Young, energetic, talented and with a vision to create an identity, that’s a combination that everyone at the age of 23 would like to have, but only a few would also have the drive to follow the direction of their heart. From being the one with a surname, she has become the one with her first name known in the world. No prizes guessing that we are talking about Ananya Birla here, who has been making news across the globe for all the right reasons!
From the time she has made a choice to pursue her dream in music industry, she has only been upping her benchmarks and creating standards for others to emulate. She is a young mind’s idol and every dreamer’s inspiration. She has become a catalyst in changing the dynamics of music industry globally, being a flag bearer for a country that has always been under-represented on the global platform.
We got a chance to know her more and dig deeper into what Ananya Birla is all about. While a lot about her is known, there are still facets of her personality that very few would be aware about. Here are the excerpts of the discussion:
You have a huge followership be it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. How does it feel to be in that zone? What is a day in life of Ananya Birla like?
It feels overwhelming to have so much love coming in and to see that people are connecting with my music.
As for my usual day, I wake up in the morning and do my vocal lessons with my coach Samantha Edwards. After vocal lessons, I usually go to studio for performance rehearsal post which we do a technical rehearsal, if a show is coming up. I usually try to squeeze in a quick workout in between too! On days where I don’t have training, I set up meetings for my entrepreneurial ventures. By the end of the day I’m so exhausted that I end up sleeping very early. It’s a lot of fun and sometimes a bit hectic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
With music, business, performances, we are sure that personal fitness is bound to be a priority as well to keep her going!
While it is known that you are from a very renowned business background, little is known about your music education. We would like to know more about that? Who has been the mentor and teacher for you?
Not many people know this, but my family is very music oriented as well. My father sings very well and my mother plays santoor. So as a child, I too started learning santoor at the age of 9. That was how I was formally introduced to music. Thereafter, music has been all around me at all times. I’ve taught myself guitar and piano too.
I get my business acumen from my father – so he’s a mentor to me. I get my strength and ability to love unconditionally from my mother – so she’s a mentor to me too. I am blessed with a lot of beautiful people who inspire me and make me want to work harder and harder.
With all the inspiration available within the household and around, one really doesn’t need to look for it outside!
Every musician has influences from others. Who are your prominent influences from the present and the past? Which were those musicians who actually moved you to music as your passion and then eventually to a career?
Kurt Cobain is one of my musical heroes. I strive to create an individual connection whenever I write a song. Kurt had this rawness and vulnerability which helped him to resonate with all types of people from across the world, even now. He had a particular gift of connecting with the emotional experiences of young people, he was the voice of a generation. So yeah, I’d have to say Kurt Cobain. And Eminem – I absolutely love Eminem too!
Kurt Cobain and Eminem, two of the world icons who have inspired generations. No wonder they have had influence in the next Big Thing in the global Music Industry too!
There was one Facebook post of yours on 30th Dec 2016 where you wrote “Progress!! From being shy and singing at gigs to travelling across the world to record and release my debut single! An absolutely unforgettable journey!” We would like to know more about this journey of yours?
My journey has been absolutely amazing and it’s still only the start! I have always loved music and have been singing and playing instruments for as long as I can remember. I decided to make it a career when I was studying in the UK. I would go to random gigs around London every weekend and, however small the audience was, it would make me feel better. I knew that this life was what I wanted to devote myself to.
Eventually, I was approached by Universal Music India. I remember being so nervous when I pitched my music to them. I performed an early song of mine called ‘I Don’t Want To Love’ and they responded really well and signed me. That was a turning point in my musical career.
There have been some challenges along the way, but nothing worthwhile ever is ever easy. My debut single was generally well-received but I also received some criticism. It comes with the territory but it is a difficult hurdle to overcome. I have a load of music coming out in 2018 and will begin touring!
Shortly told story but conveys the message effectively. Being a global figure will invite both praise and criticism, the good news is, though, we will see more of her music coming along. We would need Ananya Birla to continue her journey unfazed by the criticism as it only means that people want her to do even better!
When you decided to take music as your career, what was the benchmark you had set for yourself? How much of that do you think you have already achieved?
I am always looking to raise the bar. My second single ‘Meant To Be’ went platinum so I think that was great achievement! There is definitely a lot more to come and hopefully one day I can create a platform for musicians from India!
No prizes guessing this answer, knowing very well by now that Ananya’s drive is to keep getting better and keep creating new milestones!
Meant to be released in 2017 and has been classified as a Platinum by IMI. This makes you the first Indian singer to have an English single to go Platinum. How was the overall process of making the song? Did you ever think it will reach this scale of popularity?
I love songwriting, it’s a very cathartic process. The best part was coming up with the drop. “Mean to be” is about an experience that I went through. It’s about two people who think that they’re meant to be with each other but life takes them on their own ways for some reasons. So I truly think that certain things in life are just magical and they may not have a reason to the human eye but they’re meant to be for a higher purpose. The process of writing this song turned out to be much smoother than I anticipated. I thought it would be loved and received well but I did not envisage this scale ever! Usually when I write my music I try not to think of the outcome.
But now that the song is a Platinum, we would only want the others to be in the same breadth too. Some performance pressure is a good pressure! LOL
You have done quite a few shows ranging from pub gigs to massively crowded events. Which is that one gig/show of yours that is closest to your heart and why?
Every performance holds a special place in my heart. But I’d have to say it was my first ever gig at this local pub called Gigalum while I was studying at Oxford. That was where it all started for me!
To us this answer reflects the emotional side of Ananya. Largely we would hear some of the biggest gigs as the memorable ones, but this one coming from her surely tells that her heart is at a right place!
What are your next few projects that you are working on now?
There’s a lot happening in terms of both my businesses and my music. My focus right now is mainly my music though. I want to continue releasing music. I want to tour around the world and show that India can produce a successful, global musician. I am also a big believer that everyone can, and should aim to, leave the world a better place than they find it and music gives me this platform to connect with people and I wish to continue doing that.
Kudos to the thought, vision and the efforts being taken in that direction. And of course, we would love to hear more of her music for sure!
The Music Culture in India is fast changing. What are your views on the way you see this industry shaping up? What can be the key catalysts to speed up growth in this segment?
Although the music culture in India is growing at a fast pace, I feel the live music scene can still become so much better. Artists should promote other artists and that’s how we will grow together.
Can’t agree more to it!
One of her latest songs “Hold On” has bettered her previous hit “Meant to Be”. Already touching 7 Million views on YouTube, can you tell us about the song and the inspiration behind it?
My latest single “Hold On” was out on 1st March 2018. The song is inspired by individuals who have gone through adversity in relationships but upheld their faith in trust and love. Sometimes in life, we are often faced with hard decisions such as holding onto relationships that no longer serve us or entangling ourselves with those very relationships.
From “I Don’t Want To Love” to “Hold On”, Ananya Birla has been one force that has not just kept moving on, but also has raised her benchmarks every time she has created new music. The kind of music she creates and the kind of thought process she has, it is very evident that she is all heart. We have had musicians in the past who have created their names in the world but the scale at which one can be called a global icon is still missing. The new age thought complemented with the new age talent can do wonders. This is what Ananya Birla has set out to achieve. We need her to continue her journey as she represents young, talented and confident India that is set to take on and eventually take over the world!
Article by Deepak D.