Exclusive Interview with “Ananya”
When did you discover your love for your craft and what made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in it?
I’ve loved music since I was a kid. I grew up in quite a musical household, and it’s always been a huge part of my life. I started out playing the santoor which is an Indian instrument with a hundred strings, but branched off in my teens and taught myself guitar and learned how to compose. Music was there for me when I felt most alone and is the way in which I express myself.
When I got to university in the UK, I would spend weekends playing gigs at bars and clubs around London and I loved every second – even if the room was empty! I felt so alive, so complete – nothing else compared. That’s when I knew I had to drop out of college and take my music to the next level.
To what or whom do you accredit your sense of style?
I think my sense of style comprises what I am most comfortable in. I’m most comfortable in jeans, and I’m a true sneakerhead. I also love a good jogger set. I would say my style is a mix of high fashion and streetwear. I love to glam up every now and again as well. I love a good pair of heels and thigh-high boots.
Musically, my taste is a real mixed bag, too – everything from Kendrick Lamar to Eminem to stuff from back home! I inherited my eclectic taste from my parents, who always made sure we had very varied musical diets growing up.
Tell us about Everybody’s Lost and the feeling behind it?
Everybody’s Lost is is a super chilled track. It’s kind of a note-to-self – not to beat yourself up, not to measure your own success by someone else’s yardstick. Sometimes it’s okay to let loose and just enjoy the moment, even if that means a little hedonism every now and then. Even though it seems otherwise sometimes, we are all in the same boat, trying to figure this life out.
What are some the greatest challenges you have overcome in your musical journey?
When I was just starting out, I was told time and time again that there wasn’t an audience for the kind of music that I wanted to make. Back home, film music has always dominated the charts. No one in India was making English-language pop at the time and the execs couldn’t see my vision. But I stayed strong in my belief that music can connect with anyone no matter what language you are singing in. I’m so happy I did. Becoming the first Indian artist to go platinum singing in English soon was surreal.
I guess it was also tough to find my way when there weren’t really any artists who looked like me, making the kind of music I made. But it also gave me the freedom too, to kind of chart my own path.
As an artist from India, why do you think US audiences have connected with you?
Maybe they have connected to the honesty in my music; they have taken what I have sung about and made it their own and related with it. Everything I write is deeply personal, but it’s also about the kind of things that everyone has been through – heartbreak, falling in love, feeling lost.
What are your plans for the near future?
As we speak, I’m working on my album in Nashville. I’m so excited to get this work out into the world – some of the tracks have been four years in the making! I’m also crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to get back on the road this year. I’ve missed performing and the rush that comes with it, with all my heart.
How can fans find you?
ananyabirla on Instagram or check me out on Spotify,
What suggestions do you have for other artist like yourself?
Be yourself. Trust your gut. Always be authentic. Having said that, make sure you keep an open mind. Often the magic happens somewhere surprising.