It is 10 pm in Los Angeles, where Ananya Birla is making music literally. Her latest single Let There Be Love has made it to the SiriusXM Hit list, in America.
During this telephonic conversation, the soft-spoken 25-year-old admits to being super grateful.
“I am happy to be able to release a track like this during the pandemic. It has only been a day since the song has released and it has all worked out for the best. We couldn’t do a music video so I wanted this animated video which was shot in India to be engaging, appealing to the eye,” she says.
Living away from her close-knit family comprising her parents Kumar Mangalam and Neerja Birla and siblings Advaitesha and Aryaman has been challenging.
It has made Ananya realise that, “Love is that one emotion that can bring us together during this time along with kindness and compassion. I moved to the US in September 2019 and it’s been almost a year now. Once the pandemic hit, the borders shut. I was pretty juvenile in my decision as I firmly decided that I will not go back home. It is a tough decision but I was strongly motivated to release this song. I knew my parents will understand. I miss them but I want to stay on and pursue my dreams,” she gets emotional.
Ananya turned creative with a vengeance during the lockdown period where she wrote 200 songs. “Aaron Pearce, a Grammy-winning producer sent me 14 songs, out of which I opted for Let There be Love. My strategic manager Greg Thompson pitched it to SiriusXM and it all just came together.
The song is currently climbing the hit charts ladder,” reveals Ananya, who dropped out of Oxford University where she was studying economics and management to pursue her career in music.
“This is what I want to do. I had gained everything from my university education. It doesn’t matter what subjects you opt for; it is how you apply it to life in general, I was studying economics and management at OU and I am applying those principles in my career today. It has worked out for me. Having said that, no matter what you do in life, a degree is very important. I have promised my mum that I am going to get a degree even if I turn 50,” she confesses.
Right now, it's music that makes her heart sing. It is perhaps this passion that prompted Greg Thompson Mavericks Management to sign her, making Ananya the first Indian to be represented by this company. Call it serendipity but she met her daily manager at Café Gratitude in LA. “We chatted for two hours and connected instantly,” she says.
Back home in India, Ananya is also an entrepreneur with her successful business venture Svantantra Microfinance. Has this taken a backseat now?
‘We got lucky even during this pandemic as it falls under the essential services business. So, we could resume operations. It is doing really well, touching a billion-dollar GRP. I had handpicked my team and, we have a strong vision in place. So, all I need to do is look at strategy and organise review meetings on a weekly or monthly basis. It does not take much time,” she adds.
While Ananya dreams of a Grammy nomination and making it on the Billboard charts, she is also a Mental Health Advocate. Along with her mother, Neerja, Ananya co-founded the Ngo Mpower.
“I was very involved with it but ever since I came here, I have not been able to give it time. What I do instead is to advocate my own experiences. I highlight the importance of self-care and the need to be there for people. I participate in various shows and panels and also use my music to promote mental health. This is a subject close to my heart and I often discuss it on my social media platforms,” she says.
Like most children from privileged homes, Ananya confesses to have been at the receiving end of unfounded criticism during her growing up years. And yes, she has also been trolled for her singing too.
“It used to happen a lot initially but now people have seen that I am working hard and are appreciating my talent. So, the perception has changed. But it is one of those things that I have dealt with since childhood. If I got good grades, they would say must be her dad and I would be like ‘does my money or my dad’s money study for me?’ The same thing happened when I won awards at swimming competitions. I would get similar reactions and I would be like ‘did my dad swim or did his money swim?’,” she recollects.
That is all in the past and it is evident that Ananya is in a happy space right now. She is consumed by her passion for her craft that she has no time for dating or romantic relationships.
“Right now, it is not even possible to do so and I have never really been into that sort of thing. I love music and I want to make India proud on a global level and I will not stop till it happens, I don’t think there will be a finish line. I have learnt to enjoy the journey and take it one day at a time,” she philosophises....