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Shayaan Oshidar: My music will tackle wrong notions of beauty

Music runs in the family of Cyrus Oshidar, the man who made MTV and VH1 cool. His daughter Shayaan is topping the dance charts and planning her Indian invasion

Article by Asatha Atray Banan | Mid Day

Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of African music, thanks to my dad. I think it’s because of that, that I have got some rhythm in my body, and can dance as well,” says singer-songwriter Shayaan Oshidar. Her dad is Cyrus Oshidar, who once headed the creative and content departments at MTV and VH1, and garnered the youth’s attention by giving them shows such as the now iconic Roadies.

Oshidar, who currently runs 101 India, which deals in digital content, laughs, “I don’t know when she got into EDM. I am old school that way and like African music, jazz, opera… so that’s what I used to play at home.” But, as the 24-year-old, says, “Mom [Simeen] was into Indian classical, and made me listen to loads of Hindi music. She used to explain the lyrics to me. That’s where the drive to do Hinglish music comes from. And, of course, I was a teenager, so I loved boy bands, and that’s where my pop leanings come from. So, my aesthetic is a mix of many genres.”

Shayaan, who speaks to us from London, just as she is waking up in the middle of the day, after being awake all night in the studio recording a cover of the Zara Larsson song, Ruin My Life, is clear about exploring the two facets of her career. The first is songwriting for other artistes, which she does with her writing partner Ryan Bickley, as part of the outfit Hicari. They have already written songs for artistes such as Justin Caruso, and recently wrote a song for popular Dutch DJs Nicky Romero and W&W, called Ups and Downs. One of their dance numbers, was in the top 20 billboard dance hits in America. “I met Ryan at uni, and we had a band, and when that ended, we just kept writing,” says Shayaan. “The good thing about songwriting is that it can be done for anyone from anywhere. So, we will keep doing that.”

But, when she is back in India in May, she wants to focus on her own projects. In a country that doesn’t really have a music industry that supports songwriting the way it’s done in either the US or the UK, that could be a smart move. “I have told her it’s going to take some time to make money,” says Cyrus. “She is stuck between two cultures – she should write songs when she is not in India, and over here, I think performing would be a better option.” When we watch Shayaan’s cover videos on her Instagram account, we are won over by her sweet voice and pleasant, sweet disposition.

“I really want to explore the Hinglish scene, and collaborate with some Hindi writers, and create pop music because that’s my true aesthetic.” When we ask Cyrus, who has first-hand experience of the music industry, working behind the scene for so long at MTV, what he thinks will work for his daughter, he says, “She looks nice, sings well, and is actually talented. I think what will work is if she is herself. She needs to stand out and create a space for herself.”

For Shayaan, the space she wants to create musically, also has to be one that she uses to give out a message. Growing up in Sobo, and attending school at JB Petit, she says she faced a lot of bullying. “All-girls schools are savage. I was bullied for being fat and called chubby. I felt very insecure. And so, I want to take a stand, and say that beauty is subjective, and there is no perfect ideal for what beauty is. There shouldn’t be. It’s a big issue in India,” says the young lady, who says even haters on Instagram have made her realise that this negativity is just not necessary. “Even the covers that I am recording these days and putting out on my social media, are about issues I believe in. I want my music to be used in such a way that women can come together.”