At the age of 15, Shivaan Bahl has a few memorable events that stand out tall in his memory. For instance, performing with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan in Melbourne in 2017 in front of a huge home audience was a “big and happy moment”. He says that experience expanded his range from small to big. With his stage name as Shivi B, Shivaan is a rapper, dancer and writer who wants to explore the entertainment industry. Having been performing on stage since the age of seven, Shivaan has his sights firmly set on making a mark on anything related to music. He shows ample maturity as he speaks with The Indian Weekly. Excerpts
What does it feel like to be a 15-year old?
Obviously, age is just a number but I find it advantageous to be 15 because it gives me an advantage of knowing what my goals and aspirations are in life. It gives me time and no pressure because I know what my dreams are and it gives me more time to fulfil them.
You write songs and sing them as well. What got you started?
I started dancing at the age of seven. Obviously, Bollywood music is all part of our dance and culture and I grew to love music overall. My parents often put me on the stage and I learnt to match my dance steps to music. As I grew up and got older, I developed a big interest for hip hop and R&B music. That led me to make music and exploit my creative side.
Are you more of a singer, a writer or a dancer?
I see it this way: I am trying to combine all of them together. My ultimate goal is to entertain. I want to be a singer and a dancer at the same time, I would not want to separate the two, but I want to be able to dance on my own music. Writing is also a big part of making music, so writing and singing all comes into one.
How is it performing on a song that you wrote straight from the heart?
It feels amazing, first of all. It feels I am in control of everything. You have no lack of confidence because everything you are saying comes from the heart and is true. When I am dancing on my own music, it makes it much easier for me to express my feeling, whereas if you performing on someone else’s song you wouldn’t have that same type of control and expression.
Where does your ideas and inspiration come from? Do you follow any formulas?
I don’t follow any formula to create my ideas and make more music. It just comes to me naturally. So, during the daytime or at any random time, say, when I am going for a walk or a bike ride or even sometimes when I am asleep, ideas pop up in my mind. I guess, it is just the creative mindset that I keep, I always have the mindset of creating. I want to create something new every day and never stop. I want to keep expressing myself with these new ideas.
How do you plan to improve your crafts of writing, singing and dancing?
In order to improve my crafts on stage and when I am recording in the studio, I reckon I should take singing lessons and learn everything about music as much as I possibly can. Information is very accessible these days, I can do my own research and learn everything I need to know. That way I can develop my craft. In order to perform in front of thousands of people, I need to outwork thousands of people in my own style, by my own self. I need to be able to perform at the same standard when I am by myself, so practice plays a big part in that. And, practising consistently.
Do you get stage fright?
It is very normal to get stage fright for everyone in general, it is extremely normal to be nervous. I have been performing since I was seven years old, so it doesn’t frighten me too much. But the idea of performing on stage gives me a bit of pressure and I feel the need to do my best.
Do you have a favourite singer?
I listen to every possible genre, every possible artiste and take inspiration from everyone. But my main inspiration, ever since I was a kid, is Michael Jackson. He is known for his singing and dancing, he is a whole package. So, I realised that Michael Jackson is someone that I should follow in order to do the best that I could possibly do.
What genre do you follow?
At the moment, it is based around hip hop and R&B, but I have come to slowly love Punjabi music which is very popular. There are many types of Punjabi music but if I have to incorporate my own style into Punjabi music it will be hip hop. So, I feel Punjabi movie is the genre I am aiming towards but I want to put my own twist to it.
What do you plan to become later in life? Or do you have a big dream?
Everyone has that one big dream. They have goals, and that’s amazing. My one big dream, my aspiration in life is to be able to entertain and spread positivity through my music. I want to tour around the world and connect with people for the rest of my life. So becoming an international artiste and just being able to fulfil my dreams is a big goal.
What keeps you grounded?
I surround myself with people who have the same amount of hunger that I have. They want to achieve big things in life and I realise that those people around me keep me grounded. That includes my family and friends.
How do you handle criticism?
I handle it by not taking it personally. I take it towards my craft. At the end of the day, I want to do the best that I can. So, any criticism – good or bad – I will take it as a way to learn and become better. Getting people’s opinion is important but taking criticism too seriously is bad for you. It can affect the way you create because creating music and dance all comes from the heart. So its challenging if someone challenges what you are trying to express.
Tell us a bit about life in school. What kind of extra-curricular activities to you do?
I am year 10 and I enjoy extra-curricular activities. It is a great way to socialise and keep learning things every day. I am just finding it as a way to get more inspiration. Going to school every day is a great way to get new ideas, make new friends, and every day is a new opportunity to do something. It is also a bit of a struggle to balance school work with my music. I used to play a bit of sports but now I am focussing all my time towards developing my craft, that includes going to the studio, practising and performing at places.
How is your relationship with social media?
I find social media very powerful especially with the new generation. I find it a motivation and I use it as an actual skill to extend my reach in terms of music to many more people than I can reach in real life. I use social media as an asset or a tool to promote my music and make the most of what I can. The criticism on social media is also very important to know what people actually want. You can’t go up to every person in real life and tell them everything about yourself. So social media is a very good way to express yourself without having to explain yourself, it is self-explanatory.
Do you have support from your parents/family/friends in terms of what you like to do?
They are all very supportive of what I do. That includes motivating me, giving me constructive criticism, love and everything I need to become successful in a music career. Some artistes grow up without the support of their family, which is very challenging but either way, I think I can overcome anything that comes on the way and just chase my dreams.
Any message to aspiring young talent of Australia?
I have a few words: follow your dreams. If you find something that you love and identify something that you want to do in your life and are happy with, that’s something that you should put your focus on. And one thing that I keep in mind always is: chase happiness not money. Happiness is a big part of being successful, success is not a measurement of how much money you have. I realised that happiness is an important asset to have. Whatever goals you have set your mind on, your end goal should be achieving happiness.
(As told to The Indian Weekly)