I Almost Fainted When I Came To Know That Badtameez Dil Had Ranbir And Deepika In It!
She definitely knows to set the stage on fire with her mesmerizing voice. Be it playback or live concerts, SHEFALI ALVAREZ rules the charts, and, how! From Subhahonenade to Partyonmymind, TuMera Hero and OGujariya, her songs have become party anthems. Read on to know this fabulous songstresses views on life, work, career, concerts and more…
How did you get your first break in Bollywood?
I have been professionally singing with my father Joe Alvares since I was about 15 and I also had my own rock band in college. My first commercial song was actually a Telugu number for Sandeep Chowta called Mama mia from the film Salem. This is where I met Sunny MD, who was working with Sandeep Chowta and a couple of months later, Sunny called me and I got my first break through him while he was working with Pritam dada. They were looking for western sounding voices and I got a call and I thought that I should try it out. My first song was Yeh dil hai nakhrewala from Madhur Bhandarkar’s Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. I’m really happy to have met Sunny who’s been instrumental in putting my voice out there. And it has surely been a fabulous ride so far!
What has been your constant source of motivation?
Music is my motivation - the effect of music on a person’s mind is tremendous. In the ancient times the Egyptians used sound waves as a form of healing. Music can heal, touch your heart, open up your emotions and make you incredibly happy. The fact that I enjoy singing and being on stage and so the effect of my music on the audience has been my motivation. I love what I do and I want to keep on doing it forever.
You have worked with some of the most notable music composers, could you please share your experience.
I have worked a lot with Pritam dada which has been a constant source of learning and fun. He has such amazing ideas that it’s a pleasure to sing for him. He is constantly pushing boundaries and changing the sound of Bollywood music. I have worked with VishalShekhar on a song called Gulaabi aankhen which was in Student Of The Year and that was exciting. We reworked the song in a full on western Hip hop feel, which was amazing to sing. Adding a few more names to the list, I’ve also worked with Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya and sung for Sachin-Jigar. All of them are such wonderful people with so many new ideas and all in all, this has been so much learning for me!
Which is your most favourite music genre?
I can’t pick just one! My favorite genres of music are Electronic, Jazz, Pop and blues, and Sufi music.
How has your musical journey been so far?
My musical journey began at three and I’m 34 now. I’d say it’s been 30 incredible years of beautiful sounds. Hailing from a musical family as a three year old, I was exposed to rock bands rehearsing in my house that’s when my fascination for singing began. As this early exposure to music progressed, I sang for a few children’s albums and some jingles with the legendary Louis Banks. I also had the opportunity to train under Celia Lobo for about nine years in western music. With these years of initial training and opportunities I was part of an all-girl rock band and also sang in my dad’s jazz band as a female vocalist. In college I had my own rock band and we performed at various clubs and venues all over the country and that was when I was in my early twenties. This is when Bollywood music and producers started exploring western sounds and fusion and my singing got noticed and I got my first break.
Share a memorable anecdote about a star or a story behind any of your songs.
This song Badtameez dil which I sang with Benny Dayal, when I found out that Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone were in it, I almost fainted! I love Ranbir!
If not a singer, what would Shefali Alvarez be?
I love what I do and want to keep on doing it forever.”
An artist or a chef. When I’m not singing, I’m either drawing as a hobby or cooking for my family and friends. My art is inspired by my fascination of the Mayan culture and various indigenous art forms of people across the globe. And as a
cook, I love baking, so a large part of the menu of our Jungle Lodge consists of deserts which have been curated by me.
Competition in the music industry is growing day by day. What are your thoughts on that?
I guess there is competition in every thing one does. I really feel that you have to keep doing what you love and enjoy it and keep getting better at it. You have to find your niche in whatever you do, that’s what differentiates your voice from others.
You have sung for many wellknown faces in Bollywood, with whom was your best experience?
I loved singing O Gujaria from Queen for Kangana Ranaut and it is also one of my most favorite songs. Oh, also Subha hone na de, which I sang with Mika Singh for Desi Boyz.
...Because musicians work behind the screen, they don’t get as much appreciation as stars, what are your thoughts on that?
Well, the audience is growing and changing and I think that they understand what a huge part music has to play in films. And that music directors create these songs to which we lend our voices. Each industry has its dynamics and this is how Bollywood is, where the singers and musicians are playbacks and the stars and actors are focused on playing their part. I feel that there is immense recognition of talented directors, composers, musicians and vocalists and we get to showcase our talent live on the stage.
Which is the song that you’ve sung that is the closest to your heart?
It’s Mohabbat buri bimari from Bombay Velvet.
What is your take on the actors who are trying their hands in singing? Isn’t that giving rise to some tough competition?
I think we have such a humongous market that there is space for everyone. Ab the question is that can one actually sing or are they just becoming puppets in a studio with the numerous voice modulation tools? But on the flip side, some of the actors sing pretty well.
What do you enjoy more - concerts or playback singing?
I love the stage and live concerts. I love the energy of the people and I think I was born for this. Live shows are definitely more rewarding because we sing in our own avatar and get recognized directly for our talent and skills.
What, according to you, is the best and the worst part about the music industry?
The best part of the music industry are the musicians without whom we cannot create the sounds we want. Like for me, my band is a huge part of my music world, they create the music to which I sing. I don’t know about the worst part but the corporatization of music is maybe the worst part. Music is so pure that it can transcend everything.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m actually happy being me a woman, mother, singer, daughter, sister and a wife. I don’t think I want to change anything. Life is love.
The corporatization of music is maybe the worst part of the music industry.”
Do you follow a regime to maintain the flexibility of your vocal chords?
I just sing all the time to my daughter Alizeh I guess keep exercising one’s vocals chords is the trick. I do a few vocal exercises and breathing techniques which really help.
What is your biggest strength and weakness?
My biggest strength I think is my ability to maintain a balance between being a mommy and a performer, and my weakness is chocolate I think.
Which is your personal fave song that you’ve sung?
I think all of them have been special. All my songs are so different but Aam hindustani, Shut up and Mohabbat buri bimari from Bombay Velvet are my favorites because they’re so Jazz. And I’ve grown up learning and singing western jazz. I also love Subha hone na de which I sang with Mika Singh I didn’t realise the potential of the song it completely shocked me when it became a rage.
You’re married to Aly Rashid. How easy or tough has it been to balance your personal and professional life?
It is both easy and tough. But I have an absolutely brilliant partner who is so supportive of everything that I do. We live in a forest in Madhya Pradesh at Reni Pani jungle lodge so it’s a trek for me each time when I go for work. But I love my life, we are a growing family and I think it’s important to maintain a balance between career and family. We have a daughter and we’re on our way to becoming parents again so sometimes we choose life over career and other times career over life. Maintaining a balance is the key.
You have to find your niche in whatever you do, that’s what differenciates your voice from others.”