NY-based singer/songwriter Shilpa Narayan is an artist that is one to watch. She has such a powerful voice and is someone who Hollywood stars like Ryan Seacrest and Carson Daly have also been keeping an eye on. She is able to slip into any song style quite seamlessly, and her latest EP “Through The Haze” truly reflects that notion. The EP is available on both iTunes (click here) and Spotify (click here), so be sure to check it out! I had a chance to catch up with Shilpa about her new EP. Read on for our interview for all the insight into Shilpa’s thoughts on the music world, and be sure to continue to support this talented artist!
Roopa: If you could describe your album to listeners in 1 sentence, what would it be?
Shilpa: Sounds of a personal journey.
Roopa: How did you come up with the title “Through Haze”?
Shilpa: For me, music has really been somewhat of a mystery. It’s not something I planned at a young age, and really there’s been this fog around what it takes to make music, and what type of sound I wanted to go for. I’ve always been trying to navigate through this “haze” of a music industry – to really discover my true self as an artist and person.
Roopa: Each track showcases a different side to your vocal talent. What type of music are you drawn to, and what type of music / genre do you enjoy singing most of all?
Shilpa: I love what I call “alternative R&B”. The sounds of The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko, James Blake, Frank Ocean, Banks – those are all artists I’ve been following closely in the past couple of years. I also love the old school stuff like Sam Cooke, Etta James, and Michael Jackson. I basically like contemporary soul.
My favorite music to sing is definitely sounds along those lines. I’m not sure why – but I love singing the more moody songs with a lot of angst. I’m a happy person (I swear!) but something about the emotion I hear in those old Etta James tracks, just gets to me. It’s something which is not as present in today’s music, in my opinion.
Roopa: What made you want to pursue singing and music as a career, and are you happy with your choice?
Shilpa: The weird answer – and I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared this – but I started getting goosebumps while listening to ANY music about 7 years ago. Literally – a commercial, movies with music in the background, anything – I would get goosebumps. 7 years ago I went to get my legs waxed (sorry..little bit TMI), and I was telling the lady doing the waxing that I had to come more often, just because my hair was growing so fast, because of the goosebumps I got like 30 times a day. She told me that it must be “my soul calling out to me”. And after that I decided to take things more seriously and really start singing and playing guitar. I still to this day will get goosebumps during basically any song.
Hair growth put aside, overall I’m ecstatic with the choice to go for music. I felt like something was missing in my life for a long time, and this has really completed me as a person. It’s nice to have a passion, which I know can’t run away or leave me for something prettier. (smiles)
Roopa: “Through Haze” is your second album/EP release after “Stand Alone” (2012). How was your approach to this album different from your debut? What lessons have you learned since the first release?
Shilpa: I think this album is a little more true to me as an artist. When I did Stand Alone, I don’t think I really knew who I was. I was 23 and new to NYC when I first started writing that album, and I really didn’t have much life experience. I was definitely still in a bit of haze (laughs), but I think I hadn’t nailed down my genre of music. This album is a little more streamlined and cohesive. I think it’s 6 tracks that really go well together. There’s a little bit of upbeat pop but also some more soul in my opinion. I learned to be true to what sound I want to make vs. what I think people want/expect to hear.
Roopa: You also write lyrics in addition to singing and playing guitar. What is your usual process for developing a song? That is, do you think of the lyrics first and then music, or vice versa? Do you draw on life experiences for the lyrics?
Shilpa: It’s a combination of both. For some tracks, I’ll come up with the concept, lyrics and melody and then we’ll get a beat created around it, after singing it for producers. That was the case with “Baby Go Home”. For others, I’m sent beats and then me and my co-writer Jordan Garner, will write to them together. For my favorite song from the EP “Behind These Walls” I worked with pianist Nick Stubblefield and cellist Sam Quiggins, to create something completely from scratch. We recorded the entire thing basically in 1 take – because we wanted a really raw, natural sound.
I’m usually better at coming up with melodies and overall concepts, than coming up with specific lyrics – so she’s a huge help on that front. We’ll usually go through several iterations of verses and choruses before we figure out what our favorite combination is. We both definitely draw from real life experiences – there’s a story behind each track on the album.
Roopa: Any other message for your fans?
Shilpa: Just a huge thank you for all of the support the past 5 years! It definitely hasn’t been easy to put out this music, but having even 1 like or message from a supporter, makes everything worth it. Thank you for allowing me to put my voice/life out there and thank you for listening <3