If you’re into the local music scene, you might have heard of artists like Xenai. Ashwin Shenoy aka Xenai, has been filling Bahrain with his head-bopping tunes and catchy verses. Just recently, we caught up with him to talk about his humble beginnings, his works and more!
Tell us a bit about yourself – who are you and what inspired you to pursue music?
Well my name is Ashwin Shenoy and I created my alias Xenai a little over 3 years ago to release music that I felt represented a different side of me. For a long time I was behind the scenes working as an audio engineer and composer, I helped sing and produce jingles for Nissan, Suzuki, Shiseido and many other Japanese companies through their agency Toho. I even got a song in one of the Anime TV shows over there. Before that, I studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, U.S.A.
Music has always been in my life thanks to my family. My dad and his brothers played music throughout their lives just not professionally. My grandfather from my mother’s side also played the Veena (Indian instrument) and competed in different competitions so it runs in my blood for sure.
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You’ve supported this family and those around you for so many years, always putting others before you. You taught me how to stay passionate, humble and fiercely determined towards my ambitions and goals. You also taught me that success doesn’t require sleepless nights 😂🤫as long as you have a laser pointed focus and can do whatever it takes. Seeing you come this far from where you were, your journey, your struggle and the obstacles you’ve overcome throughout your career is inspiring and also scares me that I have such huge shoes to fill. (You should have been a rapper) If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be half the man you were at my age. Happy Father’s Day Papa ♥️
What makes your works special?
I think what makes me stand out as a rapper and an RnB artist is that I have this whole background of different genres behind me that feeds into my process. I was into heavy metal growing up, then after entering Berklee I had phases of various other music styles; from jazz, to fusion, to Indian classical, Traditional Arabic and for the longest time experimental music.
I think it all stems from the fact that I have an identity crisis, in terms of where I am from and what culture represents me the most (I still can never answer that).
Being in an uncertain space like that allowed me to expose myself to different perspectives and viewpoints. I call myself a third culture alien -except I’m not extra-terrestrial Haha
How hard is it for musicians to be discovered in the local scene?
To be discovered here as a musician? Not hard at all. I didn’t know anyone in the “musician community” here when I was in school I just had a strong desire to play music and watch the local bands perform.
The more you come out to support other artists here you’ll eventually get more opportunities to perform as well. The only reason I feel well connected here in Bahrain was because when I was a kid I was constantly hanging out with people who loved music and I wanted to jam with them.
Your passion is your doorway to discovery.
Do you have any messages for aspiring performers/musicians?
For upcoming artists I would tell them this, just because you do one form of art doesn’t mean you only expose yourself to that form for inspiration. Art travels between different mediums and it all comes from your soul so if you’re a musician, go and appreciate visual art. If you’re a painter, go watch a dance performance! If you want to really be authentic in your pursuit of music, find out how art translates between all these different forms. It will bring you closer to your form of expression.
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🖐😃 … from my smile I think that’s @angeesoon ‘s hand 🖐 I’ll be putting up some videos of the show real soon! Stay tuned! Also I’m performing tonight at Sonder with @zujaj.music Come through if you can! It’ll be a high key chill low key hype kinda night! Plus I have no voice and I’m kinda sick so if you hate me and want to see me screw up a set now’s your chance 🤗 💨 🔑 🌊 🔑 🎶 🔑 Photo by the great @digitalabdullah 📸 🙌
And of course, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not being realistic, because you shape your reality with how determined you are.
Do you have any upcoming events/projects that would be interesting for our readers?
I do actually! I have a song coming out today called Tasty. I also have a couple of collaboration songs in the works. One with a pop/rnb artist from Dubai ‘Varsha Vinn’ and another with Pop singer-songwriter ‘Prithvi Prajosh’. I am also acting in a movie filmed in Bahrain set to come out next Summer 2021 called “It Happened That Night”.