Ambitious, Addictive and Fresh: New EP ‘The Bad In The Good’ by Shiyana x Hyde
Shiyana and Hyde’s new alternative pop song Trip has been making the rounds on YouTube garnering hundreds of thousands of views in under two weeks, and there would not have been a more apt time to drop their new EP ‘The Bad In The Good.’ It’s an EP consisting of three tracks that can make you bop your head and get you up on your feet, but also make you reflect as you listen to intricate personal stories. These stories are tied up with a variety of unpredictable but enjoyable sounds produced and mixed by Hyde, who creates the uplifting sonic environment for the tracks. ‘The Bad In The Good’ is a simple and concise EP, but it’s creatively put together and stands out for Shiyana’s sweet vocals and melodies, and Hyde’s exquisite production.
We were fortunate to have a discussion with Shiyana and Hyde regarding their latest EP, the process of making it and much more. Check it out down below.
The tracks in ‘The Bad In The Good’ aptly expresses your self-discovery that came prior to making this EP. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey as an artist that inspired you to put this out?
S – I don’t see my journey as an artist evident at all. Everything is connected. The world inside my music, which comforts me, was created by the world outside my music, which I utterly detest. I’ve sort of had this huge rollercoaster ride mentally and emotionally. I was born in Bombay, brought up in a lot of places, and was very much my daddy’s little girl, and daddy’s girls are always set to impress them, and my father liked things very different from usual, strict, patriarchal, dominating fathers. He liked everything that was outside of India. He always looked at life 10 years ahead. The music too, he listened to mostly English music, and he was the one who exposed me to it.
Michael Jackson, Boney M, Bee Gees, Cher… although everything was commercial, for me it was good music, still is. Subconsciously, music was there since the start, but I just didn’t notice, I guess. I was a child actress when I came back to Bombay for good and my mom tells me I was a very egoistic child, because of all the praises that got to my head. When puberty hit, it made me the ugliest child in my entire family. So from the most-loved, praised, beautiful person, I went straight down to acne-breeding, fat, useless kid. Because of being asked so much about my skin condition back then, I would never get out of the house. Never speak to people, because I thought they hated me. Where does a teen vent out all the loneliness, helplessness and the frustration? I started to sing.
image courtesy of hyde
The EP has a great mix of interesting beats, mid-tempo bass drops and catchy hooks throughout which makes the listening experience an enjoyable one. How has Hyde’s input as the mixer, arranger and producer on the EP helped to shape the sound of the record?
S – I don’t think I would have even done this EP if it wasn’t for Hyde. Every vocalist that makes a song fits either pop, R&B, or hip-hop mainly. But it’s the instrumental or the music that rightly makes it or breaks it. Imagine Michael Jackson’s songs without the signature beat, or for example Rihanna, she has sung genres that have been on opposite ends in the past year; from Work to This Is What You Came For, these songs are different because of the music mainly. Anyone can remix work into a progressive dance song, or make an acoustic version of This Is What You Came For, but these songs are in that respective space because of the music. I’m lucky to have Hyde produce my EP because it’s extremely difficult to find a producer who is on the same wavelength as you and has the same vision for the EP, on top of which, he trusted me and had enough faith in our EP to be partly financing it along with me.
H – My main aim was to create fresh music, new music, bringing about a mix of new styles. I feel like music production for most producers has come down to black or white. They’re either going retro or completely modern. So, some would prefer using all organic sounds and going funk and some were heading towards modern synths and the usual EDM sounds. I wanted to explore the space in between. Keep the best of both worlds. It was very difficult to know which sounds would complement each other and sound good together and not make the mix muddy. Sometimes some combinations sound a bit too much, more than necessary. We had so many ideas and all of them were so good. But I didn’t want to get carried away and get tempted to give everything on one track; it ends up sounding like a mosh pit. As a creator, artist, producer, whatever we call it, I think the biggest challenge we face is one question: “When do you know it’s complete?”
What was the music video shoot for Trip like?
S – The shoot day was a madman’s maze. This was the first time both Hyde and I were producing and directing a music video. I went to every rehearsal with the girls because we only had 3 days with them. The agencies who bring down foreign dancers in India get a lot of work from Bollywood, so if a Bollywood song needed them for 10 days, they’d happily do it. But because we had no past experience, most of these agencies were sceptical. And they get paid on a per-day basis, so they wouldn’t let us have the dancers for more than 3 days, which was a major drawback.
