Born in India, raised in Australia and already on the five-star singles path, ASHWARYA is one of the hottest new bands.
Words: Finlay Holden. Photo: Gadir Rajab.
Among the overwhelming swarm of new pop artists arriving in 2021, trying to stand out can be a daunting prospect. But that’s not a problem ASHWARYA faces, an aspiring star of Indian descent and raised in Australia who has captured the hearts of many with her dark and twisted hyper-pop anthems. Following her debut in the EP, she chats with Dork from her bedroom about creating art in confinement, its varied influences and, of course, his unbridled ambition to simultaneously provide comfort and surprise on scale. global.
One of the big goals of your music is to connect with people – do you feel like you got to do it online?
Absolutely. Before releasing music, I never really understood the impact it can have on people and how they perceive it in their own way. It wasn’t until songs like ‘BIRYANI’, after which I got SO MUCH DM, that it hit me. In an ideal world, we would play and meet live and connect through chat, which obviously wasn’t an option at the time. I’ve received so many messages from people of color and South Asians, and as someone passionate about performance, it has completely changed my perspective on the impact music can have. Especially when someone who looks like me comes out with a bilingual Hindi song about “Biryani” – it’s amazing.
When did pop first come into your life and why did you get into this genre?
I listened to old Bollywood music from the 80s growing up, and then I was introduced to the ‘So Fresh’ CDs, and bought them every month. They always had a new tracklist of pop, R&B, hip-hop; all popular songs at the time. I was obsessed with Rihanna after that. I got started very early on.
I didn’t like singing in backing vocals because we were just singing classical music all the time, although it helped me and probably gave me an unconsciously different take on the music I do. I liked doing open mics because I could do my own thing.
Is pop as a label correct?
I don’t know what pop music is anymore because if you look at a playlist it’s always so diverse. A song that was country is now pop; a song that was once hip-hop is now pop. Labeling my pop music is a fair call I guess because it just means popular music so I’ll take it! The sound I have explored so far is just the culmination of everything I grew up with and everything around me; I create music in a very improvised way, so that’s really what strikes you at the time. It is not at all a planned or stereotypical method of songwriting.
You’ve been compared to Billie Eilish a lot – do you think that’s correct?
I think the comparison with Billie Eilish is very humiliating because it is incredible. If someone right now is doing pop melodies but mixing them with the elements of the song, like doing freaky stuff and pushing boundaries, there will always be a comparison there.
Does the darkness of ‘PSYCHO HOLE’ reflect what you were feeling at the time, and do you think having an internal struggle is beneficial in creating art?
‘PSYCHO HOLE’ is the manifestation of anxiety, and although people perceive music differently, the lyrics really speak for themselves:. “It’s like this darker version of yourself is trying to take over, and that’s the concept of the song. Everyone can perceive it differently; it could be another part of you that you want to be. get rid of.
I naturally and subconsciously give a more uplifting twist to the way I feel. The chorus is more uplifting than the twisted verse. It’s not avoiding what I feel, but it’s looking for how I can get out of these dark situations.
Do you find it easy to be positive in bad situations like this?
I think we all aspire to feel a certain way – it’s easier said than done, and we fall into a downward spiral sometimes, but at least I feel like I’m missing the best times. We all want to escape these low points. I don’t think you need to always do a happy song in those dark places; as long as you’re honest i think it’s more important.
In your Fortnite collaboration recently, you wore a lobster outfit, which certainly sparked a reaction – do you like video games?
Yes, I’ve been trying for months to get a PS5, and it’s really boring. I grew up with a Nintendo DS and a Wii, and I also had the Gameboy. I also played PlayStation, so yeah, a real gamer. Basically, this collaboration opened my eyes to the gaming world again; I played the new Spider-Man game on PS5!
Gaming and music is something that I find really interesting because there is so much to do with music in a game, but I don’t think these worlds have collided as much as they should. Artists can enter a play space as avatars and interact with people now; I could wear this lobster costume, and other people can click on it and wear it too; it’s so much fun!
If you could have one of your songs in any video game, which one would it be?
A pretty old-fashioned choice, but I should go with Mario. Can you imagine “PSYCHO HOLE” in Mario? If he changes from Mushroom Kingdom to a castle level, it will work with tempo changes; So I can see that it works.
What general impression do you want to make with the EP ‘Nocturnal Hours’?
I want this to be a little lollipop bag where people can choose what they like. It’s a very diverse and varied EP with a ballad, psychedelic hard-core vibrations; people can decide what they like and what they don’t like – if they like it all it’s amazing, but I hope there really will be something for everyone out there . There are many sides to every human being, so I just wanted to express a few different aspects of who I am.
From the June 2021 edition of Dork, now available. ASHWARYA’s debut EP, ‘Nocturnal Hours’, is released on June 10.