The kind of name Darshan Raval has made for himself in the music industry in a matter of four years is nothing short of phenomenal. The 23-year-old musician, hailing from Ahmedabad, is a popular singer, songwriter and composer whose songs are being appreciated nationwide.

In conversation with Guardian 20, Raval spoke about his latest single, his career as an independent musician, and the role digital platforms and singing reality shows have played in his success.

This year has proved particularly fruitful for Raval. He has given several hits, including tracks like “Chogada” from Loveyatri, and “Kamariya” from Mitron, both of which were chartbusters. Always balancing between independent music and Bollywood songs,  Raval recently came out with a new single, “Do Din”, which he composed himself. The song has garnered over 33 million views on YouTube in just three weeks.

The happy love song in the pop genre is the first of its kind by the singer. Raval told us how the song came about, and the response it has received since its release. “In my independent music career, I’ve always been making sad songs. In those songs, either I die or the girl dies, or somebody dies in the videos. They have always been very sensitive. So this time, I thought of not making a sad song, but a love song which will make people happy and on which they can groove. This is my first attempt at making a happy love song. I’m so glad that people have loved it. I was very scared earlier, but people have really appreciated it,” he said.

Raval became a household name when he competed in the music reality show India’s Raw Star in 2014. Even though he gained popularity, he became the first runner-up in the finale. Needless to say, he has proved his musical prowess and is now touted to be the next big thing in music. His hit singles, like “Meri Pehli Mohabbat” and “Ishq Chada Hai”, are already breaking records.

Raval is now a YouTube sensation. His songs have crossed 100 million views online. He told us how digital platforms are shaping the careers of upcoming artistes and how important sites like YouTube are for contemporary musicians. He said, “I started my journey on YouTube and it has helped me a lot in shaping my career. Digital is actually a very easy platform. If you have talent, you can just record and upload a song. You never know, it could go viral. So, it’s a great platform for all emerging singers who are talented, but have no clue where to start from. They can launch their career on YouTube.”

The young musician ventured into film music with “It’s Time to Party” for a Gujarati movie. His entry into mainstream Bollywood music happened with the chartbuster from Salman Khan starrer Prem Ratan Dan Payo, “Jab Tum Chaho”. These opened the floodgates for a number of hits like “Main Woh Chand”, “Bekhudi” and “Keech Meri Photo”.

If on the one hand Raval was gaining prominence as a singer in the Hindi film industry, on the other he kept delivering hit singles. “Ye Barish”, “Tera Zikr”, “Saari Ki Saari”, “Shab Tum Ho” and “Baarish Lete Aana” are the well-regarded singles Raval has to his credit.

Born to Rahendra Raval and Rajal Raval, the talented artist is also a terrific performer, with a dynamic stage presence. His live performances are loved across the country. He was also selected as Ahmedabad Times “Most Desirable Man of 2017”.

Now a rising star in the music industry, Raval was once an engineering student. He told us that it was when he was thrown out of his college that he decided to pursue music. Directing his energy towards music professionally just happened next.  “It was something that I never planned. I used to love making and singing songs. When I left engineering, I was actually thrown out of the college. That was the time when I got full-time into music. I dedicated myself to it and then music was the only thing I wanted to do. It just happened like that.”

Realising his potential as a musician, he then went to India’s Raw Star as a contestant. Retracing his experience on the reality show, Raval said that in addition to helping young musicians fine-tune their skills and learn from the best, such platforms launch careers and increase one’s reach in the industry. He said, “It was a big platform for me. I performed my first song ‘Pehli Mohabbat’ on national television and everyone loved it. I got a great platform and people started knowing me because of that show. I think reality shows on television are especially good for emerging artistes. I got an opportunity to meet a lot of people through that platform which advanced my career.”

Raval’s songs are known for their beautifully crafted lyrics. With meaningful and relatable verses, they seem to strike a chord with the youth. Talking about his songwriting process, Raval told us, “I give it all my heart. It’s a very simple process for me. It starts with composing, then writing the song and the final stage is singing. But it takes time as I am very emotionally attached to all the songs that I make.”

His influences in music have been many. Raval said that he admires several musicians for their singing styles, like Sonu Nigam, Arijit Singh and Kishore Kumar among many others. He likes listening to John Mayer as well. He expressed his desire to collaborate with such artistes in the future.

So now that he has done a peppy love song, which are the other genres he’d like to explore? He told us that there is a lot he wants to try. Some of the genres, he pointed out, are rock and roll, pop, EDM etc.

But what’s next for the musician? He concluded, “I am working on a lot of independent songs for 2019 and on a couple of Bollywood songs.”

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