High notes: Payal Dev gets candid about music, and her dream albums

Singer and composer of phenomenal hits of 2020 ‘Kyon’, ‘Dil Chahte Ho’ ‘Genda Phool’, Payal Dev gets candid with Deblina Munshi about her projects during lockdown, upcoming songs, dream album, and some more in a fun chat. The singer-musician also talks about her consecutive hits, live music sessions on Zoom, little surprises that are on the way for her fans, her career, and her take on the changing music culture in Bollywood.

How has lockdown been for you?
It’s been lucky for me because the work I have done in this period has actually worked well. People loved it. I’m so glad that they are loving the track and I also tried my level best to make it better, so this has been a great lockdown for me.

How do you feel about having such back-to-back hits?
I feel so good actually. I have done good work before but after ‘Tu Hi Aana’ people started recognizing me more than before, then ‘Genda Phool’ took it another level. Then ‘Kyon’, and ‘Baarish’ and now ‘Dil Chahte Ho’ are very close to my heart. I’m just so happy that people are liking it. 

How did you manage to record the songs in lockdown?
‘Dil Chahte Ho’ was recorded a year back – the audio was completely done from my end. We just did some light sessions like the guitar on ‘Dil Chahte Ho’ at the last moment when we got to know it will come out as a single. Bhushan (Kumar) sir had actually kept it for some movie and so when we got to know we had to do everything fast. We did all the sessions by video calls, zoom recordings, and live sessions. It was a great experience for us also. Nowadays, whichever projects we are working on, we conduct the live sessions on Zoom. It is a great experience for all the artists… the other artists are also doing that. Most of the songs I had recorded before and the video as we saw, was shot in the lockdown only. I avoid going out unless necessary. I have a little home studio where everything is done.

“I actually love learning. There are so many things around us. It’s up to us what we pick – the good or the bad. I always try to pick the good things that I don’t have.”

Tell us a little bit about your compositions and what’s next in the line?
Well, I have composed ‘Dil Janiye’, ‘Tum Hi Aana’, ‘Baarish’, ‘Dil Chahte Ho’, and ‘Kyon’ with B Praak. I have many queued up as well. I think these will be released in lockdown as well now that the situation is like this. I’ll announce a great collaboration that is coming up next. It’s a surprise for you all.

You’ve been a singer as well as a composer, which one do you prefer?
I like both because I was only a singer before and as a singer, I have learned from music composers how to sing the lines, what to do, what to add. So many things I have learned from them. So, I love both – composition and singing. I actually love learning. There are so many things around us. It’s up to us what we pick – the good or the bad. I always try to pick the good things that I don’t have. It is my dream to work for other music composers also. It is also my dream as a composer that all the legendary singers will sing my song.

Being a composer is quite a responsibility, at what point in your career were you ready to take that leap?
I was quite happy with my singing career and was doing good as well. I had made my own position in Bollywood but after composing I felt that I should have started much before. But of course, before time you cannot do anything. It all depends on what has been decided by God. It’s been great both as a singer and a composer and I’m trying to fulfill that responsibility all the time.

What’s your opinion about the music culture in India? Labels have become very important. Do you feel there’s any room for an independent artist to rise?
No, it isn’t like that. Other artists doing their own music are also doing good. In India, we can see different genres of music – rock, jazz, romantic, sad, dance. In the 90s, so many artists were independent so it isn’t a new tradition but labels do help an artist grow. It is sometimes important to get on with some label and music labels are also doing so much for the artists in India. Independent artists are also doing great work – some from their own companies, and they all support each other. It feels really great to be here.

Which genre do you like performing most?
All genres. We have to sing different kinds of songs to balance our life as artists because then you know at least you got the chance to sing all the genres. So it’s important for all singers to sing different kinds of songs – be it dance tracks or romantic songs or sad ones. I do feel that in India people like the softer tracks more because they actually work well.

Keeping your career in mind, what do you think the Indian music industry can borrow from the West?
Yes, I like their video concept a lot and also their compositions. The compositions of songs like Despacito, Swalla, are so different. If those kinds of songs come into our country, it’ll be great.

“It (Songs) should be a good composition most importantly. I also choose songs on the basis of which I think may work or not work.”

Do you have a dream album of yours in mind?
Yes, I have something. Now as we see, the Ghazal tradition has faded. In our time, there were so many Ghazals so I want to try in that genre. I have a good collection of ghazals that I have composed and I’m planning to do it. I hope it will be out soon, I’m still working on it. Nowadays, we hardly see people singing Ghazals, so I would like to bring it with a modern touch. I want to do it for myself.

As a singer what appeals to you more – single or film albums?
It should just be a good song regardless of whether it’s from a single or movie. It should be a good composition most importantly. I also choose songs on the basis of which I think may work or not work. I’m really grateful to composers like Vishal-Shekhar who have trusted me for Student Of The Year 2. Even Bajirao Mastani and Kaabil were great. There’s a movie called Ginny Weds Sunny in which I have composed three songs and the first one comes out in my voice itself.

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