I was always taught to be myself: Akasa Singh
Gifting the nation with its selfie anthem last year 'Tu kheench meri photo' singer Akasa Singh, shares her story of doing a duet with pop sensation Ricky Martin recently, with Lahari Basu.
Tell us about your childhood, growing up in a family with musical background...
As my father is a singer, there was always something or the other going on in my family. Growing up with that, before I knew what a career is, I already knew that I wanted to be a singer. I got my dad's voice, and I pursued singing under his guidance, eventually, I started my career with Mika Singh. He would often come to our home and he used to make me sing and asked me to join the band with him and perform live.
Please share your experience working with Mika
Working with Mika was great. I was in a band at a very young age, I was the only girl in the band which had about 10 male members over the age of 40! Very early on I got to experience a lot. I got a chance to travel the whole world to perform for different audiences. Basically, working with him sort of moulded me, because he is one of the best performers of the country, and I learned a lot from him . Whatever I do on stage today is because of how Mika ji groomed me. I learned the best thing from the best person.
Your performance is quite versatile. How did you work on your charming onstage persona?
I was born and brought up in a sardar family, I grew up with only brothers. While growing up, I never hesitated for anything, thinking whether it would be inappropriate to behave in a way since I'm a girl. I did what I saw my brothers do. So, with that confidence I never hesitate onstage about how I'd look while rapping, or whether I have to behave/perform in a particular way since I'm dressed in a lovely ghagra choli. I was always encouraged by my parents to be myself , I was never taught to behave in any particular way just because I am a girl. Growing up that way I explored many opportunities – if I wanted to rap I could, if I wanted to jump onstage or crack jokes I could – it sometimes does not go with the way I look or with people's expectation, but it's because I was always taught to be who I am. People do get a little shocked sometimes when I crack little jokes in the middle of my performance or jump...
Did you ever have stage fright?
I used to have that sort of fright before my exams! (laughs) When I used to study for exams, I would think Yaar Geometry chhodo, main stage mein 5000 logon ke samne gana ga dungi I never experienced stage fright on the stage, because I felt at home on stage.
I always wanted to go on stage hold a mic and interact with the people when my dad used to perform. But I was really young, and I could not sing properly. When my dad asked, what would you sing if you go on stage, I'd say 'I don't know, just get me on the stage, give me a mic and let people watch me and I'll interact with them. Since the time I saw my dad perform on stage in front of a huge audience, I guess that stage fright was wiped off even before I had it.
In fact, I feel more at home on the stage even if there are 50,000 people in the audience rather than meeting new people. All thanks to my dad jinki performance dekh dekh ke woh dar nikal gaya.
How did you get your first Bollywood break?
Himesh Reshamiya was the mentor of a show I did – 'India's Raw Star'. When he heard me sing for the first time he promised me that he'd give me a break in Bollywood. After the show, a lot of people asked me whether I got a chance in Bollywood. An acquaintance gave me Himesh's contact number and pushed me to talk to him. I messaged him 'Hi Himesh ji, Akasa here. Hope you are well' and in reply he texted, 'Hi Akasa hope you are well, come to the studio tomorrow, we'll dub a song'. It was as if I reminded him about his promise. When I went to the studio the next day, he told me, Tum apne tarike me gao. That was the best part, and I sang the song, 'Tu kheench meri photo' from Sanam Teri Kasam in that 'masti wala' tone. He liked my tone and that's how I got my break in Bollywood. Kafi filmy kahaani hai meri! (laughs)
How did your collaboration with Ricky Martin for 'Vente Pa Ca' happen?
Another break that happened before this break was me signing up with Sony Music. Sony is his lable. They told me that there's a Spanish single of Ricky Martin, and that he was making an English version of it and whether I would like to lend my Hindi voice to it.
I got so excited that I agreed at once. My vocals were recorded and sent. Ricky really liked it and that's how I collaborated with him on the duet, 'Vente Pa Ca'.
What have you learnt from this experience?
Unfortunately, I have not met him in person yet. When we were discussing the song, we exchanged e-mails where he explained me the feel of the song, how to sing it and a little praise. But the fact that I have a duet with him is a big deal for me. I hope that I get to meet him in future and work more with him.
Any Bollywood heroine you'd like to lend your voice to?
Aaj kal actually itna talent aa gaya Bollywood mein, that some of them are singing themselves. I cannot decide on any one particular person. I love Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra... Infact I would like to sing for any of the heroines! They all are absolutely beautiful, I can sing for any heroine. Sometimes I think it's better to be the heroin and sing my own songs! (laughs)
Would you like to share any memorable moment that with us?
Recently, I did a show called 'MTV Angles of Rock' with three other Bollywood singers – Jasmine Sandlas, Shalmali Kholgade, and Anusha Mani. It was a women empowerment oriented show for which I wrote and composed two songs for the first time in my life. I also performed them for the people I had written for. That feeling of them appreciating, getting emotional and loving my songs is something that I'll never forget in my life, which is why I don't just want to sing but also want to compose and write so that I can touch people's lives in more ways.
What are your hobbies?
Well, other than singing, I love to dance and read. I have a passion for bullet motorbike, so I'm trying to convince my mother to buy me a bullet. I'm also obsessed with animals – a pet lover.