How do you go from disliking your skin tone to being onstage letting the world see you and hear your music?! It takes a lot. Our team headed out (to Zoom!) to catch up with singer-songwriter Bibin Mathew for a short conversation on his journey with coming to terms with his identity and learning how to find space and freedom in writing songs! Read on to know more!
Q. Hey Bibin! Glad to catch up with you today. So, could you tell us how about the young Bibin?
I was born in Bangalore, and I was raised in a Christian home where worshiping Jesus was a priority. I jumped into music just because my dad was in the music industry. He was in a band called 'Heartbeat back in the late 80s. My childhood memories are full of going out for night programmes and travelling a lot with my dad.
Q. Sweet! So when did your personal interest in music begin?
Music for me started when I was in Class 7 or 8, and I was asked to play something at school. So I had my dad’s tabla and I played a patriotic song, and it turned out pretty well! That boosted my confidence and later also I played several songs using different instruments. I was a big shot in my class and absolutely loved the attention that I got by playing instruments. That’s pretty much when I started to take an interest in music.
Q. Could you tell us about challenges you faced when you were young?
I had this huge complex about my dark skin. I was extremely reluctant to face people or even talk to them. I felt I could not fit among friends and didn't think too much of myself. There were times when I felt there was no purpose that God had even made me for. In two words, I was in identity crisis mode while growing up. Later in college I got messed up with wrong friends. They were the closest people to me and I thought they were the only ones who understood me. Infact they got me into a lot of trouble, thinking that they were helping me. They were good people but I made wrong choices.
Adding to that I also got into a couple of relationships which didn’t work out. These gave me a bigger sense of self because I considered myself low in other areas. Figured I could prove something by getting into relationships. And once I get rejected, I would feel super low. Trust me, I was digging my hole even more and more. Thankfully I wasn’t into any addictions like drugs or alcohol but at the same time I think I went into some negative modes like I would stay out of sight of people and I always liked dark rooms for some reason. Yea, so these were some challenges that I’ve faced while growing up.
Q. In that case, what role did faith, if any, play in your life?
Every time someone prayed for me, they'd talk about me being a singer & doing things with worship music. It sounded great but nothing was seen practically. I never had a relationship with God, it was all a religion that I followed. The God element came into the picture when I got to the lowest state in my life, i.e. the time when my relationship got messed up! It was hard for me but that’s when I started to grow more in identifying myself in Christ and eventually realised that God has something bigger for me. It made sense that in Christ I am not worthless. I am handsome, sufficient and much stronger than my struggles.
Q. So how did you get into songwriting then? And tell us a little bit about your creative process.
Songwriting is a big structure, there are lots of courses on it, but let me tell you how I got my songs out. The first line of the song came when I was travelling in a bus and I remember some words and tune coming to mind. So I quickly recorded it on my phone. The second time I was riding a bike and I got the bridge part to the song. I stopped the bike and recorded that part. It was all in bits and pieces but I remember coming back home and one day sitting with the song, writing the first stanza, then the bridge and then again sitting and holding that same paper and just thinking. So that’s how I started writing songs.
I remember the Lord helping me produce the Footsteps album in one month. This had never happened in my eight years of music career. I had a mentor who took my songs and guided me and literally put my songs in place. It was all really fast! I am so grateful for God’s grace and for the people whom he sent in my life.
Q. Thanks for sharing that. A few techie questions now. Can you recommend any software for music production? And how can we create music at home?
I use Logic Pro software, but there is an easier software from Apple called GarageBand. It has a simple interface and is easy to place songs and put effects into that. If you need to create music at home then you need a laptop with a DAW software, a midi keyboard and an audio interface. If you could spend around Rs. 40,000/- for this, then you don’t have to go to studios or depend on them. You can create your own music at home.
Q. Last question! Your top two tips to maintain emotional and mental health?
1. In order to move on in life, you need to let go of your past.
2. The moment you accept yourself as who you are, you grow!
To get to know more about Bibin, you can follow him on Instagram @bibin.mathew85. Thanks for stopping by!