Culture, Events — December 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

GRAMMY® Award nomination for Singapore’s Arun Shenoy


The news broke last week: for the first time ever, a Singapore artist has been nominated at the GRAMMY® Awards. You might not be familiar with his name – Arun Shenoy is more a shadowy creative figure than a showman, and he doesn’t stick to a specific music genre only. Songwriter, musician, producer, arranger, owner of Arun Shenoy Music Publishing, his life revolves around music. Originating from Bangalore, India, Arun Shenoy moved to Singapore to pursue a Master’s Degree in Computation Audio – and finally settled there. He released his first solo production Rumbadoodle in 2012, an album recorded over many years across the globe, which entered the GRAMMY®’s lists. Music Weekly got to know Arun Shenoy better while chatting with him about his achievements, projects and views on the music market in Asia.

Music Weekly: First of all, congratulations for your GRAMMY® Awards nomination in the category of best pop instrumental! This is the first time that a Singaporean is nominated. How did you receive the news? And what do you expect from this experience?

Arun Shenoy: I received the news from a good friend in the US who informed me a few minutes after it happened. My reaction was quite mixed actually… I was delighted, grateful and also humbled by this incredible honor. This is the Mecca of recorded music we are talking about after all, and it does not get any bigger than this. If you look at the other 4 nominees in my category, between them they appear to have something like 35 nominations and around 5 wins! I am hopeful that this recognition for my work will encourage more Singapore artists to aspire for recognition on a global stage. Very often, things like this seem out of reach, but once someone proves otherwise, like I did, I believe it opens all kinds of doors and that is the most beautiful part. Artists’ aspirations grow to accommodate this new found realization of the possibilities they now see around them.

You describe your music as World Fusion. How do you see yourself in the contemporary Singapore music scene?

Well. In the industry, I am known as a composer and producer foremost. So I am not a very public figure, preferring to be the creative guy behind the scenes. This was my first solo production under my own name (and not for any other artist/band). I work in all styles of music. The last record I did for American rockers Tanadra was hard rock, this current one is flamenco inspired world fusion, the next one is Indian inspired world fusion, but I am also dabbling in electronica and dance music. I had also put together a rock band last year in Singapore called “Sage” with the intent of getting back into the public performance space, but for various reasons it did not work out and we eventually disbanded. Being rather reclusive by nature, I am not really a part of what you would call the contemporary Singapore music scene. I work with a lot of people in Singapore yes, but not really a part of the scene as we know it.

Tell us more about Arun Shenoy Music Publishing Inc. and why you set up the company.

Well. There is the music and there is the business of music. The whole Independent Music wave comes with its own share of positives and pitfalls too. Yes, artists have total creative control of their music, but it also means that they to take total control of the business of their music. Copyright administration, royalty, music licensing, not to mention all kinds of music-legal paperwork. Arun Shenoy Music Publishing is a firm I set up in Singapore to manage the commercial interests of my music. I intend to expand it eventually to manage the rights of other artists and bands I work with, but for the present, I really have my hands full with my own work as you can probably tell.

What are your current and upcoming projects?

Currently, I am very busy with a follow up record for Rumbadoodle. As I had mentioned earlier, it is a world fusion record as well, that goes back deep into my Indian cultural roots. Should be interesting and let’s see how it turns out. This is something that I had been planning for like, ever, but only now I am getting a better idea of the musical aesthetic I want from a production perspective. So let’s see what I can come up with. Slated release in sometime in the summer of 2013. I have a few other projects in the pipeline, like a collaboration with legendary American Jazz producer, Matthew Shell on his new record and a few others.

In your opinion, what are the stakes for the music industry in Southeast Asia these coming years?

Well, if you look at it from a Global perspective, the music industry has always been largely focused in the US markets. That is where all the movers and shakers hail from, and the US for a large part dictates the trends that the rest of the world follows. Europe, most significantly UK too, but to a much smaller extent. Of course, the Asian music scene is also well established, but here we are looking at stuff like Bollywood, Canto-Pop, K-Pop, J-Pop that are more regional and do not have the same kind of Global and cross-border appeal. Maybe Gangnam Style is one exception here. I am hopeful that a lot of Asian artists will slowly make their mark on a more Global stage, and more importantly, preserve a strong Asian identity in their branding. Like me for instance, the industry in the US knows me by and large as the guy from Singapore. That is also how I brand myself. That sense of pride is very important if you need to stay true to your roots, is what I believe in.