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Living the life

Photos: Pornprom Satrabhaya

It's typical nowadays to hear about an up and coming young artist, and if you think Ananya Birla is just another one of those, then you are sorely mistaken. True, the 22-year-old from India released her single, Livin' the Life back in November. But that's not all there is to Ananya. At 17, she founded Svatantra Microfinance, all the while studying at the University of Oxford and playing gigs. She also co-founded two other companies. The artist/entrepreneur was recently in Bangkok working on the remix of her single which is now out on iTunes and Spotify. Guru sat down with her to ask her some questions, while simultaneously feeling guilty that we haven't done half as much with our lives.

How've you found Bangkok so far?

I love it. It's really nice. I've actually been to Bangkok about two or three times before. I was here for the water festival with my friend and we had no idea what was going on. We were completely drenched. The entire street was just going crazy. Someone just came and poured a huge bucket of cold water over my head. It was insane.

How did you get into starting your business at such a young age?

I think India has a huge income gap. That prompted me to get into microfinance. As for my age, I think I have a lot to thank my parents for because they let me do what I wanted to do and they let me make my own mistakes. It would have been easy for them to just say, "You're too young. You need to complete your education." But they just told me to go for it.

It's sort of a jump, from being an entrepreneur to getting into music. What made you do that?

I've always loved music and I think I reached a point when I was in university where I said I don't want to leave this as a passion. I want to take it up as a career. I thought, instead of just being with my guitar for two hours a day, why shouldn't I be able to wake up and have the entire day be about that?

When do you plan to release a full album?

There will probably be three singles first to establish my sound. Hopefully, by summer, I'll start working on it. So by the end of 2017, I'll have an album, or an EP, at least.

Who are your musical influences?

Kurt Cobain. I absolutely love him. Ed Sheeran, I love the way he writes music. I love Ellie Goulding's voice. I like different people for different things.

If you had a chance to collaborate with any artist, who would you pick?

Eminem.

How do you juggle your music and your businesses?

Number one is that you have to have an amazing team which I feel really blessed to have. You need to be able to trust them and feel comfortable around them. Number two, the businesses are pretty much set up, so I've delegated daily work to the COOs. I'm just looking at it strategically and making the main decisions, so it's not as crazy as it actually seems.

What was the craziest thing that ever happened while you were on stage performing back in the UK?

This very short and plump old man sort of just came up to me while I was singing. He just gave me a big kiss on my cheek, said something to me, and then walked off. There was also this one gig I did in a second-hand apparel store. There were racks of clothes everywhere and I was just on the side. I don't think anyone could even see me because there were so many clothes -- and there I was, just singing. It was probably one of the funniest gigs I've ever played.

Why did you choose to do the remix here in Bangkok?

The concept we had for the music video was to do something that goes beyond just what we see. I wanted to put in my imagination. And for that, it was important to have strong post-production. We found a great production house here so that's why we came to Bangkok.

What do you do in your downtime when you're not doing your business or your music?

I have a cute little dog. Her name is Sky and I love reading. So I'm probably in bed with Sky with a really cozy blanket and a book.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now, music is my prime focus. I just want to make music for the rest of my life. I guess the businesses will continue the way they are. We're also launching a t-shirt company very soon. Music and business, for me, are brilliant tools to reach out to as many people as possible. So I want as many people as possible to hear and relate to my music. I also want to be able to take Indian artists to a global scale.


Listen to Ananya's single, Livin' the Life as well as the Afrojack remix on iTunes and Spotify. Follow her on FB at www.fb.com/AnanyaBirlaOfficial and on IG at ananya_birla.

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