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Shalmali Kholgade’s New Album Explores Her Different Musical Sides

Singer-turned-songwriter Shalmali Kholgade found inspiration for her new album, 2X Side B, in the daily humdrum of life.

Sayoni Bhaduri

Singer Shalmali Kholgade burst onto the mainstream music scene in 2012 with her award-winning playback for the song Pareshaan from the film Ishaqzaade. With a slew of successes since then, there has been no looking back for the young chartbuster. Some of her most popular songs include Balam Pichkari from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Lat Lag Gayee from Race 2 in 2013. More recently, she was the female voice in Beqaaboo from Gehraiyaan that released earlier this year.

Now, after the success of her playback singing career, Mumbai-based Shalmali Kholgade has recently launched her second independent music album, that too in English—2X Side B. The album is an extension of her lockdown project, and her first album, 2X Side A.

In a previous interview with Zee Zest, Shalmali described lockdown as: “Creatively, it was one of the best periods of my life.” According to her, there is a common thread that sews the two albums together. It is how the pandemic gave Shalmali the motivation to become a songwriter and explore and express a wide range of emotions such as laughter, love, anger and despair through the music albums.  

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Shalmali has partnered with Believe Label & Artist Solutions for 2X Side B. This album contrasts with her first one by placing a greater emphasis on emotions other than love. The music this time is groovy unlike the easy listening tracks on the previous album. “A lot is written on love – it is a universal emotion, and we could never have enough of it. But I guess, I just couldn’t shake off the fact that there’s so much more than just love to write about,” says Shalmali. “This, coupled with the fact that the lockdown acquainted us all with emotions and circumstances that we wouldn’t find ourselves in otherwise – I’ve written about them in the album. This is my life’s best work so far and I can’t wait for the world to get in on it,” she adds, describing the latest album.

Some of the tracks from 2X Side B include We Back, Chills, Garden Variety Hater ft. Vasundhara Vee, Interrupt Me ft. Ranj, Tum Na Mile, Enough Of You, Chalta Hai ft. Vishal Dadlani and HanumanKind, Running and Locomoco.

Edited excerpts of the interview:

1. Why did you choose to produce and sing an independent album in English?

Since the day I decided to pursue music, I have wanted to write, record and perform my own music. I've grown up in Mumbai, and English has been the language of comfort for me; the language that I think in and emote best in. As a result, I always knew at some point in my career I would have to navigate the ship in this direction. I’m beyond happy that I’m finally on my journey as an English singer and songwriter.

2. After a successful playback career, what made you decide to launch an independent album?

Playback singing is a whole different world. When one sings for films, the scope is limited to the vocal rendition of an already written and composed song. My interest has always been in writing and composing, not just singing. With independent music, I get to write and sing about things that are more personal to me. I also get to explore musical sides that I haven’t been able to present in the playback world. It was about time that I went after my dream.

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3. Who was your musical inspiration for the album?

Chills, Interrupt Me, Locomoco, Enough of You, Tum Na Mile—five out of the nine songs in 2X Side B find my husband, Farhan Shaikh, as an inspiration. But there are other songs like Runnin’, Chalta Hai, Garden Variety Hater that are inspired by things around me, the city and the world we live in.

4. How would you describe the album’s musical genre?

I believe overall it’s a pop/RnB or a contemporary RnB album.

5. Why did you choose to work with Believe?

In addition to having a music distribution network that is beyond praise, they were crucial in developing the album's release strategy and provided a ton of creative support to increase the music's exposure. A team with a range of perspectives and opinions is always useful for holding your hand during a release and Believe has been just that.

6. What are your expectations from the album?

I’d like my audience of 10 years now to be acquainted with the songwriter in Shalmali. I’d like for them to get to know me more closely via the music from this album. Every song is an insight into either the person I am or used to be.

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7. What’s next in the pipeline?

I’d like to not think about ‘next’ just yet. I’d like to promote 2X Side B, an album we’ve worked on for over two years, to consume me for the next few months at least. Having said that, I do have a few singles in the pipeline for 2023.

8. Do you think independent albums and singles perform better than they did five years ago?

Independent music in general has seen a greater audience since the pandemic. But as regards releasing singles vs albums goes, I feel like not all songs can have the stature of a single. I belong to the era of albums, and I believe in presenting a body of work together as an album versus what is more rampant in the industry right now — releasing singles. There is undoubtedly a demand for albums as well. The growing audience for independent music is expanding.

Photo: Shalmali Kholgade
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