Ananya Birla, 24, an Indian entrepreneur and musician, has recently released her new single “Circles.”
The song, written by her and Tom Mann, and produced by Mood Melodies, is her fourth single after ‘Livin’ the Life,’ ‘Meant To Be’ and ‘Hold On.’
“‘Circles’ is a song I wrote for my best friend. I wanted to say thank you to the person who has been with me through all the ups and down. It is easy to forget that you would not be able to get through life without your best friend,” Birla said in a press release.
After ‘Meant To Be’ released, she was noted as the first musician to be certified Platinum for an English song in India.
Birla began learning the santoor when she was 11-years-old and after her classical training, she taught herself to play the guitar using video tutorials. It was then that she fell in love with music.
“I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. I guess the journey began when I was 8 or 9 and saw my mother playing the santoor (a traditional Indian instrument, like a guitar but with more strings and you play it on your lap). I was totally entranced. My parents saw this and encouraged me to have lessons which soon became the highlight of my day,” Birla told News India Times, in an email interview.
Birla stopped formal schooling at the age of 16 and was home-schooled thereafter. In her free time she played football and learnt to surf.
Hailing from a big business family, Birla wanted to make a positive global change as she was highly aware of the inequalities that surrounded her and wanted to help the poor become economically self-sustainable.
“Business fascinates me and particularly start-ups. There is something amazing about building something from nothing which can impact people’s lives in extraordinary and innovative ways,” she said.
So she set up a microfinance organization called Svatantra, “because I wanted to develop a tool which addressed the huge income gap in India and also empowered women. It provides loans to disadvantaged women deep in the Indian countryside to help them grow their businesses and become self-sufficient.”
She then flew to England to complete her studies in economics and management at the University of Oxford.
It was during this time that Birla began singing and playing the guitar at pubs and clubs on weekends.
“I was performing regularly. I used to head to London every weekend to play in bars and clubs around town. Even if I was only playing to ten people, I absolutely loved it,” she added.
While studying, she was still managing Svatantra over Skype calls and worked as a counselor for a student welfare charity where she met and interacted with many people her own age who were suffering from anxiety and depression.
That experience changed her completely and when she went back to India, Birla and her mother set up a mental health initiative called MPower to blow away the stigma towards people with mental illness in the country.
She then started her second business called CuroCarte, which brings together high quality handicrafts from across the globe and makes them accessible through an e-commerce platform.
She was soon named one of Miss Vogue’s 28 Geniuses under 28 and was a recipient of the CNBC Young Business Women Award.
In addition to her entrepreneurial life, Birla does not forget the fact that she is in love with music and enjoys writing her own songs like the one she wrote a few years ago, ‘I Don’t Want to Love’ and pitched it to music labels in India.
She was soon signed by the Universal Music Group, India and launched her debut single ‘Livin’ the Life’ in November 2016, which till date, has crossed 3.5 million audio streams along with being viewed over 5 million times on VEVO/YouTube; it has also peaked at a high #11 on the Shazam Top 100 India songs charts.
In March 2017, Birla collaborated with DJ Afrojack for a remix of ‘Livin’ the Life’ and released ‘Meant To Be’ last July, which made her the first Indian artist to go Platinum.
“I have really enjoyed collaborating with artists from overseas. Mood Melodies who produced my last track is from Norway, and Afrojack and Jim Beanz are both based in the US. It is hugely valuable for getting your music to appeal to a wider audience – collaborating can help you take lyrics which are often (especially in my case) quite personal and make them more universally relatable,” she said.
Birla told News India Times that she will be releasing more music this year and “hopefully an EP before 2019. I have started to do more live shows, and would love to do more both in India and the USA. I have been recording in LA and Atlanta, and I filmed my first video in California so the US feels like home for me.”
“Eventually I would love to tour around the world, and show that India can produce a successful, global musician,” she added, thanking the internet for providing a global platform for music.