Interview: Ananya Birla talks about her debut EP and making music with Sean Kingston
The singer released her EP recently, and it has received positive responses from music lovers across the world.
Mumbai-born Ananya Birla is a musician, mental health activist and an entrepreneur — all at 24. The eldest daughter of Kumar Mangalam Birla (chairman of the Aditya Birla Group), Ananya created a space for herself in the growing Indian music scene by becoming the first homegrown artiste to go platinum with an English track, Meant To Be (2017). Being born into one of India’s most popular business families comes with a set of standards and expectations. But that didn’t deter Ananya. She rather chose to break traditions by not joining the family business and dropped out of the University of Oxford to follow her passion — music. She released her debut EP, Fingerprint, recently, for which she collaborated with international artistes including Sean Kingston of Beautiful Girls fame.
The four-song EP begins with the upbeat track, Blackout, which also features stellar sounds by Nigerian music stars Vector and WurlD. The melancholic Love Suicide, on the other hand, talks about toxic relationships, while All Night Long is a cheery electro-pop song — each track revolves around various phases of being in love and falling apart. Excerpts from a chat about her EP and music:
When did you start working on the EP? What makes it different from your previous work?
This EP is really authentic to me and my own experiences. It’s mostly about love — the good and the bad. I wanted to cover the holistic journey, from falling in love to heartbreak to reconciliation. I really wanted to make sure I gave it my everything and I am happy I was able to. Whether it’s a song like Love Suicide or All Night Long, they all are from personal experiences and the fact that people are loving it means even more! Unlike my previous singles, we played around with the genres here. It’s definitely pop, but there are some hip hop and electro too. I got out of my comfort zone, which is massively important for the development of any artiste.
What inspired you to compose Fingerprint?
The EP is raw and, like my music, true to my own experience. Over the years, I have realised that all my favourite artistes use their own life to feed and inspire craft — it allows audiences to connect with it on a much deeper level. That’s also why I called the EP Fingerprint, because it felt like I was sharing a part of my identity with the world. It is all about what it feels like to be in love, the giddy euphoric parts of a relationship, but also the awful bits too — the heartache and obsession of a toxic romance.
What was it like working with international artistes? Does it bring a global perspective to your music?
Totally! Everyone I’ve worked with has a different approach to making music, so I learned a lot. Working with artistes like Vector and WurlD, Mood Melodies from Oslo and Sean (Kingston) who is Jamaican, I was introduced to a different dynamic and establishing what will work for our respective fan-bases. It is of course about cultures coming together that is so beautiful. Teamwork is a beautiful process too, and when the final song comes about, it is very special.
I’ve been a fan of Sean since he did Beautiful Girls back in 2007, so I was thrilled to open for him in Goa. We agreed to meet up. After a day in the studio, we had a song that we were both really excited about. We are just doing the final touches and it’ll be out next month. I can’t wait to share it!
What’s the backstory of starting to make music? How challenging has the journey been?
Music has been a constant companion to me through good times and bad. I feel so lucky that I get to do it as a job! As a child, I would watch my mother playing the santoor and started learning it at nine. As a teenager, I started writing songs and taught myself the guitar too. Music gave me a form of self-expression and a sense of purpose.
There were definitely challenges in the beginning, but I wouldn’t change a moment of it. When I was in my late teens, I felt a lot of pressure to follow a ‘conventional’ career. I was in a constant state of fear, thinking that people wouldn’t like what I was doing. I knew people would also have some presumptions about me because of my surname. But I now take pride in being myself, unapologetically, and it makes me so happy that people appreciate that. My love for music and the love from my fans keeps me going and wanting to achieve more and become better every time.
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