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TikTok Stars, Twin Sisters Kiran And Nivi Saishankar's Infusion of Carnatic Melodies with Pop Music Draws Fans Like Shawn Mendes
"Shawn Mendes started following us on TikTok and Sia shared our cover of her song, “Snowman” on her instagram story which was really amazing. We were shocked to see that they both even knew who we were."
Ara Ehamparam
Co-founder & Podcast Host
Canada
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Fraternal twin sisters Kiran and Nivi Saishankar went viral on TikTok and other social media platforms with their mashup covers with songs infusing Carnatic music with songs from artists like Sia, Jason Derule and Coldplay. They recently introduced the world to some of their original self-produced music including "Is There Peace?".

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Shawn Mendes, Jason Derulo, (saw the collab with him which was very cool!) SIA are fans which is amazing! How did they discover your music? Have Shawn Mendes and SIA reached out to you in some way and are there future collabs coming up?

Shawn Mendes started following us on TikTok and Sia shared our cover of her song, “Snowman” on her instagram story which was really amazing. We were shocked to see that they both even knew who we were. We are just grateful for all the love and support we have been receiving! 

You guys have a huge social media following on both Instagram (150K+ followers) and TikTok (1.2M+ followers)! How did you go about building your following?

We found TikTok by sheer luck and Nivi had the idea of posting singing videos. We started posting our first video which got 1,000 likes in a day and we were pleasantly surprised by that.  This gave us the motivation to continue to do more videos. I would say posting consistently helped us build our following.  

Usually as you grow in popularity, the majority of comments & interactions you have with followers is generally positive, but there’s always that small vocal group of negative followers. Is this something you’ve seen and if so, how do you deal with them?

Yes, there have been some negative comments, but we don’t really take it to heart as everyone has their own opinions about things and what’s important is to do things that we love and believe in. Our fans love us for our music and we feel that that is a very pure relationship that makes us forget about the negativity, not only from social media but the tragic events that have happened in the past year. 

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I personally view social media in a positive light.  I see it as a tool that can be used for good or bad (similar to a car). Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Yes, definitely agree. Social media can be good and bad. One example of the positives is that it has helped us gain a following that we wouldn’t if it weren’t for social media. One of the negatives is when people are negative to one another on social media. However, overall we feel like the good outweights the bad.   

At what age did you get into creating music?  What was the spark that got you excited about music?

We started composting at around 15 or 16. When we were young, we were trained in Carnatic music and listening to our favorite musicians sparked an interest in us to practice 3-4 hours a day. The passion incremently increased from there. 

I know the creative arts can be looked down on, in the Tamil community. What do you think this needs to change or have you seen this already changing?

We have seen it changing slowly in the Tamil community.  Yes, there is a sentiment that making a living in the creative arts industry isn't a worthy profession especially from a financial point of view, but we're happy to see that this is slowly changing.  We believe as there is more South Asian representation in the entertainment industry, this will change the perception of the viability of a career in this space.  

How have your family and friends supported you through your journey?  Did you have any doubters?

Our parents have supported us to the fullest. Without them, we would have never come this far. They always encouraged us to do music and have never looked down on it. There are alot of our parents' friends who doubt this career and have asked a lot of questions about it.  However, our parents were not fazed by these sorts of questions as they continued to pour confidence into us.  We are so grateful to have our parents as said before, we really wouldn’t be here without their unconditional support. 

What’s one goal that, if you were to accomplish it over the next three months, would feel like a big win for you?

Right now, we are in the process of writing original songs so it would be a dream come true if one of our songs makes an impact in the world and gets on one of the top music charts.

Where do you see yourselves in the next 3-5 years? 

We see ourselves as full-time artists and performing musicians. 

Who is one person from the global Tamil community and one person that isn’t Tamil that you admire and why?

In the Tamil community, we admire A.R. Rahman sir because he is very humble but super talented, while somehow maintaining the aura of calmness that we aspire to have.  

One person that isn’t Tamil that we admire is Michael Jackson as his music has touched so many people’s hearts and has a unique flair to it.

What would be your dream job if you weren’t allowed to participate in the music space?

We would try to still do something in the music space like maybe becoming a music teacher.  We love music too much! 

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What do you think you would tell 16-year Kiran & Nivi looking back?

Never give up and stay positive.  Minimizing the focus on the negatives and look at them as learning opportunities.

How would you describe your dream life?  

For us, our dream life involves making music that touches and changes people's lives.  Breaking the stereotypes isn't easy but with music anything is possible. Through our music, we want to show that regardless of race, religion, gender, etc., everyone should love each other and accept each other. We know music has the power to do this. 

What is your favourite book(s) you've read recently or a podcast(s) that you've listened to recently that's had an impact on you?

"Attitude Is Everything" by Jeff Keller. is a book we would recommend 

What is a new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life?

To always stay positive and patient.  Even if situations seem undesirable, there is always a reason for it and that there is a right time for everything. 

If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?

We would definitely donate to a lot of organizations.  The first one being the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Trust and Organization. It means a lot to us to help anyone in need, and we think it’s important to make a change in the world by helping others when we have the capacity to do so.

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What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?

Definitely Rasam. 

What is your favourite Tamil movie?

We love a lot of movies but to name a few: Endhiran, Aramm, Master, etc. 

What does Tamil culture mean to you?

Tamil culture to us is the music that we've been practicing since we were young.  We want to show people that we are proud of our heritage and music a big way to do that.  It's been refreshing and shocking to see people who love Carnatic music when we fuse it into our pop music videos.  This helps us feel even more confident about our identity.  To us Tamil culture is that, to be proud of who you are.  

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Ara Ehamparam
Co-founder & Podcast Host | TamilCulture
Canada
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