She's been singing ever since she could talk (3),started training in Indian classical singing soon after she learnt to walk (5) & started performing live shortly after (8). Her first singing competition was at 8 years old - Himachal Idol and by 11 she was in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs where Sonu Nigam's suggestion happened to shape her life. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa happened again when she was 16 years old followed by The Stage 2 when she was 20, where she participated despite a major accident and went on to perform in that condition losing out in the show but winning everybody's hearts with her sheer resilience and beautiful voice. While singing is what brought her so far, she is so much more than that, she is a true performer!
Releasing her own EPs now with self-written songs and featuring in Bollywood mega-flicks like Fanney Khan, she's come a long way, but be assured that she is just getting started!
In this exclusive interview with Barbie Rajput, we discuss her dreams, her lows, her body, nudity and a lot more.
How would you describe your music style?
So the thing is that I listen to everything!
When I say everything, I mean everything – every part of the world, every genre, and every kind of music. So my music style right now is pretty scattered its not defined, its not concrete. I like to make what I feel I would enjoy listening to or enjoy performing. I still need some time to describe my music style.
I make what I think I FEEL in the moment, for now.
How did you discover it despite training in Classical music?
It did not happen overnight, you know.
It took me a lot of time - very very very many years to understand, 'Okay, this is the kind of stuff that I want to do.'
I admire a lot of artists from the country. I'm a huge fan of Rafi Sahab, Lata ji, Sunidhi Chauhan you know? I grew up listening to these people but I never wanted to be a playback singer. I wanted to be the face to my voice and I never knew if I could write so I started listening to English music when I was 11, and that's when I realized that there's a whole different world out there and that's what I want to do. This is who I want to be & this is the kind of music that I want to make.
Yeah, and the songwriting happened last year last year. I had people around me fortunately to push me to a point where they were like, - "Okay, nobody's gonna write music for you. You got to do it!"
So I gave it a shot and there you go. I ended up cutting an EP this year, three singles. are already out and I am super happy about whatever happened. It really brought a lot of a lot of learning and good vibes in my life.
You’ve been performing live since you were very young. Did that ever interfere with your studies?
They started performing when I was eight and I did everything simultaneously.
I mean next day I used to have my school and the previous night, I would be going somewhere to perform.
For example if I'm performing somewhere in Himachal and at that point of time, I had already moved to Chandigarh, so me and my mom we would go, book a taxi and go and do my show and then come back the next day and go to school or sometimes take a half-day from the school and leave for the show and then come back later in the night while there's an exam the next day. So you gotta do what you gotta do.
You know, my mother is very supportive so everything was easily sorted out.
What did those early performances teach you?
Those things taught me about the things that I do not wish to do in my life and the things I really wanna do and should be pursuing.
They brought a lot of confidence! I am who I am because of a lot of those small opportunities.
Now that I talk about it, it almost takes me back and relive those times and revisit those feelings and I am reminded- 'Ohh, so that's what it felt like!'
You’ve now participated in 3 competitions. How did they impact your life & which one is the closest to your heart?
So every reality show that I was a part of happened to me. When I was in a very younger age group, the first time I was 11, so at that time the experience was entirely different, you know? It changed my life because one of the judges, Sonu Nigam he asked me - "Okay, you know, what, why don't you start listening to English music?".
So yeah, and then Sa Re Ga Ma Pa challenge 2012 happened and that changed my life in the social media aspects. Like I auditioned and was a bad according to me now when I look back at it. But my life changed on social media overnight, you know? You have all these people following you and they're saying "Oh you're cute" and this or that and it gets to your head. You know when you're 16, and then you also get bullied for your clothes, for the choices that you make or for you being your teenage self. They don't understand that she's a teenager who is just figuring her shit out or she must be at a vulnerable place where she connects with somebody and she would want to be like them.
I was 16. I was having fun. I had my friends around me who would be like "Woohoo! we are friends with so and so"
That kind of gets to your head, not gonna lie about it!
So that taught me the things that I do not wish to be a part of, taught me the things the traits that I should not have in my character, you know what I mean?
Then The Stage 2 happened and my leg was completely fucked up!
I had met with an accident at that point of time in my life and I wanted to do the show because that was the only platform that I had gotten where I was like, "Okay, this is my shit!" , because it's a very pop-oriented show and pop is my jam.
That taught me a lot of things and really helped me. Also I was kinda mature enough to understand like what is going on and what will work for me and like I need to get my shit together. So after the stage, I kind of stopped performing. I was like 'wait, I need to figure out what I want. I need to figure out who I am as an artist, because all this while I've just been struggling for somebody to come to me to provide me a platform that I really wanted but that's not gonna happen. I really need to figure myself out.'
What lows do you face as a young musician and a performer?
I'm going to speak about myself. I was a part of a lot of different worlds. There was a world that I wanted to be a part of but I did not know how - the teen sensation kind of world at that point of time and there was this world that I was in and I did not want to be a part of.
