The thing about being in a "creative field" is that you come to know and interact with a lot of talented, very creative people. And so many of those people are passionate enough, and indeed brave enough, to put their art out there. I will always be in awe of anyone who can do that, and so, I thought, maybe I could talk to a few artists I know and admire, and sort of get inside their minds a bit-who they are, how they work, especially in today's social media world. I don't know if I managed to do that, but I tried, and they certainly had a lot of fascinating things to say. I'll stop rambling and let them take centre stage now. This will be in a few parts, where in each part, I talk to a different artist.
My first interview is with a singer and songwriter I am a huge fan of, Mania.
Mania, my first question is, people have different passions, so how did you get into music?
Okay so, my father is like those parents who make their child participate in all the extracurricular activities even if the child is shit at them. So, I won my first singing competition in first grade without knowing that I could potentially sing. Till eighth grade, I participated in a few competitions not really keeping music as a priority, or, not really being "passionate" about it. The same year, my music teacher told me that I could REALLY sing after another competition I won without really wanting to WIN. So I was like, you know what, this shit makes me really happy and I want to do it for the rest of my life (a big part of the influence was One Direction and how I wanted to make girls happy like them and also be just as famous as them).
So, after getting influenced by One Direction, you realised there was only one direction in your life - making music. Okay I will stop making bad jokes now, and my next question is, do you think art should be personal, and if so, as a creator, how do you strike a balance between art being experiential and aspirational, if that makes any sense?
Art should be personal. Experiential and aspirational art- I believe there can’t be any gatekeeping when it comes to the creation of art in most cases, like, if I haven't experienced something that does not mean I’m unable to imagine it happening and write about. (I mean I can’t obviously write about serious things of which I’ve personally not been a victim of-- that's just insensitive). The power of imagination obviously has a big impact on your art. With that being said, it is also important for me to write and sing about things that I’ve experienced being a part of the LGBTQ+ community because it helps start conversations and give our issues and stories the recognition they deserve. I do try to write from experience but I also put in a little "how I’d like things to be instead" aspect into my music.
Looking back, are you a different person now than before you started doing music seriously, and if so, how has your music contributed to that?
I don’t think there’s been any change in my daily behaviour since I decided that I wanted to take music seriously, but the passion and hunger to do this real bad and make a name for myself is more than ever now. I’ve also learnt to keep a track of my growth as an artist and I just can’t NOT listen to random music and judge its musicality now.
I’ve also learnt to express myself better.
Would you like to elaborate on that?
Hmmm, I’m really shy and I don’t talk a lot, okay, so as I started writing music, I knew that was the language I wanted to communicate my thoughts in.
We see a lot of artists putting their stuff out on Instagram- whatever it may be, and, how do you think of Instagram as a platform for promoting and breeding artists, and art, so to speak?
A lot of artists post their art on Instagram but I personally do not think it’s the best platform for a local artist to grow. (Even though, I post my content only on Instagram as of now). The algorithm is gruesome, hard to crack and pretty unfair to small artists considering that the posts which are organically promoted are not able to do that well because Instagram cares too much about the people who pay for ads (I hope they don’t delete my account after this). They want you to post almost every day which might not be possible because I can’t be creative and motivated every day. It’s not like it’s impossible to grow on Instagram for a local artist (every third person calls themselves a content creator there) but you gotta learn all the tips and tricks needed to increase your engagement and that obviously takes time.
For my next question, you knew it had to be coming at some point right, so yeah. We are in the midst of a global pandemic right now, it’s been six, seven months into a lockdown, so what have you been up to in this time?
During lockdown, I’ve had the time to focus on my Instagram, post a lot of content, network with other artists and I’m just trying to establish myself as an artist on the platform at the moment. I’ve written a couple of songs and done a few cover series and I plan on shifting to YouTube soon. Just usual stupid local artist stuff.
And finally, is there any one song you’ve written that is your favourite?
The first song that I’ve ever posted on Instagram, soundcheck, is my favourite song I've ever written. It’s about being in love with someone's voice and it’s very special to me because I wrote that song thinking about my girlfriend, and the events described in the song are something I’d like to experience with her.
Mania is on Instagram @dykeraja. Follow them for some amazing content.
Ahan Sen is a Second Year student of Mass Communication at Symbiosis University, Pune. He is a self described film buff and also loves football. "I'm Bengali - it comes with the territory", he says.
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