Published: 02nd March 2017
I don't think of myself as a star, really: Vidya Vox gets candid about music and mashups
Vidya Vox tells us all about where she learned her music from, how she styles herself and what life would be like without YouTube
Is there anyone in the civilized world who hasn't listened to Closer by The Chainsmokers on loop? Don't answer that. It's more rhetoric than anything else. But ask any Indian YouTube-savvy youngster to sing a few lines and chances are they'd go 'Re kabira..' right after '...we ain't ever getting older.'
You all know why. Because you're addicted to Vidya Iyer's (read Vidya Vox) mashup of both the songs. Did you notice that it has quietly racked upmore than 25 million views?
You don't need google to tell you who Vidya Vox is though you might need YouTube. Raised in Virginia, this Indian origin singer has created wonderful mashups and fusions and the internet went crazy about it. She had a few originals too. (You also went crazy about her stunning sense of fashion, didn't you?)
When she was busy shooting her new videos, recordings, tours and emails, Vidya found some time to catch up with us. We had so many questions for her about her life, music (and of course fashion!)
Was music always a part of growing up? Did you listen to a lot of Indian songs when you were in school?
Music has always been a part of my life. My grandmother is a singer, and she was one of my first teachers and always made learning music fun. My mom put in music class when I was 5! I’ve been learning since I’m still learning today. The process never stops!
I always used to listen to Indian music, it’s a part of me! Even now, I’m always listening to classical concerts and AR Rahman. It’s always so inspiring and beautiful
Vidya Vox, Singer and Youtuber
People from all over the world are fans of your mashups. Did you always have a liking for them?
It’s been so crazy and amazing all at the same time. When I put out my first video, I didn’t even imagine that people would see, let alone the scale it has gotten to now. I’m so grateful to all the people who have supported my journey so far, it’s all because of them! I’m not sure I knew I always loved mashups. Growing up in an immigrant family in the US was always an identity struggle for me. Here I was at home, speaking Tamil, eating dosas, singing bhajans and kritis, but when I went to school, I was listening to Destiny’s Child, Shakira, Usher and eating pizza. It always felt like two different worlds. I used to wonder if I could ever merge the two worlds - even if it was for a few minutes and that’s how I decided to mashups. It was quite organic when I sat down to record my first video!
Your mashups are brilliant. I can't think of any other YouTuber who'd have thought of mixing Kandukondein Kandukondein and Sorry. How do you generally get the idea?
Thank you! That particular mashup was Shankar Tucker’s idea. He's an amazing musician, producer and videographer (self-taught!). We usually take turns coming up with the mashups - it just happens naturally. We have a list of songs that we like that we refer to when we need ideas. When we happen to hear something on the radio, we refer to this list or think about fan requests or family requests and see what goes together. A lot of the time, the mashups don’t work, but when they do, it's the best feeling ever.
Do you enjoy doing mashups or solo covers more?
I enjoy both of them equally. I love doing solo covers - they are less pressure in terms of song arrangement! Mashups are great because each and every one we really have to think about how they will work together, and which parts meld with each other for transitions.
You have performed with many other artists. Whom did you enjoy working with the most?
All the artists I have collaborated with are amazing and are intentionally picked by me because I truly respect each one. They are all unique in the own way and always bring a beautiful flavor to the song and collaboration.
I don't have a stylist. It’s all me! I own a lot of the stuff I wear on camera and dress with that fusion naturally. I love experimenting with clothes and jewellery, they can be an amazing avenue to express yourself without saying a word
Vidya Vox, Singer
How are you liking the popularity as a YouTube star? Were there instances of you getting mobbed?
I don’t think of myself as a star really - I’m just so grateful that people are enjoying my music. As a musician, that’s the biggest dream - that your music reaches people’s ears and I’m living that dream! There were a few instances, mostly in airports in India which was totally unexpected!
What tips would you like to the give to the aspiring YouTubers out there?
I think it’s very important to be true to yourself and your art, whatever field that may be in. Haters and supporters alike come and go, so it’s important that you are true to your art and proud of every video that you put out.
So what's a normal day for Vidya Vox like?
Lots of work, emails and singing usually. I don’t have a normal set day as each day there is something different going on. I love it though, it keeps it interesting and on my toes!
Is it singing all the time or do you do anything else?
I love to read, play tennis, explore a new town through food and sleep