LISTED as one of GQ’s Most Influential Young Indians and Forbes’ Women to Watch, Ananya Birla is setting the bar high representing an exemplary code of conduct for all rising stars out there. Signed to Universal Music in 2016, her first five songs hit the 150 million mark on streaming platforms hitting the bull’s eye as India’s first homegrown artist to bag Platinum with an English language track in India — a country dominated by Bollywood music releases.
Ananya Birla is a versatile artists. Her collaboration with Afrojack, Jim Beanz and most recently Mood Melodies showed a diverse expansion of her pop repertoire, compared with the rise and early days of Bieber and Malone. Her latest single ‘Unstoppable’, inspired by her mother, offers a rippling movement that lauds female power in all its glory and featured Ananya’s mother Neerja Birla, as well as iconic influencer from the world of sports, entertainment, and fashion.
“I was inspired by my mom to write ‘Unstoppable’”
Music Press Asia: What’s it like to work with Mood Melodies?
Ananya Birla: Anders and I have had great chemistry and creative flow since day one, which is so important. Now that we’ve released four singles together, we each really understand the way the other operates. The songs we have worked on feel like a genuine collaboration; the amalgamation of both our creative energies. I particularly enjoyed building drops and layering the synths with him. He is a lot of fun to be in the studio with, I’ve actually nicknamed him Granny because he’s incredibly wise and feels like family!
It’s been pretty challenge-free. On occasion we have a creative block, but really that gives us both a chance to take a step back from a song, be subjective and come back to it with fresh eyes and ears.
Working with other people definitely takes you out of your comfort zone and helps you elevate a song to the next level.
(Notes: Anders a.k.a Mood Melodies is signed to MER, a Norwegian music company that specializes in providing label, content production, promotion and artist management services).
Music Press Asia: Were you also closely involved in the creative direction of the music video with Tim Nackashi?
Ananya Birla: Yeah, I’m involved in the creative process of everything I put out, from start-to-finish. I enjoy working on videos because there’s so much creative freedom to play with. I came up with the overall concept for the ‘Better’ video and then Tim was able to take that and transform it into something really cool. It was great working with him, we had a lot of fun. He gives direction without imposing on your style and I think that’s super cool.
MPA: What about your latest single “Unstoppable”, how did that come about?
AB: I was inspired by my mom to write ‘Unstoppable’ way back in 2015. The song means a lot to me and I was never sure about the right time to put it out. When I clocked that International Women’s Day fell in the gap between my last single ‘Better’ and my upcoming EP, which is out in May, it felt like perfect timing.
The song celebrates women coming together, defying gender stereotypes and breaking down barriers. I truly believe that your gender doesn’t define you and being yourself is what makes you unstoppable.
The video, which just came out, features 13 of the most amazing women I know, who have each overcome challenges and broken down society’s outdated gender roles to achieve awesome things. I really hope people feel empowered by the song and video, and that everyone enjoys it as much we did while shooting it.
MPA: You mentioned about ‘surrounding yourself with positive people…’ in order to brace and overcome hard times, physically and/or mentally. Share with us some of the most powerful success stories you’ve come across at Mpower.
AB: Just walking into one of our Mpower centres is a success story in itself. The stigma around mental illness in India is awful, so people are usually scared to reach out for help and the rates of depression and suicide are some of the highest in the world. It takes huge bravery for people to come forward, identify how they are struggling, and seek help. That is why it is so inspiring to see more and more people speaking out and ‘owning’ their mental health – it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
Click here to view Part 2 of interview with Ananya Birla — “Why Is Ananya Birla Not Your Regular Pop Star?”
Music video “Unstoppable” features Ananya’s mother Neerja Birla, as well as iconic influencer from the world of sports, entertainment, and fashion including fellow Olympian Mary Kom, film stars Juhi Chawla and Pooja Hegde, India’s icons Aparna Popat and Sania Mirza, model Gabriella Demetriades, TV presenter Anusha Dandekar, influencer Malini Agarwal, designer Falgiuni Peacock, singers Kanika Kapoor and Sukriti Kakar and choreographer Karishma Chavan, who also directed the video.
In March 2019, Ananya released single ‘Better’ via UMG and supported by Island Records UK, produced by Grammy-nominated Mood Melodies (Jessie J, Alessia Cara, Noah Cyrus), music video directed by Tim Nackashi (Sean Paul, Dua Lipa, Maroon 5).