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Ashwarya is the genre-blending Gen Z popstar you need to know

WORDS BY TINA SUMMERS

Future pop.

Ready or not, here comes Ashwarya. The 21-year-old Indian-born Melburnian recently released her debut single ‘Psycho Hole’ — a certified banger that showcases her incredible ability to deftly mix rap, R&B, pop and bhangra drumming.

Growing up on classical Indian music, Ashwarya has the kind of musical pedigree that money can’t buy. It’s no wonder she was the first artist to earn a spot working with Australian producer Jarrad Rogers (who’s worked with the likes of Diplo, Charli XCX, Mark Ronson and Icona Pop) under his new label Noize Recordings. But who needs to name drop when your first track sounds this bloody great? Let’s get to know Ashwarya.

How did you get into music?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been singing and dancing around the house. When I was little, I’d put on some of the craziest performances for my family. Even the guests that would come over would get a dose of my own little talent show. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up, so I was exposed to a versatile range of music through watching song sequences in Bollywood films and then re-enacting them. I think from there on it became a key part of my identity.

Can you tell us about some of your musical influences and what ignited your passion?

Growing up with so many different influences from Bollywood and Western music was incredible. I was exposed to a lot of ’80s to early 2000s Bollywood music and then went on to listen to a bunch of western pop and R&B hits. As a kid, I was obsessed with So Fresh CDs. Music has always been a very important and impactful part of my life. It has helped me better express myself and has been an outlet for me to get my emotions out.

Which artists do you look up to and why?

I look up to so many artists… Rihanna, Kanye West, Travis Scott, Sufjan Stevens, Tyler The Creator, SZA. There’s an intoxicating feeling about their music and vocals that hits me every time. My all-time musical hero is Freddie Mercury. I don’t even have to explain why.

How would you describe your sound to people new to your music?

My sound is excitable, hard-hitting at times and highly emotive. It’s pretty vulnerable too. I know that’s not really a sound, but I feel like it’s definitely something you can feel when you listen to my music.

Can you tell us a bit about ‘Biryani’, your track that Triple J has been spinning, and how it was made? How did you feel about the response to it?

Biryani’ was such a fun song to make. I was literally eating my mum’s biryani and thought to myself, “Dang, I really love biryani” and then thought, “Maybe I should write a song about it!” There’s something kind of cool about the connection of food and love. Your favourite food can bring you so much warmth and happiness, somewhat similar to how a person can. Unless that’s just me [laughs]. I honestly did not expect people to react the way they did, especially since it starts off with Hindi, straight off the bat. I had people texting me videos of them dancing to the song and it was pretty surreal! Like people be bopping to MY SONG?! Pretty wild feeling for me.

What are some of the inspirations behind ‘Psycho Hole’?

‘Psycho Hole’ was inspired by the vulnerabilities and anxieties that I wanted to vent out. I intended for the song to be fairly open-ended and I’m keen to see how people might relate to it in different ways.

How do your Indian and Australian backgrounds influence the way you approach music?

I think being able to have the best of both worlds has made me feel like I’ve got this treasure box full of colourful pashminas and jewels that I can dive into and add to my collection, when needed. So many times I’ll hear something and it would remind me of a Bollywood song, opening up a whole new perspective for me to work with whilst songwriting.

Are there any Indian tracks/artists/films that you can recommend?

Totally. Arijit Singh is an incredible Indian artist who I’ve been a fan of for a while now. Check out his song ‘Tum hi ho’! Another amazing Indian artist is the legendary Kishore Kumar. My favourite Bollywood film amongst many is probably 3 Idiots (great soundtrack too) but I’d also recommend Padmaavat which is an epic period drama. In terms of fashion, Sabyasachi Mukherjee is insane!

You already seem to have a really strong sense of personal style. Can you tell us a little about the fashion you’re into and any style icons you look up to?

Fashion has always been something that I’ve loved to play with and at some point I really wanna design my own clothes. Although streetwear is so broad, I love the renegade and bold nature of how you can mix and match so many different textures, colours and shapes.

Dream collab?

Frank Ocean.

What’s next for you?

More songs coming later this year! Also some live performances (fingers crossed given the current sitch). Plus working on some merch too.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I would like to see myself having made lots of music that I can look back on and be really proud of, collaborated with many incredible artists and have had the opportunity to tour around the world!

@ashwaryahhh

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