Hello, it’s me. I know, it’s been a while. Summer just so happens to be a season where I tend to come back here because I have a bit more time. Time to write, but also to discover new artists. On a daily basis, I’m usually drowning in an ocean of songs due to my work as a music publicist and I sometimes miss the luxury of spending hours digging for new gems, and then some more just to research and read everything I can about these emerging talents.
And Akshara is one of them. When I played her single Universe for the first time, it brought a smile to my face from the very first Hindi syllable, in the same way the late Lata Mangeshkar fills me with warmth & nostalgia whenever I hear her songs. My joy expanded when the delicate string plucking exited to make space for the first cinematic production and language switch up: it’s giving fusion, ladies and gentlemen. Now I don’t know if it’s the product of being mixed race but nothing excites me more than beautiful hybrids, where all your roots tastefully and peacefully co-exist. The American singer-songwriter of Indian descent will take you on a hypnotic journey through genres and dimensions, exploring your heart and your soul at the very same time. Her spellbinding vocals are hard to resist but trust me, it’s well worth it to let them blindly guide you.
“In your dreams, on your path, in your thoughts, in their questions, in your prayers, in your breath, in your arms, in your visions… I am everywhere”, she sings in Hindi during the opening. Grounded in the spiritual realm, the track is an ode to Shakti, the Hindu goddess personifying female energy, who came together with Shiva to form the universe. Growing up with so many female deities at home, Akshara was indeed inspired to talk about “how undeniable the power of feminine energy is and how it’s all so pervasive”. Little fun fact: Universe was in fact written after listening to SZA‘s latest album S.O.S., in which she shares conversations with the famous yogi Sadhguru. And Akshara randomly met SZA in LA and they ended up talking about spirituality and Shakti! Don’t you love how the universe always has your back?
Now we’re at the stage where you’ve listened to Akshara and you’re intrigued. Correct? Good. Because I got your back too and asked her to share with me all the songs that made her, just to get a little more familiar…
The last concert you attended?
Victoria Monét, and she was absolutely phenomenal. I attended Lolo Zouaï the same weekend and she was incredible as well!
The last album you purchased?
Last album I purchased was 333 by Tinashe. Ever since she went independent, it’s been amazing seeing her find her voice. She’s such a huge inspiration for me, I love how intentional she is with her visuals and artistry.
Three songs on repeat in your current playlist?
Gemini Feed by Banks, Good Love 2.0 by Priya Ragu and Picking Berries by Lolo Zouaï.
The best song to seduce?
Anything by Alina Baraz honestly…
The best song to dance to?
I love Bhangra and Bollywood music to dance to. It’s just nostalgic and hits different for me. I would go for It’s the Time to Disco by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy or Ooh La La by Bappi Lahiri & Shreya Ghoshal.
The best song to wake up to?
Oxford Circus by Frex.
The song that lifts your mood up?
Get Well Soon by Ariana Grande.
The song that made you feel like singing for the first time?
Adele was one of the first big inspirations for me; her voice was just so beautiful and gave me chills. I remember listening to Set Fire To The Rain and wanting to sound like her and it really pushed me to start singing and performing.
The song you wish you had written yourself?
October Sky by Yebba or Nasty Girl by Sevyn Streeter. October Sky is written so beautifully and the melody choices compliment the sharp lyricism so well. I love that the Dawn album came from such a vulnerable place after Yebba lost her mother. This song always just makes me cry. It challenges me to want to dig deeper with my music and see it as a journal entry I’m sharing with the world, which is such an experience in itself. Nasty Girl, on the other hand, is just a fun, sexy song. I love it because to me, melodic choices are very important when it comes to creating. I love the hook Sevyn uses in this song and just her overall flow. I would love to create something like that!
The song that reminds you of your childhood?
Any 90’s A.R. Rahman song!
The song that represents you or your sound the best?
I think Universe represents me best. It’s such a perfect combination of soft, cinematic and powerful. It makes me want to stay in that world, and make more music that challenges people’s ears.