A British-Indian Singer and Songwriter with musical influences ranging from John Mayer and U2 to Kaushiki Chakrabarty and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Taren Kaur is a name you will be hearing a lot more of in the future, we're sure of that!
This month, Taren celebrated her birthday and so we thought it only fitting to feature her as the artist of the month!
Tell us about Taren Kaur.
Taren Kaur is a British Singer-Songwriter, Composer and Singer of Gurbani Shabad Kirtan (Sikh Spiritual Music). Teaching herself the guitar from a young age, she ventured forth with a deep love and passion for music with the dream to share this musical love with the world.
What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis or have you faced in your line of work?
I would say it’s interesting as a British-Indian woman to be pursuing a career in the music field. In my opinon, becoming a Professional Singer-Songwriter is not something a girl would typically grow up aspiring to be, coming from a Punjabi culture background. Even women singing on the Sikh spiritual side of things such as Gurbani Shabad Kirtan is not something that is as heard of, and I do think the encouragement level for girls to do that is low as we can see the vast majority of professionals in this field is very highly male-dominated.
So on both levels, there have been (and most likely will continue to be) moments where people don’t take me as seriously as it’s not something they are used to, or that they would expect from a woman. I find that a lot of Sikh/Indian women who undertake a creative career route go through similar situations facing doubters, questioners, and generally people trying to bring them down, or who even try to shame them or make them feel bad for not choosing a typically ‘acceptable’ career path.
But I am determined to open up the way for the next generation of girls, to inspire them to follow their dreams no matter what people think or say and show them that anything is possible if they do it with love and passion. Someone has to change the way that people think, and I’m happy to take that challenge!
If you had to, what would you get tattooed on your forehead aka, what’s your motto?
Keep going, Keep Believing and Keep the Faith. Or rather, in simple terms what it always comes down to in the end - ‘Waheguru.’ (The name that is given to God, in the Sikh faith, which is also meditated on through chanting.)
How do you stay motivated?
I’m blessed to have great mentors on my journey, and be around such wonderful people who inspire and motivate me with their presence and creativity. Gurbani and Prayer also grounds me and brings me back to reality, to make use of the time I have here on Earth to follow my dreams and live out my passion; in doing that I can connect to people and serve the world in the way I know best - through music and singing. I always hoped that my music would touch people in a positive way and help them along their journey in life.
What makes you feel good?
Is it too obvious an answer to say music? Ha-ha. Music is resounding from the very core of my being, so it's an integral part of me really. Other than that, I love spending time with family and friends, meeting lovely new people through what I do, meditating, Kirtan - Oh, and I’ve recently started to learn a bit of Yoga! There’s so many things I enjoy in life, such as watching Ice-Hockey, attending live music performances… and I am also such a foodie.
What’s been your greatest struggle, and how do you generally overcome negative emotions?
I think one thing I struggled with over the years was believing in myself. It took me a long time to trust my instincts and go for what I believe in and follow my dreams. Before I went to University, I managed to convince myself that I wasn’t able to fulfil my musical ambitions, and I gave up for a brief period of time on pursuing music as a career. But in doing that I wasn’t truly happy, and there was a horrible emptiness inside me.
When I finally accepted that singing is what I love and that I want to share my passion for music with the world, I was able to let go of my doubts of my self-worth and just continue doing it, because I love it. My problem was that I expected so much from myself, when really all I needed to do was love myself and trust my own heart.
Of course I still have times of anxiety and negativity just like everyone does - but meditation/prayer really helps to heal and overcome those moments. I realise that I just need to let God take care of it and everything will be perfect as is per the will of God.
How have your family and friends encouraged you to pursue what you are doing?
My family and friends have been my biggest supporters, especially my parents. In the beginning my parents thought I was just joking, but I took it upon myself to show them exactly how serious I was - I must have been about 13 or 14 years old.
I managed to make a rough recording of a song on the computer (with no knowledge of how anything actually worked) and left a note telling them to play this song that I had written, composed and recorded. Once they saw the effort that I had put in they understood that it was more than just a hobby to me, but truly my passion… and they’ve backed me 100% ever since. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your creative work, or outlook or who/what inspires you?
The World inspires me. Life inspires me. God inspires me. My parents hardworking ethic. So many wonderful moments I live or see, music, sounds or words I hear, acts of kindness or moments of happiness and even sadness - life moves me to write songs and brings about music inside of me.. and I am so pleased to transcribe those moments into song.
Countless musicians and singers inspire me - I have a very eclectic taste ranging from western music like John Mayer, Adele, U2, to Indian Classical Music such as Kaushiki Chakrabarty, or the Qawalli’s of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan… and then we could go to the other side and I’ll be listening to Rock, Jazz, Motown or even Rap - and then of course continuously listening to Gurbani Shabad Kirtan. Gurbani hugely inspires my songwriting, as it is so beautiful and compelling. I find it opens up my mind every day to think in ways I have never thought before, and allows me to grow closer to God.
You are having a dinner party – which three people would you invite, and why?
Oh man, just 3?! Such a tough question.. there’s so many brains I would love to pick, my list is endless! John Mayer would have to be one of them, as he is one of my biggest musical inspirations. Another would be Oprah - what a beautiful soul! And the third would be Jason Silva, as his positive radiant energy and love for life is just infectious.
Tell us an interesting fact you would like to share!
Before I realised that I wanted to be a Singer-Songwriter, growing up I was an obsessive footballer and crazy Manchester United fan! I always thought I would play women’s football professionally - I was that passionate about it!