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, is a rapper, dancer and writer who wants to exploit the entertainment industry, by his own telling. 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 G’day India. 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. It feels I am in control of everything. When I am dancing on my own music, it makes it much easier for me to express my feeling, whereas if you are 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 always have the mindset of creating. I want to create something new every day and never stop.
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 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 a complete package.
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.
Do you have a big dream?
My one big dream 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.
Tell us a bit about life in school. What kind of extra-curricular activities to you do?
I am in 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 schoolwork 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.
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. (As told to G’day India)