Though he has been around for twelve years in the music business and has delivered several hits, singer and musician Suryaveer Hooja still feels like a newcomer and feels excited when he is working on a new track. Though music keeps him busy, he manages to make enough time to engage in philanthropic activities. In this interview, he talks about his journey so far and more.
How did you get into music?
My journey in music started when I was in school. My school very encouraging towards music and other extra-curricular activities. Most of the children studying in my school were musically inclined and learnt at least one instrument. KK was from my school. Music directors like Dhruv Dhalla and Raghav Sachar have studied in my school. Loy Mendonsa was a teacher in our school for some time. Most of the students would be composing their songs and recording them on cassettes. I wanted to sing when I was in school but my voice had not become mature enough by then, so I ended up playing keyboards during events and festivals in schools. I also learnt to play the guitar. When I reached college, I decided to do it professionally.
You have been working in the music industry for twelve years now. There are so many musicians and singers today. How does one stand out in such a competitive scenario?
When I started out, it was very difficult. As a newcomer, most people do not give you that one opportunity through which you can hope to prove yourself. But, I think competition is prevalent in every profession. I think you should identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on both of them. Sometimes, we keep working on our strengths but forget about our weaknesses. That is not the right way to go about things. It is also important not to worry about failure while doing something that you love. Regardless of whether a song of mine becomes a hit or not, making music will always give me happiness. I struggled for a long time but I guess, it was important to go through that process, otherwise I would have never reached here.
Do you think the digital boom has helped a lot of musicians to showcase their work?
Definitely! When I started my career in 2007, the digital revolution had not really happened. So, I have been a part of both the pre-digital and the post-digital era. It is imperative for your music to be accepted by the audience and that has not changed. But, what has happened now is every artist has a platform. You can create a track in your home and just upload it on social media. If your music is good, it will definitely reach out to people.
Music is so readily available today. Do you miss the era when one would save money and wait for the CDs or cassettes of a particular film to release?
Well, there are pros and cons to everything. I do miss the analogue days. I used to get limited pocket money as a child. So, I would have to pick and choose between one or two cassettes amongst the several that released every month. That was a great phase but now that music is available so easily, nobody is really complaining.
Apart from releasing songs on your YouTube channel, you have also worked with labels. Is working with a record label restricts you as an artiste in some way?
No, that used to happen earlier but now things have changed. Now, labels also realise that if an artiste is given complete freedom, he will be able to deliver the best possible creative output. I released an album with Universal in 2013. One of the songs was used in the film ‘Prague’ (2013). Another song went to a film which was set in Kashmir. Then, I did singles with T-Series, Venus and Tips. I have worked with mostly all the major labels and it has been a great experience working with each of them.
What would be your advice to an aspiring musician be?
You should be honest about your work. When I am not sure about the quality of a track I produce, I scrap it and start working on creating a fresh track.
You have been involved with a lot of philanthropic work.
I like to do my bit as an individual. Recently, I did a show, the entire proceeds of which went to a charity organisation. I collaborated with artistes and bands like Agnee, Parikrama, Indian Ocean, Hari-Sukhmani on the show. I have done several other charity gigs and fundraiser events.
Would you like to compose for films?
A couple of my songs were used in a bunch of films but yes, I have never really worked on an original film soundtrack. If a good opportunity comes my way, I would love to explore it. I just want my music to reach out to a large audience. I want every track of mine to strike a chord with the listener. I do not think much about the medium. It can happen through films, albums or singles.
What are you doing next?
I am working on a folk song with Shibani Kashyap. Then, there is a single, a cover version of a popular song from the ’90s and a song on friendship.