Neethusha is a singer/songwriter from India, who has been performing with her band all over the country for over 6 years and is now releasing her original music videos. She can ultimately be described as a hybrid of all of her favorite artists including Coldplay and Savage Garden, to solo female artists like Shania Twain and Celine Dion. She had originally embarked on a career as an engineer in the Bangalore office of Deloitte. This seems like its a far distance from singing and performing on stage. But that was not a life that she felt she had intended for herself, so she followed her heart and took her passion out to the world.
What would you be doing today if not for this interview? Where do you perform or sing? When did you realize you wanted to be a singer? When did your singing career begin?
Well, we are all acquainted with the current status of the world- lockdown! I have been using this time wisely to focus on a lot of things I otherwise don’t get the peace of mind to do. I have been spending a lot of time reading books on personal growth, taking a few courses online that I have always wanted to. I generally perform with my band for corporate events within the country- I seem to have developed a niche there over the last few years.
I started writing songs at the age of 14; at the time I had no idea I would get the opportunity to pursue my dream of being on concert stages, coming from a conservative place and community. My journey started after I moved to Bangalore for work and approached my office band to be a part of it; when people started to hear my voice, I slowly started getting more opportunities to sing. So roughly around 2011!
As a woman, how is the competition in your industry?
I believe regardless of whether you are a woman or man, you will find competition in this industry. Because you are up against other artists. But to answer your question literally, there are some fabulous female singers I have known and met in my life who constantly motivates me to work on my own skills. It’s all healthy competition!
What are the challenges in this career you face?
I think the first and the biggest challenge we face as independent artists, that too artists whose forte is singing in English, is that we do not have good, experienced and successful labels to back us up. We don’t have a proper system to push our distribution and promotions. Most of us are DIY musicians today, but after you have done everything possible within your limit, sometimes you need a framework or an external hand to push you forward further.
In India, music industry is more or less a subset of the film industry as every movie comes with 5-10 songs of its own. The push the film music gets is so aggressive that almost all other forms of music is just lost to the listeners. This is another obstacle we have been facing.
Thirdly, with the advent of myriad of social media platforms out there today, and any content having the possibility to go viral, for good or bad, it has become quite hard to stand out in the clutter.
Having said all that, all it takes is the willingness to KEEP working hard, the determination to never give up. Endure the struggle; I believe one fine day it will come through. I have had plenty of reasons to give up. I am still trying!
Which is the most standout event you ever sung at?
A couple. I performed at the Femina Style Diva, the Southern chapter in 2016 and for Flipkart Fashion conclave last year in September. Both were equally amazing experiences for me. My band also did a tour for HP, performing for 6 functions for them last year, this ended up being a long, exciting adventure for us!!
Who or what inspires the music that you play?
Celine Dion and Savage Garden songs were the first ones that really caught my attention- my God, their voices! Darren Hayes’ voice is so magical! I wanted to sing like them, emote the same way through my voice too. Bathroom singing started just around then! Other artists who influenced me are Shania Twain, Phil Collins and Roxette.
When it comes to my original music, I can get inspiration from anything at all. Of course, personal experiences in life matter a lot to the artist. Heart break songs are the easiest to write, are they not haha? I have written one of my best songs out of sheer boredom. The melody, hook line, lyrics and theme of the song just danced in my minds eye and took its best possible shape in just a matter two hours.
These days most of the songs I write are positive and motivational ones. The world needs more of this kind.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself traveling worldwide to perform at various music festivals. Having a fanbase across the world after finally having put out all my original content. Life will be much easier; surrounded by friends, family and success all in the right measures!
Any words of advice for upcoming young women artists?
Never give up! If you have taken the risk and that big leap of faith to step into this industry, it will definitely get you somewhere depending on how much effort you put in, how much faith you have in yourself. Most people give up at a point, where if they had only held on for a little longer, they would have found their success!
And I always tell people, you can never please everyone in the world. Let that sink in. Now take your dreams forward.
Have you composed any songs?
Several, two of them are out on my YouTube channel: Why Did I Lose You and Zara Sa.
I have performed a few more on TV for a Kerala channel – KappaTV. You can check my performances on their YouTube channel- musicmojo.
What genre of songs do you sing?
Generally speaking, I am a popular music artist. I make songs from soft ballads, to dance to soft rock/rock. Whatever I would feel like at the moment. I like to think of myself as a multi-lingual multi-genre artist.
What is one attribute of this industry that is a boon?
Isn’t having the freedom to express yourself a blessing in itself? Artists can never undermine that. You basically channel the emotions within you and share it with the world. I am grateful there is always a part of the world who has ears for an artist.
What is the one attribute of this industry that is a bane?
The industry is still looked down upon by many in our society, even the educated ones. Things are changing, though changing slowly. I think the change begins with us and what we will teach our children.
Why did you choose this career? Do you think there are other reasons to choose too?
Sometimes when you realize what your true calling is, there is nothing much you can do to stop that desire from being unleashed into reality. It is like an itch that needs to be scratched constantly. When I could no longer sit back and ignore that weight in my heart, I just decided to dive headfirst into music blindly. I wanted people out there to listen to my music. That’s plainly it.
And how is the support from industry peer's?
Most of us go through the same struggles. As in any person’s journey, you meet all kinds of people but it is your response to these people and situations that defines the pace of your growth. I am fortunate enough to have met a lot of good people in my journey who have shared their valuable insights with me, some became great friends with me too!
With time, I have seen people change, there is a wave of support that I see today sweeping through the community. Artists are beginning to realize that we need to keep our ego aside and uplift each other, lend a helping hand as that is only the true way to empower ourselves- through each other.
So, thank you guys!