions of people. I think most know her for dance music with great influences from around the globe.
Is India on the radar for you?
India is on the radar in the long-term, but the most important thing for me is to first push my style and the kind of music I want to introduce in this industry. I have a lot of supporters from India, so it would definitely be interesting to introduce my style there.
What inspires you?
Things I see and experience inspire me! I can watch a movie or observe something outside and ideas start running through my mind.
The video concept of my next release was actually inspired by food and a supermarket, which sounds kind of weird. Sometimes when I’m driving or going out with friends I stop to take pictures to look at them later and write down concepts.
What are your big passions away from music?
My other passion is dancing. When I was a little girl, my parents took me to a bharatanatyam school and insisted I take weekly classes. I never really loved that type of dance as a little girl, but had to go.
By the age of nine, I decided to be honest and let them know I didn’t like it but wanted to continue dancing. When I was around 12-years-old, I took street dance/hip-hop lessons and felt more comfortable. My parents weren’t too excited about that, but they were happy I could put my energy in a hobby.
If you could learn an instrument, which would it be?
I think the piano or the violin because their sound has a high influence on the emotions. The sound of these instruments can either be romantic or dark, so you can compose a lot of different tracks with them.
If you could ask any singer living or dead a question, who would it be and what would you ask?
Lady Gaga has always interested me because I don’t only see her as a musician, but also as someone who is very artistic. The combination of applying art into her music and video concepts is really unique. I would ask what inspired her and how she got the support from people to understand her concepts.
What music dominates your own playlist?
I listen to various genres with different languages. I listen to Albanese music, but also Armenian too for instance. My top genres include trap and reggae (dancehall), but also Bollywood. There is a lot of variety.
What is the one thing that everyone visiting Holland should do?
(Laughs) The one thing that immediately crosses my mind is eating, and particularly stroopwafels. I think it’s called syrup waffles if you translate it. If I’m travelling, I always want to try out different kinds of foods because who doesn’t love food, right? I can’t name one person who doesn’t love eating syrup waffles.
How much does performing live mean to you?
I think a real artist must know how to perform live when necessary, but I think entertainment is more important and that is what I try to bring. You need to be able to adapt to the crowd you are in front of, whether it is getting the crowd hyped or showing off your vocal range in a different setting. I have performed live in Holland and the UK, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Are you keeping a new year’s resolution?
I don’t believe in them. If you want to do something, you can take action anytime you want and there’s not need to wait until a new year.
What is the most epic thing you have planned for 2018?
I’m working on my ideas and want to release my tracks. There isn’t any specific epic thing planned. It’s also in my character that I don’t always have the patience to wait for things I want to do. If I have it in my mind, I want to do it right away. Not only music-related, but in life too.
Why do you love music?
I think everybody loves music without having a specific reason for it. It can motivate you to achieve a specific goal. Music influences my mood in different ways and that’s mainly why I love it.
I remember listening to Chinese/Japanese Zen instrumentals when I had deadlines for university. It can be used as a motivation to finish different kind of tasks. With music, you can also influence people and send out a message. Life would be boring without music and it gets me motivated.