Britpop Wunderkind Is Ready For The Floor

 
 

With the voice of an angel and soulful brown eyes to match, 20-year-old singer/songwriter Shivum Sharma is poised to become Britpop’s next big thing. So why is he still making music at home? Text Sean Santiago. Photographed & styled by Scandebergs.


How long has it been since you last released music?
My last release came out December 2014, so a year and a bit. At that time I was still forming my own musical identity. I’ve got a lot of songs from that time that I really do like, but where I’m at now, I feel so happy and excited. I moved house recently and have a separate room from my bedroom for recording. Now that I’ve separated my work space from my sleeping space it’s made a world of difference. Because I struggled before with feeling like I wasn’t musically independent enough. I had this sound in my head, things that I wanted to do, but I couldn’t make it myself. If you’re just constantly working with different producers, that can be limiting.

Do you have a band?
When I do live stuff, but it changes around so much. I haven't had a constant string of gigs, I just do bits and bobs and things that really interest me. I work a lot with one of my best friends, Alex Burey, and we’ve sort of moved together from the classroom to where we are now. I’m self-producing now, finally, and it took quite awhile of just being shit. Well, not being shit, but I get frustrated very easily and it took a lot of feeling frustrated and working all day and just getting the littlest bit done. But I pushed through it and now I feel confident and happy. I’m not the best producer at all, but I can represent what I want to do and get across what’s in my head, and that’s helped me so much.

 
 

You’ve done some really great stuff already, though. How did the collaboration with TCTS come about? Do you have a label you work with?
TCTS was with a label, a really fucking cool label actually, Greco-Roman, run by Joe Goddard from Hot Chip, who I love. And he did a remix which I was so excited about. Are they famous in the US? Do you know Hot Chip?

Yeah, of course.
I actually don’t know. But, apart from that, what I’ve put out myself is two EPs and they’ve both been on a label called National Anthem. They’re a singles label, I don’t know if it’s exclusively singles, but it means that they’ll work with you to put out one or two releases to help kickstart you. I think they did the same thing for like, HAIM.

So when you put out new music do you go around and play it?
I’ve got a bookings agent and I’ve done a few gigs around and about. The good thing about the informality of it all is that I can chuck in new music when I want. And I really fucking love it when I do. There’s an amazing music scene in South London in New Cross and Deptford and loads of different events going on there. And there are two amazing music courses that I know of, maybe there are more, at Goldsmiths and Trinity Conservatoire, and because of that it’s so student populated and there’s such a high standard of music at some of these nights that you go to. I’ve played some of these and I’ve really enjoyed them. Partly because the audience is going to be there, it doesn’t need to be super publicized. And it’s for an audience that’s really actually listening. It’s a buzzing place to be.

I’ve got some pretty embarrassing shit in my past, but I don’t want to be separate from that person.

How would you define your sound?
I think there are a lot of people who make a conscious decision like, ‘I am left field, fuck pop.’ But pop is such an interesting term because it’s constantly changing. I don’t see myself getting to number one on the charts at all, but what I find a really exciting challenge—and I don’t like when music is overanalyzed because that takes away from the sentimentality of it—but monitoring trends and seeing what’s popular and working to sneak in some weird shit or to be more experimental is really exciting. And there’s quite a few people that are doing that now. Like, Kelela is one of my favorites. I really fucking rate her. Kali Uchis as well. They’re both fucking incredible songwriters and I’m sure that a lot of people who listen to their music don’t realize quite how great it is. And I think that leaves space for people who do to like it even more.

You Instagrammed a photo of yourself back in like, 2010captioned #nobodyunderstandsme. Were you emo?
I was too young to be emo. Me and my best friend kind of semi-tried to be, but we were just too excitable. Or at least I was, for sure—I was too chirpy, I couldn't keep my cool. I used to wear some weird shit, though. My hair was like a mushroom—like, massive fringe, massive black hair, massive black glasses and my face somewhere hiding in the middle. I’ve had some people come up to me who haven't seen me for years and be like, ‘Whoa, you’ve changed so much’. And I’m sort of like, well, I haven’t, actually. I’ve got some pretty embarrassing shit in my past, but I don’t want to be separate from that person. I love that person. I am that person.

Were you encouraged to sing when you were younger? Has it always been a passion?
It didn’t come from my family, though my dad loves his music and so does my mum. He played a lot of his collection—90’s soul bangers and a lot of reggae. I listen to a lot of the same music now that were some of the first albums I loved, [so] even my taste was kind of imprinted in me at a young age. The Destiny’s Child album Survivor, I think that might have been the first album I had and I adored it, it was on repeat for so long. There was this one song that I loved so much from it and the other day I had it in my head and I was like, I want to find that. It’s called Thank You and it’s like, their outro. Do you know it?

I feel like if I heard it I might recognize it...that album was so huge.
It’s the weirdest production. Really subby, sort of scatty percussion. It’s like R&B from 2040. So good! And I remember being a seven-year-old and being like, ‘Yeeaaaah’. That was a long way of saying I’ve always been singing. And I used to be into a lot more all-around performing when I was younger.

Performing, too?
Yeah, like acting and dancing. I remember I used to always get laughed at at the school disco for dancing like a girl. I’d get a bit carried away and really be proper dancing. And I would be in my living room, I’d just play an album—my earliest memory is my mum’s Salt -N-Pepa tape—and I’d put it on and be like, proper dancing in my living room. And I remember slightly hoping, I had this dream that a scout would walk past and be like, “Hey you, you’re going to be a star.”

Produced on location by Scandebergs. All clothing Chin Mens SS16. Special thank you to Justin Rose and Lee Chuting. "Ready For The Floor" appears in our third issue, available now. Shivum Sharma can be found on Soundcloud and Instagram.