- Words Notion Staff
Producer and singer-songwriter Shivum Sharma tells Notion about his latest EP, ‘In Transit’, and makes us an exclusive mix in aid of self-reconnection.
Shivum Sharma is a South London based producer and singer-songwriter who has developed a unique sound early in his career. With falsetto vocals that float over dreamy melodies, he describes finding it a “struggle to define my music genre-wise”. For Shivum, new EP ‘In Transit’, “encapsulates me and my sound right now very well.”
Also a DJ playing the LGBTQ+ club circuit frequently, his busy summer included a Glastonbury performance alongside slots at legendary South Asian festival Dialled In, and a Tate Late. An artist with Indian Irish heritage, Shivum describes aiming to spotlight “young marginalised voices including those of QPOC and LGBTQI+” through his work as a DJ and radio host, alongside his musical collaborations.
We caught up with Shivum to find out about his new EP, inspirations, launch party and more. Tune in to his exclusive mix for Notion below.
Hey Shivum! Congrats on the new project, ‘In Transit’, has it been a long time in the making?
Thanks so much! A few of the tracks I wrote quite a long time ago and they’ve moved through many different forms as I’ve tried to mould them into a final one that felt exactly right. Sometimes it really takes a lot of experimentation and trial & error for me to get my songs to a place that I’m happy with. But then also sometimes I don’t realise a song has been finished for years, and only when it comes to the mixing stage do I realise I’ve been sitting on great fully finished music without knowing it.
Tell me a bit about the new EP, it really feels like it was the perfect laidback vibe for summer. What were your intentions during its production?
I wanted to create a body of work that in some way encapsulated my sound right now. This is often hard as my influences are pretty wide and drawing them together can be difficult, but I felt it was important to create something that felt cohesive, told a story and took the listener on a journey as a whole body of work track to track. As a few of the tracks had been started a while back, re-visiting them with a refreshed perspective and a view to bringing them together was super exciting and made me fall back in love with them. I always aim to pay some tribute to the music that influenced me growing up, and I’m a 90s baby so I find that some elements of early 2000s pop always finds its way into my sound in some way.
How do you feel the EP is a development of your soul sound, and the music you’ve put out previously?
I allowed myself in ‘Overload’ to reach a euphoric more electronic sound in Overload which was a lot of fun. I’m a huge fan of artists like Robyn, TR/ST and Light Asylum so wandering into somewhere closer to that kind of world for a minute felt great. I really put my all into that track when recording it – and honestly kind of fucked myself up – it’s super difficult to sing live.
I got help from some amazing artists with production on these songs, but I wrote all the tracks alone mostly at a piano, which gave me the freedom to take my time and experiment more with the chords and harmonies. I wanted to emulate the emotions and meanings of the tracks musically as much as possible as well, as opposed to just through the lyrics.
Your launch party went down at Peckham Audio over summer, how did it go? The line-up looked great!
It was honestly such a special night for me. It was my first time putting on my own event – something I definitely want to do more of in the future – so I was a bit nervous leading up to it, but at the same time, I didn’t really have time to be nervous as there was so much else going on with it being the same date as my EP’s release. The lineup was made up entirely of DJs I both admire for their work and love as people, so it really felt like a family affair. I took the risk of having it south of the river which people love to complain about, but people came from the depths of north and east London to dance until the end. Sometimes my work as a DJ and as a musician can feel a little conflicting and it always makes me feel great to be in a space where I can express both sides of what I do.
I know you do a lot of DJing alongside your releases, and it seems like this summer’s been a big one for you, playing Glastonbury must’ve been huge? Body Movements this weekend as well…
Glastonbury was massive for me. I’ve always wanted to play there and it was even more special to be able to do it as part of London Trans+ Pride and The Chateau’s takeover. Body Movements was incredible again also. I feel so lucky to be invited to play at queer events run and attended by the queer individuals and collectives that I look up to. I love seeking out & sharing music and feel that DJing so much over the past year has been so good for me creatively all-round.
Do you have a favourite event or space to play that really inspires you? Or where you feel is a supportive platform for rising talent like yourself?
Foundation.fm 100%. It’s a station and community I’d been admiring from afar for a while and I feel blessed to have been invited to become a part of over the past year with my own radio show, and I’m also there once a week to help out with some behind the scenes bits. It’s such an open and warm space – whatever you want to play, however you want to present, any crazy idea you want to pitch – you’ll be listened to and appreciated.
I know you count artists and musicians like Ego Ella May, Kiran Kai and Alex Burey as close collaborators, is the collaborative process important to you? How did the collaborations come about for your latest project?
Collaboration is vital for me. I have so many incredible musical ears around me I’d be crazy to not make the most of them. I find writing collaboratively a bit more difficult, but in terms of production the way pretty much all of my past releases have come together is by being passed around one or two producers and myself, each of us adding something to it. I love to get others to sing backing vocals with me also. You can hear Ego Ella May and Alex Burey singing backing on this EP.
Tell me about your mix for Notion, what vibe were you going for and how did you make the selects?
I’m currently trying my best to re-connect with some elements of my younger self, and one of those is the relationship I had with music as a teenager. It was quite a spiritual and emotional one – I think because I was semi-religious at the time and music felt really sacred and connected to some kind of higher power to me. I was discovering a lot of music for the first time that would inspire me so much. Music really felt like a gift and something to learn from, and a way to explain feelings and realisations that couldn’t be explained in words. I wanted to create a mix that my teenage self would’ve connected to on that level. These songs harmonically feel otherworldly to me.
I’m recently really loving experimenting more with DJing music outside of electronic and dance music and making more downtempo mixes made up of live music.
Where do you imagine people listening to your mix? What is the ideal experience?
Between 2 – 5am alone in their bedroom, or on a long solo rainy coach journey, or on a small speaker by their bed left on to soundtrack sweet dreams. It’s definitely one to get into alone regardless. It’s quite a soft slow mix. Very meditative, but also upbeat, positive and somewhat sensual. I hope it brings out some childhood naivety in you.