September 23, 2020 9:32:54 pm
Singer Ananya Birla recently released her new single, “Let There Be Love”. The heartful song talks about her experiences during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
In an exclusive interview with indianexpress.com, Ananya opens up about what inspired her to write the single “Let There Be Love”, and her musical journey.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. When did you write and record “Let There Be Love”?
It was all done during the last few months in lockdown and inspired by everything that is going on around the world. I was supposed to be back in India. It’s tough being away from family and friends for so long. But that time and space really gave me the opportunity to focus on writing and developing new music. The process was different to anything I have done before because we had to do it all remotely. I got to learn so much about audio engineering and production which was great.
The pandemic has been such an awful time for so many people around the world, but it has also been a reminder for us about the things that really matter – the people in our lives and the love we have for them. That’s what it is all about. The good that still exists in these dark times, and the love and real connections is all that really matters at the end of the day.
Q. At 26, you have become a global music sensation. How does that feel?
If you told me back when I was doing tiny little open mic nights around London that this is where I would be a few years down the line, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I have a long way to go.
There are not many musicians from India who are working internationally in pop. My aim is to change that and show the world that we have so much more to offer. I really want to make India, and especially those fans who have been with me since day one, proud with what I am doing. Last week Sirius Hits picked up my song even before it released. It was surreal being the first Indian whom they have supported. To have them believe in me as an artiste has been extremely heartwarming.
Q. How were things when you started your music journey?
I have always felt most comfortable singing in English, perhaps because I think in English. For me, it was the most natural way to express myself.
Back when I started there were people who said there wasn’t an audience for the kind of music I wanted to make, and they tried to push me into different directions. But my vision was strong, and I refused to change for anyone. As soon as I was comfortable being unapologetically me, everything started coming together. I am so glad I stuck to it and that people are enjoying music that is totally me.
There is so much talent in India right now. We have seen amazing artistes from all genres – rap, electro, even folk music. All have started to get into the mainstream. It is really exciting.
Q. Tell us something about your music training.
I actually started learning the santoor around the age of 9. I was inspired by my mother who I used to watch play for hours. I still play it today and it is one of my favourite things to do to relax after a long day. I think learning it way back then, helped in my training immensely. When I got a little older, I taught myself the guitar with YouTube tutorials and started figuring out how to compose too. While I was at the University of Oxford, I would head to London every week and gig around the city.
I am always learning though. One of my favourite things about collaborating with other artistes is that you get to see the way they work and pick up different things from them.
Q. Are you open to Bollywood playback singing?
I love Bollywood. I think it depends on if I relate to the message of the song.
Q. Has the lockdown helped you write more songs?
I have actually written over 200 songs in the last few months. I converted a bedroom into a makeshift home studio and threw myself into creating with no pressure of a deadline or outcome. This gave me room to experiment and try out new things. It has been tough being away from home, but I am glad we were able to release a song during this time that hopefully can make people feel happy and loved.
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