Vidya Vox calls her music a reflection of her personality

Mashup artiste Vidya Vox  gives a lowdown on the single, her music, which is a reflection of her journey, doing covers, and more 

How was the Pongal anthem Kaakarattan conceived? 
We wanted to meld a folk-style song with a dash of modern flair. The arrangement and production of folk instruments, such as nadaswaram and thavil, juxtaposed with acoustic guitar and drums are the perfect mix of traditional, yet modern. It was a great experience collaborating with Rajalakshmi and GV Prakash. They are gracious collaborators and open to ideas.

Any fond Pongal memories that helped you during the making of the song?
My mom and grandma churned out an elaborate spread for breakfast comprising sakkarai pongal, ven pongal and chutney. My grandma makes an offering of sugarcane, turmeric, coconut and fruits to the sun god, which is followed by bhajans. The making of the video brought back memories from childhood.

Is your music a reflection of your journey growing up abroad where you had a difficult time embracing your roots?
It was tough because I never saw someone that looked like me in mainstream media. It wasn’t until college where I joined dance teams that I felt okay to show my culture in the daylight. Until then, I expressed myself behind closed doors. I’d be singing Carnatic music at home and listening to Backstreet Boys en route to school. The music is a reflection of who I am, where I eventually realised that both parts of me can co-exist and that they are not mutually exclusive.

How challenging was it to connect to the intricate roots of India?
It wasn’t very challenging, honestly. At home, my sister and I grew up learning Carnatic music, singing bhajans and listening to folk songs. The biggest reason I wanted to add those songs to my music was to showcase my roots, and for people of all languages to hear them.

How has life changed since Closer/ Kabira?
There have been a lot of ups and downs. The song brought a lot of attention to my music. However, it also resulted in a lawsuit for doing covers so I had to delete that song (and 10 others) from my channel (music rights are complex, however, I think people have figured it out a bit more now). I took it as a sign to largely only do original music, and that has fulfilled me so much as an artist. I felt targeted at that time, however, I think it was a great push forward to explore my own sounds and compositions more deeply. It’s been a great ride, I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons but I wouldn’t take it back for anything!

Among all the mashups that you have done, which was the most demanding?
I think all of them had their challenges in some way —  either audio or video. Sometimes, the flow might not work and Shankar Tucker, who produces the songs, will have to fine-tune the instrumentation to make it seamless. Sometimes video shoot locations are difficult, we would hike up the mountains with equipment in full makeup.

Do you think when you predominantly do covers, your compositions get underplayed?
It depends. Getting traction on original songs is quite difficult, as it requires a lot of marketing support and videos, etc. While social media has democratised the playing field, the landscape is different now. So covers can be a good way to get your name in the door, and explore a variety of different styles, especially if your take on a cover is unique. It’s important to release original music alongside if possible, so that an artiste doesn’t get pigeonholed just for covers.

At a time when the attention span of the audience is diminishing, how challenging is it to stay on top of the game?
Unfortunately, the current landscape pressurises artistes to churn out content and songs. It’s difficult to keep up with it. So, I have stopped trying. I want to believe that it’s okay to take time away from social media, work on your art and release it when it’s ready.

Celebration of plurality in music has now become a common affair. What do you think has spearheaded the change?
The rise of social media I think for one has spearheaded the change. Audiences are able to celebrate artistes they love and seek out their niches and support those artistes. In turn, those artistes are able to make a living from it, and grow their artiste communities which leads to more people creating. Audiences aren’t only given a choice of a few songs now, they can listen to any type of music from across the world.

Artistes you would like to collaborate with in future? And your projects in the pipeline?
Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Drake, Shreya Ghoshal, KS Chitra and so on! My EP is releasing in a few months, it’s in the mix and master stage. I couldn’t be more excited!

You can contact the writer over email at and follow her on Twitter @psangeetha2112

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