Siddharth Slathia: The geek who took to the guitar #coverstars | brunch$feature | Hindustan Times
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Siddharth Slathia: The geek who took to the guitar #coverstars

The engineering student from Jammu is singing his way to people’s hearts

brunch Updated: Sep 05, 2017 15:34 IST
Ananya Ghosh
Siddharth Slathia is an engineering student. (Siddharth wears jeans and T-shirt from Zara)
Siddharth Slathia is an engineering student. (Siddharth wears jeans and T-shirt from Zara)(Shivangi Kulkarni)

3 Idiots changed his life. It was after watching the movie that Siddharth Slathia, who today has almost 390K subscribers on his YouTube channel, decided to finally give up engineering and follow his true calling…music. “I was studying BTech at a college in Jaipur at that time, I left it, came back to Jammu, enrolled in a graduation course in Music at the Jammu University and also started learning classical music,” says the 25-year-old Jammu boy.

Once back home, he created a small setup where he could record his covers in his free time and upload them on YouTube. He joined the content sharing website in 2011. But it was becoming difficult to get the right people to programme and edit the songs in Jammu. So, he slowly learnt to do them at home as well. And when he shifted to Mumbai last year in June, he bought a small recording setup. Today he programmes, records, edit, shoots his songs in the lobby of his house. Apart from singing covers of popular Bollywood songs, he also does tutorial videos of Bollywood as well as classical songs on YouTube. Having taught at the Sa Re Ga Ma Music Academy in Kolkata for a few years, teaching comes naturally to him.

He points out that although it is easy to connect with the audience by doing cover versions of songs that are already popular; it comes with its own challenges. “Singing covers is more difficult than doing your own song, where the audience has no other reference point. When you take up a song of legendary singers like a Mohd Rafi or a Kishore Kumar, you have to meet the expectations of their fans; else they will tear you apart. You cannot fool around. You have to be perfect in your rendition,” says the singer who intends to write and compose his own songs someday and hopes his followers will support the venture when the time comes.

But, the challenges are not limited to just meeting the audience’s expectations. The life of a youtube singer is not that easy, especially if you plan to make it on your own. “If you think it is just about singing, recording and editing, let me tell you, it is not. It is way more complicated than that,” cautions Siddharth.

“My first proper gig was at Korba, Chhattisgarh. The organisers duped the artists and took all the money and absconded. There were police complaints and we faced a lot of harassment. For two days I had to go without any food. Coming from a small town I had no idea about how to deal with such situations. Also, I didn’t know anybody in the industry. I was just a singer recording songs from my home setup. But that taught me one thing and that is: This is not going to be easy. And I braced myself for the journey,” recalls the singer.

Around a year back, he again found himself in another challenging situation. Only this time it was much more serious. Something that got him detained at the Hong Kong airport. “I got an invitation to perform at a concert in Hong Kong. It was my first trip abroad and coming from a small-town middleclass family it was a huge deal. Moreover, it was a work trip. I was going abroad on my own merit. I was ecstatic; it felt as if I have finally arrived in life! But the joy was short-lived. The organisers had told me not to mention to the Hong Kong authorities that I was there for a concert as that required special permissions. Hong Kong has visa on arrival. There, like I fool I told the officials that I was there on holiday, and it was a 1 day-trip and the first ever stamp on my passport. Of course they got suspicious. They kept questioning me. I was baffled and nervous and also had a language barrier, so at the end of the day they detained me, and a day later, deported me. They put me on the same flight that I was supposed after the concert. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was going on. I was shattered. As I sat waiting for the flight, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. A guy at the airport café recognized me and asked what has happened. On hearing my story he just laughed and said: Don’t worry, last time Honey Singh also had a similar experience! “

It is sitting all alone at the airport that day that he realized how challenging this is actually going to be. A few months back he again went to Hong Kong. This time he opened for Salman Khan’s Dabangg Tour. He is learning the ropes, slowly but surely. He has already recorded a couple of songs for various upcoming films but refuses to elaborate on them. The soft spoken singer wants to let his songs do the talking.

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