orangism.com

One of the most thought-provoking artists to emerge onto the scene in the past few years, ShiShi is the Indian-American producer that is infusing his own spiritual journey into the electronic music space. Gearing up to release his full-length studio album, CHRYSALIS, ShiShi’s fourteen track opus dives deep into the human psyche and invites listeners to explore their innermost feelings through the medium of dance. Set to drop on March 4 via own imprint, CASHIR – we caught up with the innovative producer ahead of the release here on Naluda Magazine.

Follow ShiShi @shishimusic

Hi ShiShi! Welcome to Naluda Magazine. Where are we speaking to you from today?

Thanks for having me! I’m in Tulum, Mexico right now.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Playful, sensitive, authentic.

We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry?

My first job out of college was as a marketing assistant at Roc Nation. It was a great introduction to the industry, but I also quickly learned that if I was going to be in the music industry at all, I wanted to do it as an artist. So I started making music on the side, and released my debut EP “Coming To America” in the Spring of 2017. The first song that really took off was my record “Aarti,” which came out in the fall of 2017.

Your new album CHRYSALIS is coming out soon on your own label CASHIR. Can you tell us about this project, how it came about and what it means to you?

The purpose of CHRYSALIS is to explore dark, difficult emotions as a way of transmuting and alchemizing them. This was inspired by my experience working with my own shadows over the last two years.

Obviously the last two years have been difficult for many of us, and in my own personal life I experienced a really intense heartbreak, and it forced me to face a lot of parts of myself that were uncomfortable to look at. I call these “shadows” – parts we would rather deny or project onto others so that we don’t have to look in the mirror and see them in ourselves. Difficult emotions, like shame, fear, anger, or jealousy. Chrysalis and the whole concept of “Shadow Work For The Dancefloor” is about writing songs from the perspective of these emotions, as a way to give them a voice so that they can feel heard, and integrated into the whole. I firmly believe that the more we can give our shadow sides a voice, the less likely they are to creep up and sabotage us in our day-to-day lives. So this project is an attempt at doing that through the medium of dance music.

Oftentimes dance music is consumed in a setting that is celebratory or escapist, and a lot of dance songs tend to be about the same things – partying, sex, falling in love…fun, happy, joyful things. I wanted to explore the darker sides of the human experience, which are just as beautiful and just as necessary for our growth and expansion, through the medium of dance music. Dancing can be such a powerful healing modality – our bodies are so wise and through dance, we can start to listen to them more. So my intention is to move people to introspect through the medium of dance, which is older than language, and also to present a more vulnerable side of me than they’ve ever experienced before. On this album I’m also singing and playing guitar on a lot of the songs, transitioning from just being a DJ/producer into a hybrid electronic/live act.

Which artists and styles inspired and influenced you in your career?

When I first started producing music, I was really influenced by Major Lazer and Diplo. I loved the fact that he was exploring different cultures all over the world and creating music that was inspired by all these different genres and styles. My favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin. I think they’re the greatest rock band ever and I love the cultural variety in their music and how amazing they sound playing any style they try. I grew up playing guitar, so I always looked up to guitarists like Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Slash. When I was a teenager, I always wanted to be in a rock band, but I was really shy, so I ended up just making music alone on my computer, which is what got me into electronic music in the first place.

It feels really good to be coming back to my rock roots and playing guitar and singing on a lot of these new songs, with the experience and confidence I have now that I didn’t have as a teenager.

Who has been the most inspiring person you have worked with?

One of the songs on the new album, “Vanquish,” is a collaboration between me and an insanely talented Persian artist named ASADI. He actually reached out to me about a year ago telling me that he loves my music, and I was excited because I’ve been a huge fan of his for years.

I really love his loyalty to his own unique style, and the speed at which he creates music. He doesn’t seem to overthink things or get stuck in analysis paralysis, and he’s all about minimizing the time between the genesis of the initial idea and the final track. I find that way of working really inspiring, especially in today’s day and age, when it’s so easy to get caught tweaking and perfecting a song for days, weeks, months or even years, and losing that initial spark of excitement. So just seeing how he prioritizes staying in that creative flow is really inspiring to me, and something that I’ve tried to take into my own creative process.

Do you ever get nervous?

I get nervous anytime I do something that I haven’t done before, because I’m stepping into the unknown – but that’s also when I feel the most alive.

Best gig you have ever played?

Terminal 5, NYC, 2019. Every year I write down a list of goals that I want to manifest. And at the beginning of that year, I’d written down that I wanted to play Terminal 5. I didn’t know how, or when I was going to do it, but I just wrote it down and looked at that goal every single day.

At the time, I definitely wasn’t a big enough artist to play there. But miraculously, in September of that year I had an opportunity to headline a festival that was happening there for South Asian diaspora artists. I played to 2,000 people, mostly my own music, and it was the largest crowd I’d ever played to.

Funniest/Crazy thing that ever happened at an event?

At that Terminal 5 show, I played one of my records “Shanti,” which has vocals in three different languages: English, Hindi and Nigerian. I brought Daramola, a Nigerian artist who sings on the track, out as a surprise guest. We had the lyrics of the song playing on the screen behind me, and we stopped the song at one point so that Daramola could teach the words to the audience, which was mainly Indian kids. So it was a Nigerian artist guest appearing on an Indian artist’s show, teaching an almost completely Indian crowd the lyrics to a song in both his native language and their native language. It was a beautiful moment of bridging cultures, which has always been really important to me as an artist.

