Music show

Ananya Birla talks about musical spectacle, empowerment and success

Having already reached incredible heights in her musical career, Indian singer Ananya Birla continues to make strides across the world.

Born in Mumbai, India, Ananya developed a desire for music at an early age. Although Ananya didn’t realize how deep her passion was until she enrolled at the University of Oxford, London.

The studies of economics and management did not meet Ananya’s aspirations nor did they use her creativity.

Therefore, she decided to leave the impressive institution and establish herself on the London music scene.

Although Ananya’s birthplace is India, she surprisingly stuck to singing in English. It was there that she felt more comfortable and more expressive.

It was this musical feat that ignited her as she produced her hit single in 2017, “Meant to Be”. This track made her the first Indian artist with an English single to go platinum.

A feat of this magnitude caught the attention of legendary British rock band Coldplay. She supported them at the Global Citizen Festival the same year.

Accumulating other platinum records such as “Hold On” and “Better”, Ananya solidified as a singing sensation.

Ananya’s musical accomplishments led to her being signed by Maverick Management.

The Californian company deals with the monumental artists of Madonna, The Weeknd and Brandy. This meant that Ananya was in the company of the musical elite.

At only 26 years old, Ananya has already had several platinum records, worked with artists like Afrojack. She is also a focal point of the hugely popular television show, Indian pro music league (2021).

The show is the first of its kind with six teams representing six regions of India. They participate in a musical championship.

Ananya has her own team on the show, the Bengal Tigers of the Ananya Birla Foundation.

The reality show is just another example of Ananya’s unparalleled professionalism. Her team is dedicated to the charitable work she does for women and mental health.

His belief in the power of music brought about tremendous change in India. She hosts concerts in Mumbai to help her mental health organization, Mpower.

Mpower is a fascinating movement that aims to eradicate the stigma associated with mental health. It also provides significant resources and freedom to those in need, especially in India.

Ananya’s other company, Svantantra, which means ‘freedom’ in Hindi, was started to fill the income gap in India, focusing on financial solutions, mostly among women.

Having battled depression herself, these philanthropic efforts are made to provide more opportunities and platforms for women who will impact future generations.

Drawing heavily on her mother, Ananya says:

“Her compassion, strength and dedication to making a positive difference in everything she does have always inspired me.”

In addition, she always lived according to her mother’s advice:

“Do my best and leave the rest.”

Embracing her mother’s words and South Asian culture, Ananya embodies the Indian work ethic, flourishing both in and out of music.

In 2019, Ananya collaborated with popular American singer Sean Kingston for their track “Day Goes By”, which debuted on Billboard. It was another first for an Indian artist.

Her angelic tones, uplifting lyrics and infectious personality emerge from her songs and performances.

As her musical status progresses, Ananya talks exclusively with DESIblitz about her success, her plans and her future ambitions.

When did you first get interested in music and why?

Ananya Birla on Pro Music League, empowerment and success - birla baby

Music has been a part of me for as long as I can remember.

In fact, I trained in Indian classical music, playing santour. It is an instrument with 100 strings that rest on your knees.

It is not the easiest introduction to music, but it has made learning the guitar, piano and composition much easier. It was when I was a teenager.

When I got to college in the UK I would spend the weekends playing in bars and clubs around London and, whether I was playing in front of ten or a hundred people, I loved every second.

“I felt complete, like I had found my purpose, and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.”

So I dropped out of college and brought this passion back to India where I made a career out of it and started releasing records.

When you recorded a song for the first time, how did you feel?

The first song I recorded, I actually never released.

It was called “I don’t want to love”. This is the song that made me sign with my first label.

My songwriting journey started from poetry to lyrics, to a strumming on my guitar, then hearing it play for the first time is an indescribable feeling.

Maybe someday I’ll release this song. Right now it’s like the front page of my journal. I keep it sacred because it is very close to my heart.

Do you think singing in English has brought you more success?

Ananya Birla Talks Pro Music League, Empowerment & Success - birla dress

At first, certainly not. When I started, I was told that there was no audience for the kind of music I wanted to do.

With us, Indian film music has always dominated the charts.

