“India is a continent-sized amalgamation of creativity fuelled by effervescence and excitement. A lot of musical variety and exceptional singing talent has found a voice in the last decade, which is no small accomplishment,” says banker-turned-music producer Dhruv Shrikent.
Dhruv has been a passionate musician all his life, and even formed his own band ‘YC/BC’ while a student at The Doon School. He and his band also won a national inter-school festival called YouthQuake in New Delhi, playing for a 5,000-strong crowd at the Indira Gandhi Arena in Delhi.
However, Dhruv didn’t write a song of his own till 2013, when he was a Managing Director in Singapore running part of Deutsche Bank’s Asian investment banking business. The rest, as they say, is history. It took Dhruv two days and only one sitting to compose ‘Little Bit of God’, which debuted 12 months later on BBC Radio 2.
“The music poured out of me like a force of nature, and was too large to ignore. After deep reflection and honest conversations with family and friends, I plunged full-time into making, composing and performing music under the brand name ‘Druv Kent’,” he told Connected to India. And he hasn’t looked back since.
2015 was a breakout year for Dhruv in the music industry. He became the first Asia-based artist supported in 20 years by BBC Radio 2. He’s now released four successful albums, scored four #1 chart-topping singles on the World Indie Music Charts and the Euro Indie Music Chart and had songs feature in the US Top 20. He has a catalog comprising 4 EPs and 18 hit singles in both English and Hindi.
“A release, a massive show, getting to number one, these are all amazing moments – filled with a mix of nervousness, apprehension and sheer exhilaration. They should be celebrated. But, they are also merely ‘moments’. The journey is long, far more challenging and varied, and that is what needs to be enjoyed, not merely the moments,” Dhruv said.
Dhruv also tours extensively and has had multiple performances across the UK, Dubai, Singapore and India. The Kolkata-born musician moved from Hong Kong to Singapore in 2010 to become the regional head of Deutsche Bank’s Asian investment banking business.
“My personal motivation was to raise my two young boys in the green, safe expanse of Singapore, which reminded me of my early years in Kolkata,” he added. He also said that he has zero regrets about leaving his career in finance for one in music, saying that it has been rather exhilarating to see the world as an artist.
“But, the adjustments are real. In a bank, your role and daily structure are intense, for sure, but well defined, while your financial compensation is substantial. As an artist, you are the entrepreneur, the CEO, the main asset, and the sole employee. And every dollar and milestone feels personal and hard-earned,” he said.
It has not all been smooth sailing. Dhruv admitted it took some time to reconcile himself in a new world, and has some practical words of advice for youngsters looking to pursue an arts career.
“Pursue your art only if you are aware of the challenges this will cause and you have a sustainable love for your art. Choosing art over money is not an easy choice and raises many deep questions," Dhruv said, going on to fire off some of those questions.
"How loudly does that art speak to you? Does it need your full day? Can you afford to follow your heart from a financial perspective, ie, will you quite literally have food to eat? Is that all you really need? Can you withstand the emotionally difficult journey of being an artist? Are you comfortable being judged on these fragments that come from your soul? Can you find the self-discipline to cope with the unstructured and entrepreneurial life that awaits you? What does ‘success’ look like? What does ‘enough’ look like?,” he shared, and it is clear that these are deeply personal questions that he has asked himself multiple times over the years.
Dhruv told us that he feels he was fortunate that he decided to switch career tracks as an adult with a relatively vast experience of the world.
“Importantly, your life partners too need to be comfortable with those choices. I was fortunate to have that. Either way, it’s a deeply personal question, and I spend a lot of time every week talking to young people about these kinds of issues,” he said.
Dhruv is currently working on some songs for Bollywood and for a Netflix show and says he is really excited about his upcoming projects. All his music is available online and on his YouTube channel as well as other streaming services.
“I have a lot more to explore in the Hindi space – and have been busy writing and composing a number of new Hindi songs, which I am recording in Mumbai. Additionally, I have written and composed a collection of fusion”songs, combining Indian and English music and styles, which I am recording in London,” he said, signing off.