I wanted to be on Disney and be a Disney star back when I was 11 or 12 years old which could not happen and then there were artists that I was completely inspired and influenced by when I was 11. That's what I wanted for myself. It was disappointing but I've been trying to make the kind of music that satisfies me and long way to go.
Also bullying the way people bully you on social media, they don't see left-right or centre. They don't even consider the age of the person and it's very sad and it genuinely hurts as hell.
It's the worst thing that can happen to anybody.
What motivates and demotivates you?
I want to be a really great artist, you know? I'm not kidding and I'm being very honest and I am not afraid to work hard. That's for sure.
So, I take inspiration from everybody from anybody and everybody. You know what I mean? So everything motivates me literally!
My mother is the most important motivating factor in my life.
What demotivates me is my own self, my own mind because I think about things that I shouldn't be thinking about. You got to be in control, your mind needs to be in control.
How do you handle lows?
You handle them because there's so much to look forward to in life and I can say right now after a lot of rejections in my life after a lot of experiences that I have had in my own little ways. I'm a very - 'You can deal with it' kinda person.
You just need to take one thing at a time. There's always something or the other to look forward to trust me but only if you place your mind in the right direction, only if you train your mind to look in a certain way to have a perspective in a certain way.
Your song subjects are fairly complex for someone your age. Do the older people in the industry ever patronize you? How do you handle it?
I'm not patronized by anybody.
You know, if somebody likes my music fine, if they don't like it, it doesn't matter to me I make music for myself. Whatever I make I am completely happy about it.
It's all heart felt and honest.
When it comes to the subjects that I have for my songs they're all from my personal experiences, nothing is out of the box. So yeah the subject may seem complex, which is all right again, because I would really appreciate if people can be more curious and I believe that there needs to be some curiosity.
The love of my life told me that. He said, "you know, when it comes to music, you gotta be curious."
Tell us about your track Minus You
Minus you talks about how beautiful female body is and how beautiful female nudity is which is always been put together in a bad light. I always wanted to write something of that sort because I admire new portraits, I am fond of French art and the artists, so inspiration kind of comes from there. There are a lot of global references in that song used in a very metaphorical way. I still believe the song can sound a bit amateurish but it has some solid content, I can assure you that.
Would you ever appear in nude shoots?
Yeah why not!
Only if I believe that it is justifying something and it's trying to make a contextual statement, I would love to do nude shoots, but in a very elegant yet vulnerable way, like something that is super classy, you know what I mean?
I want to do everything.
I want to be everything.
- Barbie Rajput
As a petite girl, have you ever been bullied or struggled with body image issues?
The kind of body type that I have, I have been bullied. I don't really look my age even though it has a lot to do with my face but people always tell me "Why don't you gain some weight?." "You're so Patla" and "eat something" and shit like that, so yeah that's been going on for years. But do I give a fuck? HELL NO!
I would like to have a certain type of body but not because I think someone else wants me to do that but because I want to do that. So it's like totally my choice if that ever happens.
What’s your take on body positivity?
You know my take on every kind of positivity is including body positivity, is live and just let live.
If somebody wants to lose weight, it should be their choice. If somebody does not want to lose weight, it should be their choice. If somebody wants to stay how they are, it's their choice. You know what I mean?
As long as somebody as long as people know that okay, you know, this is what works for me and I am not doing this at the risk of my health, every body has a choice of their own and people need to let it be that's what I believe in for every kind of positivity.
Focus on your life dude, I mean let people be! Our world needs compassion and empathy!
How serious are you about acting?
Acting music writing dance performance being on stage being in front of camera, I believe is what I was born to do.
I know that for sure like thousand percent! I know that there's nothing else that I can do. And yes, there are a lot of other things that are still gonna come to me that I will explore on my journey in my life. These are the things that I would never want to make a choice between. I think as long as I am breathing, I can pull off anything that I want to, so I'm pretty much serious about art in general in my life and for me that covers everything.
I want to do everything. I want to be everything, so yeah acting gonna stay for a long time for me.
How do you imagine yourself at 30 years old?
As 30 years old I should be touring the world and I should have done at least two-three great films and I should have a couple of albums and I want to be the greatest entertainer of the world. I'm not kidding!
So I should be there, or at least close to being there. So yeah, that's the plan!
Your definition of a Badass woman
I think for me Badass woman is somebody who's everything she wants to be.
With a lot of compassion empathy and she should be giving back to the community and very kind-hearted. Well that, and everything else can be figured out. So yeah.
Some Badass women who inspire you
Some badass women who inspire me would be my mother and my queen-Beyonce and this musician Debo Ray that I met recently. She's amazing.
And myself, I'm very very inspired by myself. I love myself. I really love myself!
Words of wisdom to girls who look up to you?
Girls, if there are any, who look up to me, I would like to tell them - It's good to look up to somebody but I hope you find who you're looking for as yourself, you know? It's very important because I look up to thousands of people but I kind of know where I am going with my own self.
This goes not only for the girls but also for the men from any or every Community who have appreciated my work.
Keep on Slaying! Create your own magic!
Let the world see what a wonder you are and what strength you have to create numerous possibilities to make the world a better better place for other people.