It was a bit of a challenge at first as no one had really diversified into the English music space at the time. Besides, people couldn’t really understand the passion I had for it.

Looking back, I’m really happy that I stayed true to what I believed in and stayed true to the music I wanted to make.

Becoming the first Indian artist to go platinum singing in English soon after showed that I was right to follow my heart.

For me, it was pretty straightforward. I find it easier to express myself in English. My music is me doing my best to express my thoughts and share a bit of my heart – this has always happened in English for me.

Who knows, I might surprise you with some Hindi songs soon.

How does it feel to open the India Pro Music League? How did you choose the song?

It was unbelievable.

Two years ago, I discovered the concept of the league. I found it absolutely brilliant; nothing like this has never been seen before.

My family is from Kolkata, Bengal, so I decided to become the owner of the Bengal Tigers team. I am so proud of my team; Shaan and Akriti have been amazing.

Usually I don’t play in Hindi so it was really different, but I really wanted to support the team.

I chose the song “Kaise Paheli Zindagani” because I think it’s a classic and the jazz swing in it is something I really enjoy.

What makes a good song?

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I think it’s relative. For me, authenticity is the most important thing, no matter what genre you work in.

When a song is honest and comes from the heart, listeners experience it intimately and connect with it on a much deeper level.

“They feel what you feel, they come on a journey with you.”

Some of my favorite artists, Eminem, Bazzi, Beyoncé and Kurt Cobain all make very different music, but I love them all. It’s because of how honest, vulnerable, and raw their songs are.

For me, there is no better feeling than when someone reaches out to say that they are connected to something in my music.

Whether it helped them get through something they were going through, made them feel less alone, or just made them smile.

As an Indian artist, what challenges have you encountered?

There is always an expectation for women in music to match traditional beauty standards.

Women in the industry don’t always have to feel perfect. They should be comfortable being themselves – that’s what audiences connect with.

It’s about believing in yourself, not letting other people’s judgments affect you, and accepting your flaws and differences – easier said than done!

“Things are improving, but the pressure is still there.”

However, more and more women are realizing that they don’t have to follow set rules and that they can do whatever they want.

They can see the importance of breaking down barriers and things move forward accordingly.

How does Maverick Management help you?

Ananya Birla opens up about Pro Music League, empowerment and success - studio

Almost exactly a year ago, I went to the Grammys and chatted with Greg, the president of Maverick.

I knew right away that I had found the mentor I was looking for: we just clicked, in that funny way people do – he really understood what I am.

Maverick is an amazing agency. He works with artists like The Weeknd, Miley Cyrus and G-Eazy.

I stopped by their offices a few days later to discuss what we could do together, and I was so drawn to their experience and their passion.

I feel so lucky to have them in my corner. We have big plans for 2021, so stay tuned.

What are your ambitions?

Outside of India, most people think of Bollywood film music when they think of music in India.

I want to be part of the generation of young Indian artists who are overturning this stereotype.

Most importantly, I want my music to be able to connect with people, so that someone feels less alone. This is my ultimate goal.

Ananya Birla talks about musical performance, empowerment and success - smile

Having performed in some of the most distinguished musical events such as Oktoberfest and Sunburn and touring with artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Ananya has no plans to stop her growth.

The many genres that Ananya has incorporated into her music have been impressive.

From jazz to Hindi to reggae, Ananya continues to push the boundaries for herself and for future Asian artists.

With many accolades and continued progression within the music industry, Ananya still hasn’t forgotten her Desi roots, saying:

“I love a good masala chai, I can’t do without ‘ghar ka khanna’: comfort food, pure and simple, and I love Bollywood and Sufi music.

Ananya begins to solidify as a woman of talent and change.

Even though her music career catapulted Ananya to stardom, she still made incredible inroads with her organizations.

It’s not hard to see why Ananya was named one of GQ’s most influential young Indians in 2018.

Her majestic voice has soothed millions of people around the world. Her humble demeanor and fight for equality highlighted Ananya’s appetite to change the world.

It is this hunger and positivity that has brought Ananya so much success so far and will continue to bring.

Ananya’s moving music and amazing projects can be heard here.