“I’m extremely practical,” says Tanya Nambiar, the lady who left a thriving career in sales to pursue one as a singer. Once you’ve brought that eyebrow down from your forehead, we’ll tell you how this hustler makes perfect sense. First fancy dress competition as Madonna, a lifelong affair with music, and the determination to “be independent and standout from the crowd”, it was only a matter of time that the corporate climb couldn’t shine brighter than this vibrant musician and she came into her own. #DSSCSecretConversations caught up with the eclectic singer over unexpected showers & foaming cappuccinos to talk about chasing dreams relentlessly yet mindfully.
Encouraged to hone her singing since childhood by musically inclined parents, Tanya has never known a life without music. Starting from school competitions and school bands to recording her own music videos, she’s come a long a way. Taking up her sales job alongside college and continuing with it post her graduation, the 9 to 5 career had taken well to Ms. Nambiar, but as she says, “Music, spotlight, and stage has always attracted me and I wanted to make that a full fledged career.” And so, she switched on the hustle-mode, taking up karaoke parallel to her day job, “It was my first professional music-related job. I would finish my day job, come back home to change, head for karaoke, get only 4 hours of sleep and get back to office the next morning.” The grind turned to gold when gig and karaoke enquiries started pouring in, “I’ve always felt that music is my calling, but was pragmatic and shifted careers only when singing offered the same financial security, with the added dash of happiness, of course.” As her karaoke soared, it brought with itself confidence to perform on stage, and insightful interactions with industry folks & musicians, motivating Tanya to take the plunge and tune into singing full-time.
Her first outing as a professional singer was as the lead of her band, Gravy Train, formed in December 2012. However, “As is with most bands, everybody decided to focus on themselves and gradually disintegrated,” she says, but the result was a happy one as it spurred her solo singing career, bringing us delights like Good Old Days, Stuck in a Daze, and Hide & Seek. Solo for over a year now, along with smashing singles Tanya’s collaborating with different artists (her latest number with the Hungarian label Dual Disco released this week), and is set to come out with a new EP this month. Speaking on the theme of her upcoming EP, Good Girls Gone, she shares, “It’s 2017 yet it’s easy for independent women to get labelled. I think women are badar$e and we can do what we want, so it’s just a way of giving it back to society, that good girls are now gone so what are you gonna do about it?”. Women empowerment or any other cause, she believes, “As an artist you always need to give back to people through the platform available to you. If you’re unable to push a cause forward then the whole point of being able to speak out is a fail,” she states.
Talking of spreading a message, we ask what inspires her songwriting, “I like to write songs that are simple and easy to relate to,” something that shows through her first single, Life As You Know It. From someone who never thought she’d write to present-day where lyrics flow through her, Tanya’s growth as a songwriter cannot be missed, “The biggest takeaway for a singer is when somebody remembers something of your song,” she says. While classics like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder continue to influence her, what stimulates the songstress is, “I’m very greedy about making it big, even if it takes me 20 years, my teeth fall out and then I become famous, I’ll be the happiest person in the world! But you have to work hard to maintain this as it can go away anytime,” she shares.
“I just want people to know who Tanya Nambiar is and what her music is.” Her goal doesn’t seem too distant as the artist isn’t one to restrict herself and is open to experimenting with all genres of music. From pop, jazz, to alternative rock her songs have spanned across genres, and she intends to only add to her milieu, “If I can do justice to different genres then why not. The main thing is, no matter what you try, do it with your style, don’t compete with somebody else. Your voice shouldn’t change as a singer even if you’re switching genres, that’ll only get you so far.” A firm believer in experimenting, singing is not the only cape in her wardrobe, this ace lady juggles her singing career while being involved with several others – karaoke jockey, anchor, voice-over artist, a music website & app business, and a hot sauce business (phew!). “If you have the hunger and the drive, anything is possible. You have to manage your time and be passionate about each of the things,” she says, adding that at the end of the day if you want it to do well, you’ll do your all to make it happen. “I wake up in the morning and there’s always something to look forward to, that’s what keeps me ticking.”
We gently steer the convo-ship about the growth of the music industry over the last seven years, “Right now is a great time to be a musician. We have the biggest platform – social media – which has helped independent music grow and take the concept of music beyond Bollywood,” Tanya tells us. Addressing the audience she says, “It’s good that the audience is experimenting, is more receptive, actually know their music and has become more mannered.” On how it’s been for her personally, “I’m now learning the business side of music. It’s scary but it’s been great!” she says, telling us that we should watch out for a music video and perhaps a concert in the near future (we’ve booked our tickets with her already).
With the sound of thunder going up and our cappuccinos going down, we belt out the signature DSSC Rapid Fire to her.
One song you can listen to on repeat all day everyday?
Tanya: Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.
One change you’d like to see in the industry?
Tanya: More Artist Managers.
Last song stuck in your head?
Tanya: Chilli Chizza by Baba Sehgal.
One tip for budding musicians looking to enter the industry?
Tanya: Do not copy anyone, discover your own voice and style.
Concerts or Headphones?
Tanya: Headphones. Always.
One song you can’t bear to listen any more?
Tanya: The new Tamma Tamma song!
If DSSC were to invest Rs 10 crores in Brand TN, how will you utilise it?
Tanya: I’ll use it for three things: get a huge property to take care of all the dogs in the city, travel, and create my own concert.
This conversation is a part of the DSSC Secret Conversation Series, where we get candid with the ace industry disruptors who map its course one masterstroke at a time.
Featured Image Courtesy: Vishal Dixit