Ananya Birla talks about her love for music, family, ventures and more.
She is someone who is much more than just her surname. Meet 22-year-old Ananya Birla, daughter of Kumar Mangalam Birla, who is all set to turn into a popstar with her debut single Livin’ the Life. In an interview with The Asian Age, this young diva speaks her heart out. Excerpts.
Living the life
A mix of EDM and pop, Ananya’s international music track has been composed and written by her. Talking about the same, she explains, “Livin’ the Life is about celebrating life and spreading love and kindness around the world. I believe it is only when one comes out of adversity, that one starts to see real beauty. The song is all about finding who you are.”
The single is the result of Ananya’s year-long collaboration with American producer Jim Beanz, who has worked with international popstars such as Demi Lovato, Nelly Furtado to name a few. The duo recorded the track in a studio in Philadelphia. “I am following my dream. I’ve always loved music and believed in making music,” gushes the songstress.
Love for music
Ananya’s rendezvous with music began quite early. She played the santoor and guitar while growing up, and counts The Fray, Ed Sheeran and Cheryl Cole as her musical inspirations. She quips, “I started writing poetry when I was 12 years old and also undertook vocal training since a young age. However, it was only during my time at the University of Oxford did the musician in me came alive. Singing while playing my guitar at live gigs became a regular occurrence, so much so that in two years I had performed at over 70 gigs, in short — I found my calling.”
The songstress also has a unique personal way of creating a track: “I write the words first and then chalk out the melody on my guitar,” she says, adding, “They are (songs) mostly about my own experiences — meeting someone new, going through tough situations, etc. I also love writing about other people’s experiences. It feels different yet good to put yourself into someone else’s shoes for a change. I feel as an artist it helps me evolve and grow.”
The artist shares that her mom played a great role in shaping her initial years and made sure that Ananya was always busy learning something and doing something constructive. “From Lego to puzzles, sketching, calligraphy, learning to play the santoor to activities like learning table tennis, swimming, playing football, etc. my early years were busy,” points out Ananya.
She adds, “I feel because of all that (earlier days) I am now tuned in such a way that I cannot sit idle for more than a day.”
Speaking about opting to be homeschooled from the age of 16, the artist says, “Proper utilisation of time was one of the prime reasons for this decision. I used to leave for school around 6 am and landed back home by 4. I felt, I was not getting enough time to do other things. While homeschooling, I used to start early and finish my studies by 1 pm. Hence, I got ample amount of time to explore new avenues. This coupled with my passion for start-ups made me start my own company Svatantra as well.”
This fifth-generation entrepreneur from the Birla clan, started her first venture (Svatantra) at the age of 17, a microfinance company providing affordable financial and non-financial solutions to rural women using technology. “I just follow my heart. Beside this venture, I also run an e-commerce website promoting artisans while trying to reach out to the urban audience.”
For the society
The young entrepreneur also runs a mental health awareness initiative along with her mother called MPower. “A very large segment of the Indian population suffers from mental illness and still nobody addresses these issues openly. I was shocked when I found out that India had one of the highest suicide rates in the world. My initiative aims to reach out to people feeling anxious, depressed or troubled and help them feel alright,” she reveals, adding, “Creating awareness was the first step towards getting people to recognise mental illness and encouraging them to get help. We have also set up a holistic centre where young adults can get help through different therapies. It’s a very special project for my mother and I. We are very passionate about the cause and work as a team.”
Over the next five years, she plans to grow her businesses with an aim to be recognised as a successful singer/songwriter.
“You need to accept yourself for who you are. The idea is to create a platform and reach out to people through a business that is both profitable and sustainable. Over the next five years, I want to reach out to as many people as possible through my business ventures. My other goal is to be recognised as a successful singer/songwriter and touch people’s souls.”
Elaborating about her life’s philosophy, she concludes, “It’s about being brave, courageous, perseverance, and following your heart. You can be number one at anything by following the aforementioned.”