The magic and sustained interest in music and creativity really began when I was left on my own to explore. No classes, no structure. I loved loved loved dancing. I would wear my mother’s makeup, wrap my grandmother’s single ‘chunni’ as a Sari around my tiny body and dance to my own singing in front of the long mirror in my parents’ room when no one was watching. I would imagine I’m putting on a show for thousands of people on a big stage. At the time I didn’t know that Bollywood actresses were lip syncing songs - and I’d imagine myself as one; singing and dancing and millions of people watching me on the big screen. I even prepared speeches for that imminent national award I was going to receive for best “singer-dancer” of the year.
Pleasantly intrigued by my seemingly spontaneous love for singing, my parents invested in an iPod and music system for me. I was 12. It was the best thing they could have ever given me. I was hooked. I sang all the time! It was amazing how steep the musical learning curve was for me within the next two years. Singing songs, and really having a hunger to be as emotive as the singers I was imitating was the most amazing learning. I sang Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, Jordyn Sparks, Regina Spector among many many others. I learnt how they use vibrato, how they emphasize words, about tone and texture, about belting, use of words and lyric. There was no computer at home to print lyrics, so I would sit alone in a room with my lyric notebook and in solitude, focus on the lyrics being sung and pen them down so that I could sing a long. This got me into really deep diving and unraveling the world of lyric writing and telling complete stories through a 4 minute song. I inhaled books in any case, and lyrics in songs were just icing on the cake.
After a few years I joined a school for music where I got into performance. Unlike most other people who get frightened performing for the first time, I had absolutely no fear. The music, even at 14, was so much bigger than me. I was so confident of my craft and being able to do justice to what I took on, that all I was feeling was excitement about presenting the music and having that shared thrill with my bandmates. At this music school that gave me my first stage experience, I also met the members of my first band. At 15, I joined ‘The Incredible Mindfunk’ which changed my life. We wrote original music together- my first ever experience in songwriting and collaborating with other musicians to create something original. It was thrilling and so fulfilling. We were performing at different venues in Delhi, I was learning about the ‘indie music industry’ in India, about gigs, promotions. I got to meet and play with some of my idols in the Indian Music Scene and even record our own album that launched only a year after I had been with the band. I was living a double life of going to school, studying regular subjects and taking exams and then going to my band mates home and writing music, rehearsing and performing at clubs and venues at night.
I really feel like the spontaneous joy of following something that occupies your whole mind and heart, that curiosity and hunger to recreate a song in your own voice that has touched you so deeply, being able to meet and interact with people who become so dear to you all because of your shared interest in music and the infinite world of its possibilities - is quite fascinating. Music has brought so much color in my life. So much has happened after that period of time. The music of different countries I have been exposed to and absorbed. The people I have met, the places I have been to, the decisions I have taken - all taking into account this one thing - Music- that has guided the trajectory of my life to this point, is quite insane to think about. I still have days of immense doubt and confusion, so many decisions to take within music itself, what do I want to do? Who am I? What do I represent? What do I want to say and create? How do I Market this? What do I do with the limited time on my hands?
So much to feel and not enough time to do something about each of the feelings. So much inspiration on one day, and feel totally drained and cynical the next. But, as cliche as it sounds, I don’t think I could ever not be a singer or a musician. As much as I would not like my identity to be defined and guided solely by music, I would feel completely devoid and strange to myself if it weren’t for singing and creating. And “music” – the whole diverse universe of experiences that that one word encompasses.