Singaporean music producer and composer Arun Shenoy was among the nominees attending the big event, which was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles today.
India-born Shenoy, who came to Singapore back in 2002 and has been a Singapore citizen since 2008, is the first-ever Singaporean to receive a Grammy nomination.
His album “Rumbadoodle” was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album, and he went up against the likes of Chris Botti, Larry Carlton, Dave Koz as well as Gerald Albright and Norman Brown for the award. He lost!
But the road to the Grammys had not been easy for Shenoy, who had to juggle his day job at an investment bank and working on the album, which involved talents from countries like the UK, US, Canada, Pakistan as well as India, and took years to record.
“Running what is almost a full time second job with my music, has me working more than 80 hours a week in total.
“This is hard and does take its toll on my health and overall well-being. I sleep very little as I work late nights on my music every single day. But you got to do what you have to do,” said Shenoy in an e-mail interview, going on to point out that discipline is key if one wants to make it in music.
“Music might be an art, but you need to approach it like a day job, in terms of working on it diligently every day.
“I personally do not believe in waiting for inspiration to strike. I don’t think it really does,” he continued.
“The more songs you keep writing, the higher probability you have to finding hit songs, as compared to sitting back and waiting for inspiration to strike.”
“Most artists I know who are successful, worked really hard for years to then become what is perceived often as an “overnight sensation” once they have a hit song.”
Apart from the long hours, Shenoy revealed that he also had to deal with critics while he labored to complete “Rumbadoodle”.
“You know what they say about critics: Folks who knows the way, but can’t drive to get there.
“I have had my fair share of critics who did not perceive my work in a, should we say, positive light.
“I tend to not let these things bother me as it can easily affect one’s self confidence, which is never a good thing when trying to create something,” said the 34-year-old, before advising aspiring musicians to always stay true to their vision.
“You need to be careful and not let this affect you. At the end of the day, it is your vision that you are working on. Not someone else’s,” said Shenoy.
“And it is only you who will bear the fruits of your labour.”
Filled with hard work and harsh critics, it has indeed been a long road to the Grammys for Shenoy, but he expressed that having good traveling companions was a big help.
“Rumbadoodle”, an album which explores a bold new perspective of the Gypsy Rumba Flamenco, is the product of a collaboration between Shenoy, drummer and mix engineer Jerry Chua, Art Director Roshni Mohapatra and bassist as well as music arranger, Ramil Duke Purisima.
“Putting together a team has always been the hardest part of the job.
“Jerry and Duke have been working with me for many years and we share a nice chemistry where they both understand the feel and direction I want for the music from a production perspective.
“And of course their world class instrumentalist skills to make it happen. Be it Jerry on the drums or his engineering skills, or Duke on the bass or his music arrangement skills,” said Shenoy.
“Together they help me define the all-important groove section for the music.
“Roshni has of course also been a key part on the visual aspects of the music, which is a big part of my musical vision, to give the listener not just an auditory experience, but to complement it with art, color, packaging and video.”
Secrets of his success
Shenoy’s Grammy nomination won’t be the end of his musical journey.
The 34-year-old said he is currently in the midst of putting together another team for his follow-up album, though he will be spending the next few days in Los Angeles, attending the many events leading up to the Grammys.
When asked about the biggest tips he had for aspiring local artistes, Shenoy expressed he believes not blindly following trends, as well as keeping one’s focus on making the best possible music are key ingredients for success.
Perseverance is also vital.
“The road sure is long and full of potholes as artists struggle to grapple not just with the business of music, but the ever changing nature of it in today’s digital age.
“But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and as you take the little steps, you keep picking up so much momentum along the way that it is often hard to slow down,” said Shenoy.
“This is the most beautiful part.”