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Abhilasha Sinha
Abhilasha Sinha
This Badass Boss is a whimsical singer-songwriter from New Delhi now living in New York, and describes her music as “forever work-in-progress, sunshiny and sad love ditties”.
Abhilasha Sinha

Abhilasha writes in both English and Hindi, and her signature soaring vocals and poignant lyrics transport you to another time and place. Abhilasha is also the lead vocalist and one-third of trip-hop trio No Honey, as well as one-third of the folk trio RIVER.Rooted in messages of female empowerment in a country where the feminist movement has gathered extraordinary momentum, Sinha’s songs pay homage to the triumphs and trials of womanhood.In this interview, Abhilasha discusses creativity, mental health, the importance of self-promotion and much more

When and how did you find “your voice/sound”?

I’m still looking for it! The process of finding and perfecting a “sound” is a lifelong process. Your voice and sound evolve and change as you grow as an artist, the same as it does for a music listener.

How do you keep the creativity flowing?

Heartbreak.
Jokes aside, it’s got a lot to do with your environment, your state of mind and your workstation. If there’s a ready-to-go music workstation, it's easier to just sit for hours on end and be creative, but that can also get monotonous. I think just exploring your surroundings, tapping on random melodies that you hum while on the subway, and constantly writing helps.

Do you like to experiment and be versatile or do you prefer to stick to your niche? Which is better for an artist in the long run?

I’m experimenting because I’m still trying to find a sound that works for me (again, a lifelong process). For the long run, it really depends on what kind of artist you’d like to be - for true pop artists, it helps to stick to the pop sound that’s been your signature for years, and for experimental artists like Bjork, you know each song is going to sound different.

How is singing in a band different from singing solo? Which do you prefer?

You’re totally exposed when you’re playing solo, whereas with a band you’ve got the whole instrumentation to cover up any mistakes you do. It’s also a totally different stage dynamic with a band - you can just be “more”. But I also love performing solo - there’s an intimacy to it which can’t be achieved with a band, and it’s still my favourite way to connect to an audience.

How do you know as an artist, that your art can be more than a hobby? How and when did you realize it?

When you see there’s an audience for your music, when you get paid to play/record, and you can see some potential for growth over 2-3 years at least, it’s probably a good time to think of a switch it from “hobby” to a potential career.

Were you scared to take the plunge into music? What kept you going?

I’m still scared.  What keeps me going is encouragement from my friends and fellow musicians, my mentors in the industry and the people who listen to my music. They may not know it, but every comment that’s along the lines of “wow, I heard your song 4 times today!” keeps me going and prevents me from throwing in the towel. Most of all, my love for music.

From New Delhi to New York, what has changed?

In New Delhi (or India), there’s the “scene” and everyone knows everyone, you have your bandmates to play with, audiences, venues and festivals know you and your music, and booking (logistical issues aside) becomes a little easier. In New York, no one really knows me or my music, so each show is like the first show with new members of the audience.

How is the music industry and scene different in NYC from Delhi?

That’s a much longer conversation to be had, I really cannot answer that in just a few sentences!
The most glaring difference is the level of professionalism across all aspects of the industry. Everything is on time, everything is communicated clearly, payments are on time. The US is a very old, highly structured, highly functional industry, with proper systems in place (societal, structural and governmental) for music and musicians to grow, whereas India is still very new.

How important is it for an artist to be well versed with the business side of the industry?

Very important. Basic knowledge of the business side of things, especially for independent artists who don’t have entire teams handling everything is crucial, because you can miss out on a lot of opportunities, potential earnings (I’m looking at you, music publishing) and growth aspects.


What are some basic things that an artist may ignore while focusing on their art but are actually very important?

Mental health! The “tortured artist” image is toxic and should never be romanticized and perpetrated. It’s very hard to put yourself out there with constant failure and rejection, and everyone reacts differently to that. In a 9-5 job, your role ends when you leave the office, but as an artist, your entire persona and music is what the world sees. That can be extremely harrowing, so taking care of mental health, understanding that a social media persona isn’t the whole truth at all, and taking time for self-care is very important.

How important is self-promotion?

It’s important to a point, but if the music doesn’t speak for itself, no amount of self-promotion will help, really.

Is there something in your career that you absolutely won’t compromise on or do at all?

Letting someone use their power or clout in the industry to take advantage of me in the pretext of “getting ahead”.

Tell us a bit about your short term and long term plans.

Short term - release 3 new singles in the new year, and a music video, graduate grad school and find a job in the music industry

Long term - be a full time performing and recording artist and start my own venture (in the music industry) in India

by Aaryaman Dixit (6).jpeg

.

Describe a Badass woman

Someone who’s unapologetically herself, and lifts up and supports other womxn instead of bringing them down.

Name a few Badass women who inspire you

My womxn friends and peers in the music industry first - they’re all incredible and I truly admire their talent and hustle. My mother, who is probably the most “badass” woman I know. In the industry, there’s Susan Dodes who’s my professor and mentor without whose advice I probably wouldn’t still be doing this.

Your advice for creatives who don’t have access to a business degree?

Don’t shy away from the business side of things because that knowledge will really help. That’s easily learned without getting a degree because real-life experience is the best teacher - interactions with people from different parts of the industry, seeing artists you admire who are doing well, seeing if adapting some of their growth models might help you as an artist as well, etc. While it’s crucial to have the knowledge of the business side like contracts and publishing deals so you don’t get taken advantage of, once you’re at a certain level in your career, it’s best to get a lawyer and a manager to actually work the business side, so you can focus on the music.

