From the many voices arising in the Indian sub-continent, the 24-year-old Ananya Birla’s voice soars above most. Born as an heiress to one of the largest industrial tycoons in India, Ananya Birla chose to pursue her own passion instead–music. Her passion and dedication towards music made her the first artist performing in English to go Platinum, and she did this with just her second single “Meant To Be.”
Ananya Birla released the fifth single “Better” in January 2019, which was a personal thank-you note for people who have helped her become better during tough times. She premiered her latest single “Unstoppable” in March 2019, and is a dedication for “fearless women who are breaking down barriers and defying stereotypes to achieve incredible things.” These two singles follow her previous hits “Livin’ The Life,” “Meant To Be,” “Hold On” and “Circles.”
After releasing back-to-back singles in 2019, Ananya Birla sat down with Justrandomthings.com for an exclusive one-on-one to talk about her life before musical success, the inspirations behind her songs and her future plans.
(1) So, you signed your first record deal with Universal Music India in 2016 and released the breakout single “Livin’ The Life.” What were you doing before that?
It was so exciting to sign with such a huge label, but it was a massive shift to what I was used to! Before that, I’d been performing at low-key gigs and at random spots around London when I was at university in the UK. To go from that to working with this large, amazing team of people all of a sudden was pretty surreal, but it’s been great.
(2) You come from one of the largest populations in the world that speak Hindi as a native language. What made you publish your music in English? And were you nervous about English songs being accepted in India at first?
My first training was in Indian classical music, and I grew up listening to a lot of Hindi music so it definitely had a big impact on me. But English music is my calling, primarily because I think in English and it’s the easiest language for me to express myself in. I also really enjoy songwriting in English.
I was definitely a bit nervous starting out because of the dominance of domestic film music. But at the same time, I knew that there was an audience out there. It wasn’t easy breaking out, but my vision was strong, and I knew that to stand out I had to take a risk. Going platinum with 5 English language singles and reaching 150 million global streams definitely shows that people back home are hungry for more international sounds. With every passing day language barriers are being broken down. We can also see that with the success of Latin music crossing over across the globe.
I write or co-write all of my music, and it’s drawn from my own personal experience. While the topics are universal – love, heartbreak, isolation, friendship – the feelings in the tracks are all genuine. I want my audience to connect with my music on an emotional level, nothing makes me happier than when I read messages from people saying one of my songs made them smile or helped them to feel better about something they were going through.
(4) What was the inspiration behind “Unstoppable,” your latest breakthrough hit?
I released Unstoppable on International Women’s Day to celebrate women, not just in India but around the world, who are tearing down barriers and ripping up the rulebook that tells us we are ‘less than’. I want all women to be able to feel that their gender is a source of pride and
strength,and that they are in control of their own destiny .
My first EP is out next month. We have been working with collaborators from all over the world. There’s a track on it that I am super excited to share, which I have worked on with some amazing rappers from Nigeria.
(6) Any advice for the young and upcoming musicians and entrepreneurs of the world?
Trust your instincts – never let anyone tell you that they know better because they’re older or wiser or more established than you. That being said, don’t be scared to ask for help: sometimes the road to success can feel like the loneliest place on earth, and all it takes to change that is a phone call to someone you love. Finally (and most importantly) make sure you look after yourself. It’s easy to fixate on work, but nothing is worth risking your health over.
Anaya Birla was also named as one of GQ’s Most Influential Young Indians and also snuck into the elite list of Forbes India’s Women to Watch in 2018.
Stepping on her entrepreneurial instincts, Ananya Birla founded Svatantra Microfin at the age of 17, a finance company providing concessionary loans to women in rural India. In 2016, she founded and is the current CEO of CuroCarte, an e-commerce platform dedicated for luxury products.
A woman of a diverse portfolio of talents, Ananya Birla is spearheading in life in music and business. Stay tuned with
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