Shannon K is a 16 year old singer who was born in India and moved to London at the age of 6, but not before initially appearing on stage at just 4. Her father, Kumar Sanu, is one of the most decorated and award winning vocalists in Bollywood history. Shannon has studied music from the Royal School of Music, London. At the age of 6, she had the honor to perform a classical Indian dance, Kathak, that she learned growing up at the Bollywood Awards’ night, US. She released her first solo song in May 2014, as well as a full-length album, “Perpetual”, in 2017. She has since worked with Poo Bear, who has written several songs for Justin Bieber and has also collaborated with A-League producer Kyle Townsend.
- When did you start singing and did you have any formal training?
Shannon K: I’ve been into music since what feels like forever but I professionally started singing when I was 12. I received training from the royal music of London while I lived there.
- Did you suffer any kind of pressure from your parents or family, or have they been supportive of your endeavors?
Shannon K: My parents are the most supportive people on this planet, they’ve done nothing but lift me up all my life. They’re believers of tough love. They support me and are there for me but want me to work hard and do things on my own so I’d learn to be independent. I don’t feel pressure from them at all. I feel pressured by my dad’s fans who compare to him despite knowing that I don’t sing in the same language, genre, or style as him and that he’s been an artist for longer than my life so it’s a bit upsetting to see someone say that ‘oh your dads a great singer but you’re nothing like him! You should sing like him!’ like yeah I’d love to but I just didn’t grow up in India so I wouldn’t know. Another would be that, there’s super famous artists out there that do things which aren’t so great and I know I can’t do the things they do and people know that to yet I’m still compared to them. People have to understand that I was raised differently, with different values and morals so there’s things that I can’t do and it has nothing to do with religion it’s just my mind set and my beliefs that come from me.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Shannon K: My dad of course would be the first and strongest musical influence but I grew up listening to artists like Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and other legendary artists who I could find myself in their music. Now I listen to artists such as all of the mentioned above along with Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Selena Gomez who I find very inspiring.
- What do you feel are the key elements people should be getting out of your music and performances?
Shannon K: I think usually when I perform or when I make music, I strive to be simple yet heart touching so I want people to feel the same emotions I do when I sing my songs or just feel the meaning behind each song that I release.
- What do you think separates you from the crowd of young artists and producers emerging right now?
Shannon K: That’s a tough one because obviously there’s artists out there better than me, but I feel like every song of mine is different from the last like there’s variations in melody, production, and lyrics. So I think that would be something that sets me apart.
- Tell us something about your songwriting /music producing processes? Who does what?
Shannon K: I write with my sister Annabel, who is a great songwriter, and we just usually pick up different vibrations that surround us. When a producer hops on the project then both my sister and I try to see how we connect and that’s where we find a beginning.
- How do you handle criticism and who is your biggest critic?
Shannon K: I’m gonna be honest and say that I am not good with handling criticism. Actually when I was younger and I had just released a song, there were a group of people constantly writing hate comments and sending hateful message to me almost every day and I decided to read them one day. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking but the things they said got to me and I self-harmed. I’d like to add that this story would be one inspiration behind one of my recent works “Give me your hand” which is an Anti-bullying song. So I think I’m better now at handling criticism because I don’t let it get to me. Whenever I see a hateful comment or hear something bad then I just tell myself that there is nothing they can say that will change who I am so I shouldn’t break that. I think the biggest critic in my life is me. I always go back and make notes about things I could’ve done or things I could’ve done better. Which to me is healthy. I think we all should always keep moving forward but also know that we’re the only ones allowed to bring change in our lives.
- What would you consider a successful, proud or high point in your career so far?
Shannon K: I think where I am is a big bounce from where I was before so I’d say that my current position would be the highest. But my proudest moment was releasing “give me your hand”. I’m very proud of that because the song itself means a lot to me.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your singing, recording or live performances so far?
Shannon K: Well, there’s this one cool story. When I first met Poo Bear, who produced and wrote “A long Time” my single, we talked and he heard my music and he told me to come to the recording studio later that week and so I went there. At first I thought we were going to work on the song but nope! He played the song for me twice and then told me to hop onto the mic and said that he would sing the lines and I would sing them back. So I did and to be very honest I was shaking so hard when I walked up to the mic because I’d never been in a situation like that before but I think it made me stronger in a way so thanks Poo Bear!!
- What key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your songs, regardless of style or tempo?
Shannon K: My Indian heritage is visible in my songs, and I like to explore that side. Meaningful lyrics always have to be there. Inspirations taken from my past or from close ones.
- What do you feel are you main challenges and goals right now as a sixteen year old female singer?
Shannon K: My main challenges are that I look up to certain artists like Selena Gomez or Beyoncé but the thing is that I don’t get opportunities for me to be in the same category as them. Getting my songs played on a Radio is a challenge for me and sometimes I have to face unnecessary rejection because I’m Indian. I’m told that for certain things they want people of color but not my race and instead the more popular races.
- How much free choice do you personally have in the songs you sing or record, the performances you do, and the way you dress and wear make-up?
Shannon K: Being an independent artist right now, I have all the rights to do everything that concerns me. I write what I want, I wear what I feel, and I perform where I want to.
- Which aspect of being a singer and indie artist excites you most, and which aspect discourages you most?
Shannon K: What encourages me the most is that as I earlier said, I am free to write what I want and do what I want which means I get to represent me. But what discourages me is that there are closed doors everywhere as I mentioned that my songs don’t get played on the radio as much. People don’t pay much attention to you or consider you important because you’re not signed or with an agency. Also, people keep bringing up age. I’m turned away a lot for my age because I’m “too young”.
- What do you think is the best piece of advice anyone has given you about pursuing a career in music so far?
Shannon K: The best advice was given to me by Poo Bear that, “your vocal chords are amazing and you should keep working hard. Your work will get paid off one day. People are not that bad that they would overlook your hard work and talent”.
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Shannon K: My music is a fusion of young Indian music and pop and there’s meaning to each song.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Shannon K: Social media is important and necessary to reach out to your fans and create an awareness about your music. Sometimes it can be tough when people start being hateful but other than that it’s important.
- Tell us something about your latest release and where fans can find it.
Shannon K: My latest release is “Always” written by me and produced by Kyle Townsend. You can check it out on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube!
- What is your relationship with visual media, as far as your music is concerned? Do you think videos are important for your music? Do you have a video you would recommend fans checkout so they can get into what you’re doing?
Shannon K: I think music videos are important because there’s certain things you feel when you make a song that you want your audience to know and so to do that you want to make it easy for them. Visuals only aid that. I’d suggest “A Long Time” and “Give me your hand”, I think they reflect my music a lot.
- As a young and upcoming artist, what are your thoughts on talent shows like American Idol, The Voice, or The X Factor, etc.? Is this something you would consider doing?
Shannon K: It’s great that these talent shows exist and it’s easy and fast to get recognition from being a contestant on shows like this but the speed you get famous at and grow popular, you come down just as fast. Right now I don’t have plans to go on talent shows but maybe in the future.
- What’s on your ‘must do’ agenda for 2019?
Shannon K: I’m gonna write up a few more emotional songs and try and connect with more people through them. I’ll keep pursuing my goal no matter what.
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