There Is Never a Correct Time to Do Anything You Want - Mrunal Shankar

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1. Tell us more about your background and journey.

This is Mrunal Dhole, 24, Currently from Pune. I am an artist and my stage name is Mrunal Shankar (Shankar is my middle name). I am from a typical middle class Marathi family with no artistic background, where having a 9-5 job is told to be a life goal. 

Even I had a vision to work in armed forces, or merchant navy. But over the time, the artist in me took over and life lead me to a point where I decided to make my passion a profession. So now, I am not "Mrunal Dhole, a Mechanical Engineer", I'm "Mrunal Shankar, Rapper singer songwriter". 

I have been an over-enthusiastic personality since childhood. I wanted to be good at everything, keep trying n learning new things all the time. I still do. It makes me feel alive and have some purpose to live. I used to participate in elocution competitions a lot, it gave a tremendous confidence in front of mic. 

I have been trained in Kathak for 5 years even before I knew I could sing. It taught me real good rhythm sense. I used to write small poems in school though. Also used to compose most of the poems which we were taught in curriculum. Didn't know these same things will be my profession one day. 

After having a break from kathak, I was put in guitar class to pass well the vacations of 10th grade. I got introduced to music and my life started taking a different turn. My guitar was never put back in the case, I was haunted by it, played it all the time. 

Even when the classes got over, I tried to learn more on my own, whereas my batch-mates had already put it in the attic. Slowly started singing with the guitar. Shifted to Pune for education and got exposed to whole other world of opportunities which u didn't even know it exists. 

I started taking part in solo singing competitions. Never won any for 2 years. Well I was really noob when I started but it kept getting better with time. My voice, my style was really different and I was told that it is not suiting me. I used to sing male songs in male scale because my voice was heavy, so I was never accepted by the judges in the first go! 

Over the years I got that control is the key, and I got hold onto my voice. And then things started getting better. I got to be a lead singer in a rock band after that. We won many band wars in two years. Meanwhile, I had sung jingles for radio mirchi Pune too. 

Used to do the acoustic gigs in cafes, bars. But after all these things I knew that the corners in the lounges was not what I wanted. I wanted the stage. I wanted the people who come specially to watch you, where you are not a complementary item. 

While doing all this along the apprenticeship in an MNC, it was getting a little hard to keep the balance in between job, jammings, shows and home. We are always told that once you have a secure job in hands, you do anything you want. But that's a hoax. 

There is never a correct time to do anything you want. I thought having a job will solve my problems but it didn't. I thought I'll manage both music and job but it was not worth it. I thought at least after having a job my family will not be having any issue with my music but the reality was the same. 

So I decided that I won't be trying to manage things anymore. I straight away deleted the job element and now I'm trying to make my name as a full time artist. It's still hard. I earn lesser money, yet. But all fields have challenges. I am happy and that's what matters the most. 

I've been making music since 2 years now. RnB, pop, hip-hop, folk, everything. To produce your own music, you need a little investment. So for that I am doing a part time job as a music teacher in a school right now, where I teach Western vocals and keyboard to children. It helps me keep rooted and build patience which I lack. Life is going great now.

2. When did you first decide you wanted to pursue music and how did you start?

I grew up in a small town called "Ratnagiri". We did not have as much opportunities to even explore the art in us. So when I came to Pune for engineering, I got a slot to perform solo acoustic set in annual cultural fest. 
Though it was a really small occasion, it gave me huge appreciation from college, including the faculties. 

Suddenly, they all started to know me by my name. And those little things were too big for me that time. It encouraged me to find the means which will keep me on the stage with a mic in front of me because I used to feel like home whenever I was on stage, more than comfortable, even more confident. 

I didn't want to ever stop feeling that way! So I decided I wanna keep doing this. Didn't know how, what, where. I just knew that I wanted this. Even this realization is important to go on with next steps. 

3. Who is your favorite artist and why?

My favorite artists are Beyoncè and Priyanka Chopra. Not just because of their artistry, but for the way they have moulded their lives, their journey is what inspires me to work more. These are like boss ladies, self made women. Even I want to be an example as them and inspire even more people. 

People don't listen to you when you just talk, but if you tell them through your art, they consume it for sure. I wanna use my songs to convey my messages and bring the change that is needed. 

Beyoncè is an icon in music industry. She ex-hails nothing but a strong positive energy which I relate to a lot. Priyanka have been concurring the world since teenage and now she's a global star. If A tomboy girl like her can be miss world then anything is possible.

4. Can you throw some light on opportunities one gets as a singer?

See, there are a lot of people in the world who are talented. Some are extremely talented. Some are born with it, some make themselves good enough. But everyone needs a correct opportunity to let the world know about them. (If recognition is the thing that one needs).
As a singer, there are plenty of opportunities if you look well at it. Playback singing, as we know is major and primary sector for singers. But one must know that it should not be the only goal for a singer. There is a tremendous competition over there. 

So instead running in a rat race, one must make their own lane where only you are the best. Create opportunities for yourself rather than waiting for someone else to make it and offer it to you. 

5. Is formal training required or can one train themselves purely on the basis of talent?

I have never taken a formal training but now things are still falling in places after a long time. Yet, I feel that if I had taken some training, it would have been better for the singer in me. Maybe few years must have been saved which went off in just knowing myself. 

Most of my music is hip-hop oriented these days, which doesn't really require a kind of training we are talking about. But when I work on any singing project, it does give me a little insecurity that I am not up to the mark since I didn't have the training. The opinions will vary if you ask different people. 

But it depends on the type of music you make, if you must need the training or not. Till the time you get The Guru you were looking for, self training is the best way to keep proceeding. There are numerous vocal exercises available online. These can really help you if done consistently. It did to me. 

6. What piece of advice would you like to give to future and aspiring artists?

Make original music. Do not waste time covering other artists songs for much long. Afterall it's someone else's song. The originality of your voice will be seen in your very own composition only. Without any influence. Get known for your own songs, rather than having an identity as the guy/girl who sings Arijit's covers.

Make 100 songs, atleast 1 of it will surely give you the success you needed. Consistency is the key. Give attention to promotion of your music even more than your actual art. Find creative ways to promote it organically. Make your website. Yes it is important. 

If some day all the social media sites vanish, do not let it vanish your existence in the world. Invest in your own website. Things will take time to actually pay back. But when it will work, it will be worth it. 

7. Which is your favourite book and why? 

Currently, I have been reading books like "the secret", "Rich dad poor dad", "5 am club", etc. I find the things mentioned in it really interesting. abundance, manifestation, the power of subconscious mind and other things. I like to try the things mentioned in it. Still Lacking the consistency in few things, but will get there soon. 

- Mrunal Shankar

- Interview by - Chamanth Krishna

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