I don’t want to box myself into a genre, but my comfort zone is Bollywood: Singer Sid Philar

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

Among the various indie singers, Sid Philar's musical Karwaan stands out for his carnatic training background and attention to minute details of music and sound. A Bollywood retro love who gre up listening to the iconic songs, Sid debuted in the world of indie music with his single, Karwaan. He is also a tabla player, who played at the popular Sydney Opera House in 2015, and sang with the team led by his musical guru, Dr Rose Muralikrishnan at the Carnegie Hall in 2014. His digital live shows in India during the lockdown gathered huge funds for the underprivileged. In an exclusive interview with Music Beat, Sid Philar talks about his debut song, musical environment in California and how tabla and Carnatic music has strengthened his musical foundation.

Watch 'Karwaan' here

Let’s talk about your debut indie single ‘Karwaan’ and the experience of working on it amid corona pandemic

I’ve got to say the audio part of Karwaan it was really a breeze considering I worked with an amazing studio team.

What were the challenges you faced while working on your very first single?

The only challenge I felt initially was around the video part but ended up being not much of a hassle when I teamed up with the right individuals.

Are you happy with the response received?

I’m stoked by the response received from my fans and well-wishers. I’m extremely self-critical, but I’ve been really happy with every aspect of the song starting from the meaningful lyrics, all the way to the video editing.

When did your musical journey start? Did you always want to become a singer?

My musical journey began during my early formative years when my mother identified my interest and vocal skills. I still remember participating in random music competitions and winning prizes and that flame was always alive, despite some lull period due to focus on academics or career later on life.

What’s your key genre? Are you open to experimentation?

I don’t want to box myself into a genre, but I think my comfort zone is Bollywood and anything melodious.

Have you taken classical training in singing?

Yes, I plan to continue learning but, Carnatic training has had the biggest impact on my singing. I think every aspiring singer needs structured training to strengthen the foundation unless he or she is a prodigy.

Having stayed in California, what difference do you see in the music-making and singing there when compared to India?

I may be biased, but I always felt people here in California / US are a lot more open-minded and accepting. Another benefit here is you have a much more sophisticated infrastructure relative to sound and equipment.

You have also learnt tabla. Do you play it professionally too?

Learning Tabla and the concept of beats has had a huge impact on my musical foundation, which is very critical for a singer. I’ve always wanted to take Tabla to the next level, but life has its own ways. One thing I was very happy was that I had once in a lifetime opportunity to play the Tabla at Sydney, Opera House in 2015 along with my music school.

Tell us more about your performances at Opera Hall, Sydney and Carnegie Hall in NYC. How different is the audience response there when compared to here in India?

Yeah, so I was under the tutelage of my music guru Dr Rose Muralikrishnan who’s a musical genius based in LA. We were invited to perform at the Carnegie Hall in 2014 as a group, as a part of the Global Music competition, where I sang with the group. We won the Gold there and were then invited to participate at the Sydney, Opera House. My teacher knew I played the Tabla and asked me if was open to accompany the group as a Tabla player, which I gladly accepted. It was such an enriching experience to perform at these globally renowned prestigious venues. The ambience and the acoustics of these locations is something I can never describe in words! I will forever remember the experience.

What kind of music do you like?

I personally enjoy listening to and performing retro Bollywood songs. They make me nostalgic and let me escape reality as they bring back a lot of childhood memories of my parents listening to those songs day in and day out.

You make a lot of covers of Bollywood songs. How do you choose these songs?

As a musician one of the most critical aspects of singing is - am I reaching the audience? Are they feeling what I’m feeling? I’ve learned over a period of time that the audience enjoys any song or performance ONLY if you as a performer are enjoying. The artist needs to develop that confidence and doesn’t come easy. It never works when you’re just trying to please the audience; it works for some time but fades away quickly.

Besides, you also performed a few live shows for the underprivileged in India. What led to this idea of gathering funds for those in need?

I’ve always had the philanthropist in me and I strongly believe in Karma. I gained a whole lot of traction as a singer while I was doing non-profit work raising funds for underprivileged kids back home. So, I will always continue to do it because I know deep down it’s the blessings of these kids that’s brought me this far.

What kind of music do you perform on these live shows that were a hit in India?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, if you’re truly enjoying while you’re performing, the crowd will literally love any song you sing, for the most part. But, if you still me on this question, older classic songs are always a hit!

Which NGOs, organisations are benefiting from your shows?

I’ve worked closely with two non-profit organizations; primarily with Vibha and CRY.

What are your upcoming projects?

With a full-time job on hand, I use my time judiciously and make sure I use it productively. I definitely want to churn out originals periodically and definitely covers to keep the audience and well-wishers engaged.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Doing more originals and maybe lend my voice for movie industries, be it Bollywood, Tollywood or Sandalwood!

Playback singing or indie music, what’s going to be your key focus?

I’m fortunate and blessed to have the luxury to continue focusing on both Playback and Indie. I want to keep my options open.

Any favourite singer, music composer with whom you wish you collaborate?

I’d love to work with anyone who sees value in my talent and skills. I have a few favourites, but when it comes to working, I see everyone through the same lens. #SidPhilar, #singer, #indiesinger, #Karwaan, #California, #tablaplayer, #carnaticmusic #music, #debutsingle, #debut, #indie, #SydneyOperaKouse, #CarneigeHall, #NYC, #song, #songcovers

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