“Without music, life would be a mistake” — Friedrich Nietzsche.
Everybody likes music, if I am not wrong. Music and mood are closely linked; say, when I am happy I usually listen to “You Rock My World”, when upset “Der Lagi Lekin”, and when romantic it would be “Wish You Were Here”. My addiction to music is like my love for desserts; I cannot think of a single day without it. Right from stepping out from my home for work in the morning to midnight, I’m listening to music — be it Assamese, English, Hindi or Bengali.
Today, as part of our interview series, I would like to give you an insight into multi-talented musician Ssameer’s life. A playback singer, songwriter, composer, live performer and fantastic guitarist, Ssameer is a known face in the music industry.
Ssameer started very young; to be precise at the age of 16. “Soniye! Soniye”, one of his masterpieces was received as a love-anthem of today’s youth. His debut number “Saiyyaan” is claimed to be the first-ever Punjabi rock song. Do not be surprised when I say that his “Ankhiyaan Nu Rehen De” track touched the hearts of more than 7 million fans!
Over the years, Ssameer has also mastered the art of being an exceptional music producer and has had collaborated with some of the big names in the industry. His ‘Kai Po Chhe’ track that was a part of the Kai Po Chhe campaign launched in Gujarat, received immense appreciation and applauds from his fans, and marked the beginning of his long-term association with the Gujarat government.
And yet again, Ssameer with his song “Ahoy-Hello-Namaste”, composed specially to mark the eve of the International Fleet Review – 2016, won hearts of 10,000 people present at the venue, including President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narender Modi.
In a tête-à-tête with the musician, I got to know about his inspirations, genres he loves, upcoming works, cherished moments, and more.
- When did the music stint happen? Were you always into singing since childhood? Any anecdotes to share?
It was during my college days, I really wanted to be into music. I was interested in singing but did not know much about it neither did I excel in it. I picked up guitar as my main instrument and started rehearsing. When the time came to choose professional career, I did not want to get into a job like situation. I started playing sessions as a guitar player in studios, followed by music direction and music arrangements. I also played with quite a few bands as a guitar player. Then I thought of creating my own sound and also got serious about my singing. From there on there has been no looking back.
- You’re a singer-music producer with an accreditation from Trinity School of Music, London. That’s quite a lot of talent. How do see your journey so far?
Being educated in music does help a lot in composing and producing music when I compare myself to other musicians who are not well educated in music. It gives me a broader approach; helps me understand different moods and recreate them more easily in less time. But that’s not all, what’s more important is the experience too while working on songs. Having done more than 1,000 jingles (ads, commercials, corporate theme songs, background scores etc.) gave me quite a decent experience to make any form of music at each. At least that’s how I feel.
- You chose Punjabi music as your forte. Why? Music genres you love?
The genre of music that I follow is pop, soft-rock and acoustic. I did start my first album in Punjabi language because of the love of the language. And the style of lyrics that I chose was kind of Hindi-Punjabi that could be understood by any regular Indian listener. I have also sung quite a few songs for Bollywood and my independent songs in Hindi and Urdu. Talking about language “Kai Po Chhe”, a song on kite flying is in Gujarati. “Ahoy-Hello-Namaste” the theme song for IFR 2016 was in English and Hindi mix. Few of my songs also include Persian and Arabic.
- The recent live launch performance of your latest song – ‘Ahoy-Hello-Namaste’, composed specially to mark the eve of the International Fleet Review – 2016, has received excellent responses. Would you like to share about the performance in brief?
It was 5th of February, 2016, an amazing experience with over 11,000 audiences all across the world from 50 countries at the opening ceremony. I had to open the show with the official theme song composed and sung by me and that was the most prestigious moment so far. Bollywood celebrity Akshay Kumar and Kangana Ranaut was also present there, who later joined me in singing the theme song. I was felicitated by the governor of Telengana for making the official theme song. On the very next day, I also performed the same theme song with the Naval Band at the Presidential Concert where our Hon’ble President and Prime Minister were present.
- Define your style of music? Do the lyrics have any link to your personal life experiences?
I generally like to sing soulful songs. The lyrics may or may not have link to my life experience. Some songs do have connect to personal life experiences and some are fictional. It’s like an imagination. Even though it could be a fiction but somewhere down I do relate to it else I may not be able to give justice to the song. I kind of live my song in my dreams.
- Your life has traversed the country, where do you feel you belong now? How do you identify yourself? Share with us your journey so far.
I am an Indian who belongs to India. I like different cultures in India and would like to get associated to them in some way or the other. Not only that, I even like to interact with musicians from different countries and share knowledge. My musical journey to Russia was one such where people from various parts of the world were showcasing their music and I happened to interact with them. That was quite an experience.
- How do you keep the energy and focus on in this chaotic world?
The idea is to be focussed and not to get carried away by the fads. Where the rest of the world follows the fad, I just like to believe in myself and do the music that my soul tells me to do. Meditation and yoga does help me in attaining this.
- Share with us about your early passions and influences.
During my school and college days, I used to listen to lot of rock music such as Deep Purple, GnR, Led Zeppelin followed by pop music by artists such as Michael Jackson, George Michael, Madonna etc. However, years into listening to more of Indian music by RD Burman and AR Rahman. But when it comes to influences, I have tried not to get influenced by any of these artists; rather I tried to create music from within what my instinct tells me to do.
- What kind of themes your music is based on?
It’s mostly soulful. Most of the songs that I have sung or produced are romantic in essence. But I have also lent my voice for songs meant for causes. “Kai Po Chhe”, a Hindi-Gujarati song is about “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” and “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan”. “Ahoy Hello Namaste”, which was the theme song for IFR 2016, is about uniting the navy of whole world as one.
- Your personal favourite song from all your works?
This is quite a difficult question. When I make my songs I put in all my heart and soul. It’s very difficult to say which one is your favourite. It’s like choosing your favourite child [giggles]. But since you asked the question, I would say “Soniye” is my all-time favourite. Other than it, “Saawari” and “Ishq Khudaya” are extremely special to me, however, these two are yet to be released.
- Share with us about your upcoming projects.
I did the music for the movie “Badichowdi” which would be releasing shortly. Apart from this, I have been recording quite a few songs which are again to be released. One of the immediate releases is the cover version of the song “Main Rahun Ya Na Rahun”.
- Your most cherished moments?
I have already mentioned about the IFR song and the performance. I also remember one of my performances in Russia in front of 5000 people who didn’t understand either Hindi or English but what connected me with them was my music.
- What do you like most about your profession?
I like everything about my profession because it’s like every day I am speaking my heart out.
- What do you have to say about studio recording versus live performance?
I enjoy studio recording because I get time to think, to put in my best part. I get to choose between my takes. It’s more like a learning experience of showcasing yourself. But what I lack here is the interaction with audience and the energy which I get from live performances. I would not like to choose just one but yes I would like to spend 75 per cent time performing live and 25 per cent recording at studios. Both are equally important like chicken and the egg.
- Message to your fans.
This one is for all the musicians. .I would advise them to go believe in their music, work on their skills, and most importantly not to rush things because that will get them demotivated. There’re times, people give up early thinking things would not work out. But I would say, any good thing takes time; hence, making a career in music might also take time. All one needs to do is keep doing what they are doing and the result would definitely come.