Abhilasha Sinha

Abhilasha writes in both English and Hindi, and her signature soaring vocals and poignant lyrics transport you to another time and place. Abhilasha is also the lead vocalist and one-third of trip-hop trio No Honey, as well as one-third of the folk trio RIVER.Rooted in messages of female empowerment in a country where the feminist movement has gathered extraordinary momentum, Sinha’s songs pay homage to the triumphs and trials of womanhood.In this interview, Abhilasha discusses creativity, mental health, the importance of self-promotion and much more

When and how did you find “your voice/sound”?

I’m still looking for it! The process of finding and perfecting a “sound” is a lifelong process. Your voice and sound evolve and change as you grow as an artist, the same as it does for a music listener.

How do you keep the creativity flowing?

Heartbreak.
Jokes aside, it’s got a lot to do with your environment, your state of mind and your workstation. If there’s a ready-to-go music workstation, it's easier to just sit for hours on end and be creative, but that can also get monotonous. I think just exploring your surroundings, tapping on random melodies that you hum while on the subway, and constantly writing helps.

Do you like to experiment and be versatile or do you prefer to stick to your niche? Which is better for an artist in the long run?

I’m experimenting because I’m still trying to find a sound that works for me (again, a lifelong process). For the long run, it really depends on what kind of artist you’d like to be - for true pop artists, it helps to stick to the pop sound that’s been your signature for years, and for experimental artists like Bjork, you know each song is going to sound different.

How is singing in a band different from singing solo? Which do you prefer?

You’re totally exposed when you’re playing solo, whereas with a band you’ve got the whole instrumentation to cover up any mistakes you do. It’s also a totally different stage dynamic with a band - you can just be “more”. But I also love performing solo - there’s an intimacy to it which can’t be achieved with a band, and it’s still my favourite way to connect to an audience.

How do you know as an artist, that your art can be more than a hobby? How and when did you realize it?

When you see there’s an audience for your music, when you get paid to play/record, and you can see some potential for growth over 2-3 years at least, it’s probably a good time to think of a switch it from “hobby” to a potential career.

Were you scared to take the plunge into music? What kept you going?

I’m still scared.  What keeps me going is encouragement from my friends and fellow musicians, my mentors in the industry and the people who listen to my music. They may not know it, but every comment that’s along the lines of “wow, I heard your song 4 times today!” keeps me going and prevents me from throwing in the towel. Most of all, my love for music.

From New Delhi to New York, what has changed?

In New Delhi (or India), there’s the “scene” and everyone knows everyone, you have your bandmates to play with, audiences, venues and festivals know you and your music, and booking (logistical issues aside) becomes a little easier. In New York, no one really knows me or my music, so each show is like the first show with new members of the audience.

How is the music industry and scene different in NYC from Delhi?

That’s a much longer conversation to be had, I really cannot answer that in just a few sentences!
The most glaring difference is the level of professionalism across all aspects of the industry. Everything is on time, everything is communicated clearly, payments are on time. The US is a very old, highly structured, highly functional industry, with proper systems in place (societal, structural and governmental) for music and musicians to grow, whereas India is still very new.

How important is it for an artist to be well versed with the business side of the industry?

Very important. Basic knowledge of the business side of things, especially for independent artists who don’t have entire teams handling everything is crucial, because you can miss out on a lot of opportunities, potential earnings (I’m looking at you, music publishing) and growth aspects.


What are some basic things that an artist may ignore while focusing on their art but are actually very important?

Mental health! The “tortured artist” image is toxic and should never be romanticized and perpetrated. It’s very hard to put yourself out there with constant failure and rejection, and everyone reacts differently to that. In a 9-5 job, your role ends when you leave the office, but as an artist, your entire persona and music is what the world sees. That can be extremely harrowing, so taking care of mental health, understanding that a social media persona isn’t the whole truth at all, and taking time for self-care is very important.

How important is self-promotion?

It’s important to a point, but if the music doesn’t speak for itself, no amount of self-promotion will help, really.

Is there something in your career that you absolutely won’t compromise on or do at all?

Letting someone use their power or clout in the industry to take advantage of me in the pretext of “getting ahead”.

Tell us a bit about your short term and long term plans.

Short term - release 3 new singles in the new year, and a music video, graduate grad school and find a job in the music industry

Long term - be a full time performing and recording artist and start my own venture (in the music industry) in India

by Aaryaman Dixit (6).jpeg

.

Describe a Badass woman

Someone who’s unapologetically herself, and lifts up and supports other womxn instead of bringing them down.

Name a few Badass women who inspire you

My womxn friends and peers in the music industry first - they’re all incredible and I truly admire their talent and hustle. My mother, who is probably the most “badass” woman I know. In the industry, there’s Susan Dodes who’s my professor and mentor without whose advice I probably wouldn’t still be doing this.

Your advice for creatives who don’t have access to a business degree?

Don’t shy away from the business side of things because that knowledge will really help. That’s easily learned without getting a degree because real-life experience is the best teacher - interactions with people from different parts of the industry, seeing artists you admire who are doing well, seeing if adapting some of their growth models might help you as an artist as well, etc. While it’s crucial to have the knowledge of the business side like contracts and publishing deals so you don’t get taken advantage of, once you’re at a certain level in your career, it’s best to get a lawyer and a manager to actually work the business side, so you can focus on the music.