YouTube Discovery | Ep. 08 | Sandeep Thakur - Violin Covers

Salman Khan popularized guitar (and thus air guitar) with Oh Oh Jaane Jaana in 1998

Shahrukh Khan popularized violin with Mohabbatein, two years later, in 2000
Popularity of guitar have skyrocketed since then but violins have been highly underrated. And by popularity I mean learners and not listeners. People generally tend to learn a musical instrument in the hype of it, which fades away after a few weeks of struggle[1]. Guitars are way more easier than violins. Not just for the learners, but also on the ears of the listeners while you are learning. For someone like me, who enjoys singing, guitar became my go-to instrument in college. Being left handed, I still went ahead and picked a right handed guitar, because someone (stupid) told me that I should start learning with right handed first and eventually I will be able to play with my natural hand. Till date, I have never tried playing guitar left handed. The reason that I am talking about a guitar story proves it further that violins are totally disregarded as a beautiful musical instrument. 

Post sweater-SRK era, my fascination for violin sparked again when a colleague of mine informed that he had started learning violin. Of course he had to experience [1] sooner or later and he did. I never saw his violin, never saw him play. In the next phase of my life, I stumbled upon the legendary Lindsey Stirling on YouTube. Violins were the new hip thing in my journey for musical search. Though I was in awe of these musical notes weaved together beautifully through the strings of violin, I was missing the desiness. Until I saw a viral instrumental cover of Tum Hi Ho with over 2M views. That soothing music of Tum Hi Ho expressed through violin made me check out other videos on that channel. And that is how I discovered Sandeep Thakur. Sandeep is a professional violinist who also makes violin covers on YouTube. His USP is that a lot of his violin covers have a visual story which touches the viewer's heart. I got a chance to reach out to him and ask him a few questions about his Violin Covers on YouTube. Read on below, my conversation with him to know more about him and his work. Here are some of my favourite Violin Covers by him:

Banjaara - Baarish | Ek Villain | Yaariyaan | (Violin Cover) - Sandeep Thakur

Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin (Violin Cover) | Sandeep Thakur | Agneepath

TUM HI HO | Aashiqui 2 | Instrumental (REVISITED) Sandeep Thakur, Studio Unplugged, Vashisth Trivedi

Shape Of You - Sandeep Thakur | Violin Instrumental | Ed Sheeran

ME: Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you start playing, what kind of work you have done in past and what are you currently working on ?
SANDEEPMy father is a reputed violinist himself. He has rendered his music for the likes of Laxmikant Pyarelal & R.D. Burman. So music was always running in my blood. But I hated learning the instrument as a child. I am glad my father kept encouraging me to take it up and as a result I took it up professionally too. I have been a part of several Bollywood movies and songs. I established my career as a sessions musician predominantly, where I got the chance to be a part of major hits like Mohabbatein, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Chak De India, and more recent ones like 3 Idiots, Dangal etc. I am the original violinist for the epic TUM HI HO from Aashiqui 2 composed by Mithoon. I am currently working on my original songs while YouTube channel continues to grow with a lot of cover songs.

ME: A lot of your videos have a visual story along with a message to complement the song cover? What precedes the decision making process, the message of the story or the song cover?
SANDEEP: YouTube in 2017 is working a lot differently than what it did 5 years ago. Earlier artists would do the song of their liking, the rendition that they would liked to present were the songs that they felt strongly for. Fast forward to today, it has unfortunately losing the battle to the TRENDS! "TRENDING" has been hyped so much that we no longer see artistes doing anything else that is not on trend. So the answer to your question of whether the story justifies the song , is no more relevant in 2017. I would, however, continue to give my audience quality stuff. If you feel strongly for a story, you choose the song accordingly. Whereas if you are going song centric, story could be created around it. However, story based videos are not quite in vogue today.

ME: What factors do you take into consideration when selecting songs? Also, do you take into consideration popular of requests from your viewers/subscribers? What does the entire process before a video is published on your channel look like?
SANDEEP: First half of the question has already been answered in the previous question. As much as I would love to take requests from my viewers on my channel, we have to understand that making videos require tremendous infrastructure. An artist has to meticulously plan his next release, based on trends; which is the current scenario. So all the requests cannot be taken on YouTube per say. However, FB videos are a boon in this regards. I come LIVE on FB once a month where I take requests and compensate my audience for what I fail to do for them on YouTube. The process of video making varies from artists to artist. I personally like to sit on every detailing of my videos. Right from inception of the story to the final edits. Not to forget, I produce my own videos and that's a specialised nature of work and takes a lot of time. When you hit that "Publish" button on the YouTube, you take a sigh of relief.

ME: Have you ever started with a violin version of a song and realized it didn't turn out as planned? What genre of songs you would love to but are difficult recreate?
SANDEEP: All the time. I have about 20 videos of mine on YouTube released and double that figure are the ones I haven't ever released because it was not taking the shape of what the original idea was. So I have aborted a lot of such projects. Only my close friends or very thick fans get to hear those. Surprisingly, they still love the discontinued projects and lament the fact that I didn't go on to make a proper video and release the same. I would love to do background soundtracks from Epic movies. Those are challenging to be covered the way they are with appropriate instrumentation.

ME: What is your dream setup? (which artist do you want to work with, where do you want to perform and what song/style do you want to perform, etc.)
SANDEEP: My dream set up is to conduct a 100 piece orchestra that would play my original compositions. YANNI has been my role model and I want to, if I can even remotely, reach the level of world music that he has established. However, because I do a lot of Electronic music as well, I would love to play on a stage like Tomorrowland someday.

ME: What are your favourite violin artists on YouTube or otherwise? 
SANDEEP: Robert Mendoza is a genuine YouTuber who I follow a lot. Besides, I follow DSharp too and he is a good friend as well. Other than YouTubers some really brilliant violinists come from western classical background and they are totally awe inspiring. One of them is Sarah Chang.

In the end I would like to thank Sandeep for allowing me to write about his work and giving his valuable time to answer my curiosity. If you enjoyed this post and the work Sandeep has been doing, then feel free to share it. Let me know your favourite video by Sandeep in the comments below. I will see you next time with a new guest. Until then, *cue in Mohabbatein tune*....!

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If you liked this episode do check out my previous episodes:
YouTube Discovery | Ep. 07 | Sarah T Drum Guru - Percussion Covers

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