The song with the dancers was shot in 1 day, 16 hours to be precise. The set was made a day before and kept ready. The art director we worked with, Preetesh, is the best person I’ve ever met in terms of doing everything on time and doing it like how we wanted it. He gave his 200%. This was shot in August when it was raining. We didn’t have dry sand, and this man managed to get that too! He made the amazing tunnel, the stage, the sandpit, all on time.
On the day of the shoot, we had to start at 9 am. The dancers and all the crew had arrived. The one thing which was so important was the sound and he arrived at 1pm. Till date, we don’t know why. Our shoot was delayed by 4 hours only because of a 16-year-old with a sound system. We would have had enough time to shoot a lot more details if it wasn’t for that major delay. A lot of mishaps happened throughout the shoot day, but we still managed to get the shots thanks to all the makers of the video.
H – The glow-in-the-dark shots weren’t actually taken on the same day of the shoot. They were shot almost after a month because we felt there wasn’t anything there to symbolise the word “Trip” in the video. It was shot on my terrace, a day before our press kit shoot with a normal DSLR.
image courtesy of shiyana
The tracks are upbeat but the content and lyrics speak of what it’s like to be depressed, anxious, indecisive, heartbroken and suicidal, and about overcoming it. What was the writing process like and how did you essentially express these tough periods through your words?
S – I’ve never started writing a song thinking, “Oh, I’m going to write about this.” For me, the writing process is very subconscious. I straight away hum melodies and most of the times with words, when I feel connected to a certain kind of music or sometimes just on my own. Out of the three [tracks], only Mood Swings was made completely on vocal composition as a scratch. The chants in Sea Of Voices were made 3-4 years ago, and the actual melody and lyrics of the song were made this year. Trip was completely based on Hyde’s production.
For writing the Sea Of Voices, like I said, the chants, as I like to call them, were recorded 3-4 years ago, and I never got to writing down a song for the chants, probably because I was in that phase that the song talks about. Obviously, I couldn’t understand my own feelings or dissect them to describe them in words at that point. But now that I’m sort of out of it, I felt like I could let that out and this could be a good theme for the chants, because these chants are really, really precious to me. They ring like a wakeup call from all the bad things you feel like doing to yourself when you’re not in the right state of mind, when you’re in a state of mind of harming yourself. But Hyde and I mutually came down to deciding that we didn’t want the song to depress people further; we wanted to address the feeling, help understand it, help overcome it, and make it sound like therapy.
Trip is a confession with sass. A confession where I know I’m wrong to love someone as abusive as this person but I also know he’s not gonna get anyone better! I eventually end up getting out of that situation, of course, but it talks about the addiction of expecting people to change towards you and for you, which they never will, and you learn it the hard way, that you shouldn’t stick around waiting for someone to give back what you’re giving them. If they don’t from the start, they never will.
I was struggling with making the third song, choosing from my previous compositions, and all of them sounded too old. I told Hyde, “Let’s go with orchestral arrangements, or let’s just keep 2 tracks.” Once, I had a really bad day and I said I didn’t want to do the EP at all, and he said, “Listen, your mood swings are driving me nuts, decide!” And now we have a song called Mood Swings. I have crazy anxiety, and I overthink to no limits. I can have fights in my own head with someone and in real life, everything could be as calm as you can imagine. My mind has 120329330 tabs open forever with UNREAL possibilities. So, Mood Swings is basically as twisted as me going from talking about a song that addresses a very serious issue like suicide, to my mind playing Tetris with decisions.
After such a good reception from the internet on Trip, one would expect the EP to be a favourite soon too. How excited are you about the release and what are you looking forward to?
H – We’re honestly really nervous, excited and scared, really up there with the emotions, because we’ve worked one whole year to make this EP sound and look at a level that is usually achieved by a label. Our audience is already a very selective one, and we tried getting everything right to the toe for them to love the EP, and I hope they do!
S – I really love the EP myself. It has a song for every time of the day. We’re really looking forward to experiencing it live with everyone!
‘The Bad in the Good’ by Shiana X Hyde is out now.