What is fun and rewarding about what you do? And what’s not?

The most fun and rewarding thing about what I do is that moment of excitement that happens when I’m creating something out of nothing in the studio.

Often this happens when I’m completely alone in my room, just working on music, and suddenly I hear a sound or a beat or a melody, and I just start grooving and getting into that flow state where I become a vessel and the music starts making itself through me.

That’s the moment I live for – that connection to something greater than me – the mystery of how music comes down from the heavens and channels itself through me. It always puts me in a state of total awe and bliss.

It’s also really rewarding to play my music live. Seeing people respond to the music live and sharing that moment with them, especially when it’s something that I worked on for so long alone in my studio, is a really validating moment of connection.

The least fun part about what I do is honestly in my control – it’s when I get caught up in worrying too much about what other artists are doing and comparing myself to them. Social media definitely exacerbates this, and I try to be mindful of how often I’m on Instagram, but I’m a little addicted to it like most of us. Sometimes I can get on there and get into this really unconscious mode of looking at what everybody else is doing and feeling like I’m falling behind, which is so not the point of music.

The whole reason I became an artist is because I wanted to have a career where I can fully be myself, and not try to “compete” with anyone else. Being on social media or over-focusing on the business side of things can make it easy to lose track of the whole reason I started – to make amazing music and share it with the people who love it.

You also host your own events. Can you tell us how this came about, the concept behind them and where are the next events being held?

My record label and collective CASHIR started doing our series of “Full Circle” parties last summer. The concept is to bring a healing intention to dance music.

The parties are usually during the day and are not centered around selling alcohol, which is the typical revenue model for most of the nightlife and live music industry. Instead, we create a very conscious, tailored experience that incorporates dance, music, meditation, and different spiritual traditions from around the world. We want our guests to leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. So far, we’ve done events in New York and Tulum, and we’re planning on expanding to other places in the USA, as well as popular musical destinations like Ibiza, Mykonos, Goa, Bali and Thailand.

What’s your advice for the up and coming artists?

My number one piece of advice is to spend the time to truly get to know yourself, and what makes you unique – and then to double down on those qualities and values. Focus on mastering yourself, focus on mastering your craft, and then trust that everything else will fall into place.

What was the first record that you bought?

My dad bought me Michael Jackson’s ”Bad” on a cassette when I was six years old and my family was living in China. I still remember dancing to it in front of the mirror every day. That’s one of my earliest memories of music.

What’s next for ShiShi in 2022?

After this album, I’ll be releasing a new record every two weeks, and a new episode of my podcast, The Sacred Giggle, every week. I’m also planning a Chrysalis Full Circle Tour in India and eventually all over the world.

I’m also starting a Patreon subscription service for my fans and developing a course for people to connect with their own unique authenticity and creativity, which will be coming out in the spring.

Best advice ever given?

Don’t take advice from people who aren’t where you want to be.

Name one your strengths?

Sensitivity.

Idea of a perfect Sunday?

Wake up, meditate, make music for a few hours, go to the gym, get a nice, healthy lunch on the beach with friends, swim in the ocean and enjoy the sun, play a beachfront DJ set as the sun goes down, have dinner with friends, watch a hilarious movie and fall asleep peacefully.

What is your own definition of happiness?

To fully enjoy the process of being exactly who you are.

Do you support any charities?

I give monthly to the following organizations: Charity Water, which provides clean water around the world, The Humane League, which takes a stand against traditional animal agriculture and the massive amount of animal cruelty and suffering that it causes, The Against Malaria Foundation, which provides malaria nets to areas in need, The American Cancer society, which is working to find cures and healthier treatments for Cancer, and Pratham and The America India Foundation, which both help to educate and lift up underprivileged children in India.

What is your favorite healthy food?

Avocados.

And your favorite cheat food?

Anything with chocolate.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet the Buddha to understand his story from his own firsthand experience – what it was like to be a prince with everything he could humanly wish for, and then to give all of that up to search for a deeper, more sustainable form of peace?

How do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself as a powerful and impactful creator in both the music industry and the health and wellness space. In addition to being a successful world touring artist, I see myself holding in-depth weeklong retreats that combine music with healing modalities, with the goal of helping people rediscover the joy of fully being themselves.

How would you describe your fashion style?

Minimalist. 100% based on comfort.

What do you think of Social Media?

I think it’s a powerful tool to create connections with people from all over the world, grow a brand and grow a fan base. I’m grateful for it. But I also recognize that it’s engineered to incentivize us to stay online for as long as possible, because that’s how social media companies make money. So I think that we need to be mindful that we’re using social media, and not being used by it.

Where we can follow you?

The best place is my mailing list, which you can join at www.shishiworld.com. That’s where you can stay up to date on new music, podcasts, episodes, and anything else that I’m up to.

The second best places are Instagram (@shishimusic) and YouTube (@shishiworld). For music you can follow “ShiShi” wherever you listen to music, and for podcast episodes you can follow “The Sacred Giggle” wherever you listen to podcasts.

Quote: “The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee

Movie: The Truman Show

Travel Destination: Maui, Hawaii

Sports Team: I don’t really watch sports anymore, but growing up, I was a huge Yankees fan. I also loved the Lakers, but mainly because Kobe Bryant was my favorite athlete. RIP.