Indo-Canadian artist, Neela, is rising to become an original singer-songwriter. Drawing from her North Indian roots, musical studies in Lucknow School of Music and jazz upbringing, her unique soulful voice has been compared to the likes of Snoh Alegra and Etta James. Her wide range, and smooth yet sultry vocal quality allows for versatility in styles ranging from R&B, Soul, Pop, Folk, and EDM. Born to an East-Indian family, breaking out of traditional expectations and pursuing a career as an artist held challenges of its own. Her persistence and dedication to her craft has not only won over her family’s support, but has got her noticed by industry insiders, including Slakah the Beatchild, Chin Injeti, and Akeel Henry, Grammy-award winning producers.
On the release of her latest track, ‘You’ll Never Know’, we had a quick interaction with her, here are the excerpts:
What inspired the song?
“You’ll Never Know” is a song inspired by domestic violence and abused boundaries. I wanted to transform this pain and turn it into music. It’s about people’s boundaries being violated-both physically, sexually, or otherwise-and how the other person will never know the damage they’ve caused with their actions. When someone has unhealed trauma the cycles of violence persist. Violence against women is prevalent and heart wrenching, I have witnessed and felt this in my personal life and globally 4.7 million women report sexual assault at least once in their lifetime. 1 in 3 women have reported physical violence by an intimate partner. In Canada and globally, I think of the murdered and missing indigenous women and children, and the lack of awareness this horrific issue receives.
Watch The Song Here:
Was there a specific feeling that you were trying to elicit in listeners?
My song is about empowerment and expressing anger & frustration with injustice. While the subject is sensitive and raw, I explore the other side of this pain; resentment, strength to move forward despite the hurt, and acceptance. These are just some of the complex emotions I express in this single.
Tell us about the recording process, heard it was real quick for a song this complex
Akeel, my producer, asked me to go into the recording booth, and we were both expecting multiple takes. But given that the song is so personal and raw, I sang it all the way through on the first go, and my producer said “That’s the take.” We both had goosebumps listening back, as painful as the experience was, I was grateful to be able to transform and release that energy.
What were the certain stylistic/production choices you made and why?
In this production we kept the vocals very raw. We didn’t want too many effects, and I think that the rawness of my vocals really speaks to the song’s message.
What are the descriptors/adjectives that best describe the emotion or melody in this song?
Pain, strength, power, anger, truth, raw, vulnerability, intimacy, passion, soul.
Can you provide further context around the visuals associated with this song, including any artwork or video?
The visuals were shot in India, where I am drawing from an Indian Goddess named Kali. I resonated with her because she is a symbol of ultimate power and change. “The Goddess is stated to destroy evil in order to protect the innocent”. In the music video, I battle Ravana; the King of demons in Hindu mythology who represents the demon in all of us and our duty to transform our fear into love. I drew from Kalaripayattu, which is an Ancient Indian martial arts practice, alongside women warriors, demonstrating our strength and resiliency. We are wearing the colour pink to honour the Gulabi Gang, which is a vigilante group combating widespread domestic abuse and violence against women.
Neela is bringing her truth and vulnerability, qualities that once made her feel like an outsider, in her music and songwriting to create original and honest material. With a background in theatre and dance, she brings an electric energy to her performances, the stage being one of the places where she feels most comfortable. Watch out for the song, it will surely have an impact!