Meet RITZ Magazine’s Frederique Constant women of the month who are not just living their passion, but loving every moment of it and are here to stay…
BY NAMITA GUPTA
Ananya Birla, singer and songwriter likes to live life on her own terms and not under the shadow of her father, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla. The sixth generation scion of the Birla family signed on Universal Music India and released her debut single Livin the Life and was the first Indian artiste to be released on PM:AM. Since then there’s been no looking back for the young songstress who released Meant To Be, which was certified platinum by IMI. Again, she was one of the few Indian artistes to do so with an English song in India and her song went on to scale the charts on Shazam’s ‘India TOP 100’ chart, iTunes India, Spotify and Apple Music playlists in the US, UK, Middle East and South East Asia and was listed in VH1’s top 10 list in India. Her fourth single is called Circles and is already making waves. A girl of many talents, a trained santoor player and a self-taught guitarist, she’s also an entrepreneur and a passionate mental health activist.
TURNING POINT: I’ve loved music since I was a child. It’s been an amazing companion for me through all the best and most challenging times in my life. When I was at university in the UK and decided to turn what I guess had primarily been a hobby into a career, it was one of the biggest turning points in my life. Nothing made me happier and I knew this was what I wanted to devote myself to but it wasn’t easy. In everything I do, I follow my heart, be it music, or in launching Svatantra or MPower (an initiative to support mental health in India and eliminate the stigma associated with it). Each of those things is incredibly personal to me, and I’m hugely passionate about all of them. It has never meant that I’m less invested in my other work though. People are so quick to label because it’s convenient to put people in a box – the entrepreneur vs the artist– but individuals have a range of skillsets and ambitions. I’m of the generation for whom career and identity are a lot less fixed; we don’t need to be branded as one thing or another.
PURE PASSION: When I decided to move into music, there was an expectation and pressure to do something more conventional, because I was studying economics and I had already launched my first business. I was also terrified of failing at the thing I loved most. But, deep down I knew that I wouldn’t be truly happy if I couldn’t give everything to the thing which sparked a fire in my soul. I know how lucky I am able to do it as a career, and I hope to do it forever. My aim with my music has always been to connect with people on an emotional level. That is why authenticity is key to the songs I put out. Each one is based on my own experience. I think audiences can tell when something comes from the heart. I try to read all the messages that I receive, and the most motivating thing is when I get messages from people who say that something which I wrote made them feel better about something they were going through. Music had a transformative effect on me in my growing up days, so even if it was just for one person, that I’m able to do the same it is incredibly moving and drives me on to do more.
HIGHPOINTS IN THE JOURNEY: Going platinum with my last three singles has been amazing. I was just getting my head around hearing myself on the radio, and that I have been able to reach so many people with my music so quickly has been a dream come true. I’m so happy that people are connecting with my music, and grateful for all the support. It’s been a rollercoaster, and I’m loving every second. In all of my ventures, music or business, I want to show people that they can break down barriers and stereotypes to follow their passions, achieve their dreams and make a positive impact. I’m a big believer that everyone should aim to leave the world a better place than they find it.
MESSAGE FOR WOMEN WHO ENCOUNTER ROADBLOCKS: Every girl is unique and amazing and has so much to offer. Life’s a journey, and there are moments where you believe in yourself and others when you don’t. There will always be roadblocks and challenges. But you need to remember that gender should never be a barrier and never to let anyone tell you who you can be. Try to always be the best version of your true self, work hard and stay committed to the things that excite you.
THE ROAD AHEAD: Off to LA now to put the finishing touches on my next song which is out in November and is a little more dance-y than my previous tracks with a punchier tempo, then an EP by the end of the year and lots of live performances in the meantime. We are also finalising the next MPower concert.