Dreaming Big: Zaeden
They say if you work relentlessly to make your dreams and passion come to life, then no force in the world can stop you from achieving what you desire. That’s just what happened to Sahil Sharma, the sensational DJ we all know as Zaeden. From mixing tapes of famous bands in his home to sharing the stage with some of the biggest international artists, this guy has come a long way. He speaks to us about his inspiration and what helps him move forward every day. Edited excerpts…
We couldn’t start this without asking, how did you come up with your stage name, Zaeden?
I was pretty convinced that I was never going to use my given name on stage. So, at that point, I started looking for alternatives to fit my artform best. I came up with the name “Zaeden”, it’s basically “Waeden”, which means out-of-the-box thinking and the alphabet ‘Z’ clubbed together.
You were one of the opening acts in Justin Bieber’s Purpose World Tour in Mumbai and have also shared the stage with DJ David Guetta in the past. How will you describe your journey so far?
I would say it’s been an incredible journey for me. I had the privilege of being recognised at a very young age. Like every artist, the journey has been filled with many ups and downs but I’m thankful for all the opportunities and experiences that have come my way. I’ve learnt so much from each and every show as an artist.
You released your first Hindi single Tere Bina last year. How was it going back to your first love, singing?
To be very honest, it was surreal. The support my debut single received was both overwhelming and grounding for me. I knew from the very beginning that the transition from being a DJ-producer to singer-producer is going to be difficult and intense. There is so much that goes into putting out a track, and I feel humbled that my fans and the industry accepted and appreciated my debut attempt with love.
Who do you consider to be the biggest inspiration in your life; the one person who inspired you to enter the world of music?
I think my father has always been my biggest inspiration. From a very young age, I’ve seen my father humming and singing along to famous Kishore Kumar songs (laughs). Also, young artists today like Lauv, Alec Benjamin, Post Malone, Justin Bieber and Charlie Puth inspire me greatly.
You have performed at one of the biggest music festivals around the world—Tomorrowland. How was it like performing on a stage which hardly sees any Indian acts?
Believe me, it was a spectacular feeling. I got to sing my debut single Tere Bina while I was there, and to see people from all over the world enjoying a song in a language that is foreign to them—that feeling was indescribable. It reaffirmed my faith that music really unites us all.
Besides guitar, you have also played tabla and piano in your early days. How do you balance between being a DJ, a singer and a musician?
Ever since I can remember, I have loved to play instruments and it was my primary focus in the beginning of my career. Now, however, I am mainly focused on singing. I feel that it is a completely new chapter for me but I am always up for a new challenge.
You have collaborated with some amazing musicians and DJs. Who have you enjoyed working with the most?
I love working with Lost Stories. Rishab Joshi (part of Lost Stories) is my best friend and one of the most talented musicians I know. While working, our wavelengths match and I get to learn so much from him in the studio. I also recently worked with Jonita Gandhi for the acoustic version of Tere Bina, and it was really a blessing to collaborate with her.
What has been your most memorable live performance so far, one that still gives you goosebumps?
Memories and I are a tricky pair, but I do remember singing live at Tomorrowland’19. I was singing and the crowd was whistling and humming the hook with me, that single moment shook me. It was beyond anything I could have thought or anticipated for.
Besides your music, you have been hailed as a fashion icon by many. Are your fashion choices a conscious effort from your end or just an added bonus?
I honestly don’t try hard when it comes to fashion. I just wear whatever I am comfortable in and that’s why most of the times you’ll see me wearing oversized t-shirts.
Can we expect a new song this year? What does 2020 have in store for you?
I’m working on a factory of songs. For me, studio time is the best time, and I feel working with a great set of team and collaborators simulates this experience. I’m planning to put out a long-overdue EP sometime this year.