"Don’t Take Criticism From Whom You Wouldn’t Go to Advise For.” - Maanuni

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1. Tell us about your background and journey?

My musical journey began really early in life. I started singing at age 2 and when my family noticed my inclination towards it, they put me in Hindustani classical vocals classes. I took those (majorly light vocals) on and off for about 5 years until I decided to shift to Western. 

A major reason was that I wasn’t taught in the right way, started to feel strained and lose interest in it and had been getting more influenced by English music, majorly from the Disney era and classics my dad would make me listen to). 

I started singing western and found my voice, ability, and happiness more fitting in that style than in Indian styles of music. I slowly started to sing more and more or it and finally started doing it seriously in junior college where I got all the platforms and opportunities. 

Winning almost every college festival, heading the music department in college, working on Bollywood films, doing a reality show, judging college festivals, winning scholarships, all of these experiences and experiences and opportunities have led me to become a growing musician and take music up full time now. 

2. When did you first decide, you wanted to pursue music and how did you start?

I guess my first ever dream at age 8 was to become a pop star. I remember closing my eyes and literally imagining myself on stage with spotlights and thousands of people in the crowd. Hannah Montana, High School Musical, and Demi Lovato were my biggest influences so I really wanted to bring that into my craft. 

I started just practicing all the songs from Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and many other pop singers’ discographies and then started to explore my own voice, texture, sound, detailing etc. I also started writing my own original music really young and exploring my song-writing.

I’ve been pretty much self-taught so starting out by myself and learning things on my own has been a really incredible experience which I now get to pass on to my students who learn vocals/voice culture from me. It took me 14 years to convince my family to fully support my music career and well, it’s absolutely great to have such incredible support coming in from their end.

3. Is formal training required or one can train oneself purely based on talent?

I have been a self-taught musician so one can navigate through it all and learn but that requires being very aware, passionate, doing research about using the right tools, understanding vocal health, etc. In such cases, formal training ensures certain safety nets. 

I was a full scholarship student at The True School of Music where I majorly understood professionalism, performance, and got in touch with the people working in the industry. 

Formal training will definitely make a huge difference but one can strike a balance between getting formal training but also figuring stuff that works for themselves specifically so that there are more growth and a better understanding of one’s uniqueness, finding their own sound, and originality.

4. What are the various opportunities available for an aspiring musician?

Right now, the independent music scene is really growing. There are massive avenues and options for musicians today where one could work as a producer/arranger, write and release their own music (solo, with a band, in collaboration), a lot of newcomers are also getting a chance to sing in Bollywood films which is something I’ve had the chance to do 4 times. 

Writing and singing for background scores of Bollywood films is a possibility that I have had the chance to explore. Being a sessions musician, playing corporate gigs, music festivals, etc are on a high. 

Doing ads, voice-overs, jingles, etc are also a great source of income for musicians. Today, music is so easily accessible and also easy to release that many doors open up if an artist has a plan of what they exactly want to do and achieve.

5. What piece of advice you would like to give to future and aspiring artists?

I’d say, just beat it. It’s not the rosiest picture and there will be tough times but your love and passion for the art should tower it all. There will also be a lot of criticism coming your way but I believe one thing which is “ Don’t take criticism from someone whom you wouldn’t go to advise for.” 

Having the right contacts is also a very important thing in the industry. Keep creating quality content, have your head in the right place, stay more connected to yourself and your art, and most importantly, have fun!

6. Who is your favorite artist and why?

Growing up I listened to Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato the most and even today, Demi Lovato has been my idol. I guess I can say she has been my virtual vocal coach cause I learned a lot of vocal techniques just by listening to her. The emotion, technique, and persona in her vocals are just so on point and she’s definitely someone I can really connect with.

I’m also really influenced by a lot of Hip-hop, RnB, Funk, Jazz, and world music, so I listen to many artists within those genres. Eminem, Logic, Joyner Lucas, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Michael Bublé, Jessie J, Melanie Martinez have had a huge influence on me and helped me become a much better songwriter as well.

- Maanuni, Musician

- Interviewed by Kedar Lalwani
- Edited by Shilpy Sharan
"Don’t Take Criticism From Whom You Wouldn’t Go to Advise For.” - Maanuni "Don’t Take Criticism From Whom You Wouldn’t Go to Advise For.” -  Maanuni Reviewed by Shilpy Sharan on June 30, 2020 Rating: 5

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