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Anushka Manchanda on Nexa Music: ‘Expecting To Hear Voices and Sounds That Will Blow My Mind’

The singer will headline the talent hunt along with Indus Creed’s frontman Uday Benegal and singer-songwriter Nikhil D’Souza

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Feb 05, 2019

Singer Anushka Manchanda. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Mumbai-based singer Anushka Manchanda is a firm believer that India is filled with abundant talent. She says, “There’s no dearth of talent in this country.” Manchanda – who was recently announced as one of the headliners for the country’s latest English music talent hunt, Nexa Music — talks to us about India’s independent scene, her message to women artists applying for the contest and more. Excerpts:

Why do you feel we need a talent hunt for English language music creators in India?
English independent music has it tough in India. Bollywood music rules the charts, and even the music labels putting money behind creating and promoting non-film songs are pushing them in Hindi or Punjabi. There are not enough venues for bands and artists, and even when they do play venues… the payment is poor. Electronic dance music is doing well, but if you are a singer-songwriter or a band, the options are scarce. And so there is a need for a platform to take this talent and broadcast it. That’s what Nexa Music will do.

What do you feel is lacking most in the indie music ecosystem in India?
A solid platform and some cold, hard cash. Labels spend anywhere between 30 lakhs to 1.5 crore and more to push commercially viable songs. The English indie scene doesn’t have even a quarter of that kind of backing at the lowest end. There is real heart in the scene because people are doing this for love. So to me it feels like it is more wholesome than a commercial set up. Now if only their music and art could be promoted well!

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As someone who was chosen from a nationwide talent hunt, what is your personal mission at Nexa? Are you looking for a different voice, all-around musician, producer?
There’s no dearth of talent in this country… and I am expecting to hear voices and sounds that will blow my mind. Of course my interest is piqued when I hear something in the genre or zone that I am inclined towards. However I think honesty and authenticity is what I am looking for. An artist that stays true to themselves, not trying hard to imitate or present themselves in the way that is expected. You can see that shine through. Someone who is in music because it’s the only place they want to be. That means dedication and commitment and most importantly… hard work.

How according to you will Nexa Music help in popularizing the subculture of original artists creating music in English?
Everyone sat down together… A.R. [Rahman, composer], Samir [Bangara, co-founder of Qyuki digital media], Clinton [Cerejo, composer/producer], Nikhil [D’souza, singer-songwriter], Uday [Benegal, vocalist-guitarist of rockers Indus Creed] and I… and we spoke about how this contest should have no limits. We jammed to see what more we could add to this. There’s no drama or reality TV angle here. The thought is pure. And based on the past work that Qyuki has done, along with the stellar artists involved in this project I can safely say that Nexa is providing the artists the opportunity to work with some of the best and most experienced musicians in the country, along with giving them a platform. They are not being short sighted, and are talking about much more than what we heard at the press conference. It’s exciting!

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As a woman musician, what is your personal message to women artists applying to Nexa (in context of the fact that women continue to be underrepresented on stage and in the studio in India and globally).
I will say that this is a safe space. And there are, besides me, women like Juhi [Mehta] from Qyuki and a crew that has women members. If you have any doubts about anything… we are here to help and to protect you. Just talk to us. If you love music and this is what you want to do, then don’t let anything hold you back. This is your time to shine!

Entries for Nexa Music are being accepted until February 28th, time is running out – apply immediately.

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