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Meet NEXA Music Top 24 Artist: Ankur Sarsiya

This Indore-based singer/songwriter started producing music back when he was in ninth grade, teaching himself the art with no formal training or classes

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Riddhi Chakraborty Feb 12, 2020

After foraying into singing via cover performances and videos on YouTube, Ankur Sarsiya began working on and releasing original tracks which he had written, composed and produced himself. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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For Indore-based singer-songwriter Ankur Sarsiya, the feeling of success after being shortlisted in the Top 24 of NEXA Music came from the pride he brought to his family. “My dad is a teacher and I felt something inside of me when I saw him smiling and flaunting about this,” shares Sarsiya, adding, “And my mom and sister… they are going crazy over it.”

Sarsiya started producing music back when he was in ninth grade, teaching himself the art with no formal training or classes. “Trial and error was my thing,” he says, adding, “Then practice and patience were the key. Eventually it all fell in the right place.” He later joined music maestro A.R. Rahman’s prestigious KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, diving deeper into sound production and engineering. Post his time at the institute, he went on to work on producing original music for various other artists, short films and jingles. However, there was a lot more he had to offer.

After foraying into singing via cover performances and videos on YouTube, he began working on and releasing original tracks which he had written, composed and produced himself. His first original track titled “Pulled Me Down,” marked the beginning of his journey as a solo singer-songwriter; it would be the track he would submit to NEXA Music–the nationwide hunt for English-language artists–that would eventually win him a slot among the competition’s Top 24. “It was a dazzling experience,” he says about participating in the initiative and being mentored by the likes of Rahman and celebrated composer Clinton Cerejo. “I got to know that my entry was shortlisted in the Top 135 for NEXA Music among more than 1000 entries, then further and finally the Top 24… I was overwhelmed. I literally had tears in my eyes. I was happy.”

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Sarsiya feels that a competition like NEXA Music can do leaps and bounds for artists all across India to be recognized–because while there are a lot of competitions and platforms for artists who perform original music in Hindi or other regional languages, the same is not true for the indie artists who sing in English. Sarsiya explains that more than anything else, NEXA Music’s goal was about making the concept of singing in English more mainstream and acceptable in the country. “I know that there have been [successful] bands and artists before NEXA’s initiative but that is the whole point; it was an underground scene.”

It’s been just a week since “Pulled Me Down” was finally released via NEXA Music on YouTube and already it has garnered over 400 thousand views, compliments flooding in from audiences around the country, with many wondering why they don’t see artists like Sarsiya more often. In addition to his success on YouTube via NEXA Music, Sarsiya went on to grace the cover of Rolling Stone India with A.R. Rahman and the rest of the Top 24 in December 2019. “I almost had forgotten about a sketch which I did around five years back, when my mom reminded me of it,” he recalls fondly. “It was the sketch of the logo my favorite music magazine Rolling Stone. Who knew I was going to be on the cover alongside the Nexa Top 24 artists and A.R. Rahman sir? For a guy from a small town of Indore and a family, who had been through a lot of ups and downs for being Dalit… it was a big deal. Hope is a good thing.”

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Sarsyia is currently working on two new tracks titled “Cyclone” and “Stupid Little Things”, both set to drop later this year. He will also release a music video for his upcoming Hindi song “Ek Adhoori Daastaan” by July.

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