Composer-singer Salim Merchant had a tough pandemic, not because he wasn’t making music, but because he couldn’t venture out freely to shoot music videos for the singles he created along with brother, Sulaiman Merchant. Since the duo, Salim-Sulaiman, didn’t have any gigs during the last two years of the pandemic, they utilised the time to fulfil their long-pending dream of making independent music under their own label. “Every song was a reflection of our emotions. This phase gave us the time to complete the tracks that were lying unfinished with me for a long time. Working on the singles became like a nasha for me, and every week I’d create a new song,” says Salim, who turned 47 yesterday.
After completing the singles, the duo utilised every unlock opportunity to shoot the videos. “The only challenge was to film the videos, because of the restrictions that Covid-19 brought along,” says Salim, as he goes on to highlight another area of concern. “Budget was a worry, as we funded the singles ourselves. During the lockdown, we didn’t know when we would perform next and where our revenue stream would come from. But there was a saving and we decided to go for it. There was a sense of satisfaction and liberation when we spent that money for shooting the music videos,” says Salim.
Ask the Chak De! India (2007) composer if working on independent music felt any different from film music, and Salim says, “Sulaiman and I have been making independent music since 2013, and I never felt any difference between film and non-film music, because even for movies, we made very indie kind of songs. For instance, Ainvayi Ainvayi (Band Baaja Baaraat; 2010) has such an indie vibe.”
While many artistes crib about the monotony that the pandemic brought along, for Salim, it was a different story. Calling it a learning phase, he shares, “The fact that the pandemic went on for so long gave us the time to make more music. It empowered us that way. I learnt the importance of being consistent, pushing myself to a creative world, disconnecting myself from watching any movies or shows and crating music.”