In Conversation With: Ananya

Ananya, a rising star within the music scene who seems to be destined for nothing but greatness if her short career so far has anything to do with it. Born in Zimbabwe and now currently London based, Ananya, has allowed her work to not be limited to just the music and has ventured into other spaces and creativities.

With a commendable fashion career and a exceptional display of patriotism with her work with The Nani Wellness Project, Ananya is a surging force to be reckoned with. After a series of sonic releases, in the last year she finally released a lengthier body of work in the form of her EP, i woke up one night, to which she says came to her mostly in her dreams.

Below we got to chat with Ananya about the EP and much more…

Ananya, first things first, I’d love for us to speak a bit about The Nani Wellness Project. I think it’s incredible work you are doing there…

Yeah sure, The Nani Wellness Project is a platform and app that offers free mental health care to Zimbabweans, The whole idea behind it stems from understanding how important mental health care is for everyone but also knowing that it is expensive and not affordable and accessible to most people, more especially for the people back home in Zim. So this initiative was about giving people a space where they feel comfortable but also an accessible way to seek help.

And how’s it been going so far?

We launched in December 2022 and it’s been going really well, I’m lucky to be working on it with a dear friend of mine, Tony, who over the period of the pandemic taught me a lot about mental health.

And I’d assume, based on that at some point you’d love to expand it beyond the Zim borders?

Yes, Definitely! But I think more than anything else, it’s really important to raise awareness and bring the message across that it is okay to go through stuff, we are human afterall.

Getting back into the music, what are some of the earliest memories of music you can trace back to?

Growing up in such a loud home, I have three siblings, so we were quite a lot at home. My mom always encouraged us to find a way to entertain ourselves by being creative – whether that was singing a new song or learning a theatre play – we were always encouraged to make do with the day. From there music was always playing in the house and I more than anything appreciated how it took me to a completely different world even though at that age I probably couldn’t understand the feeling.

I know, beyond the music, you are also involved in other creative spaces including fashion. But would you say music found priority at some point?

Yes, and that’s because I describe music as my best friend, it’s always been there and offered a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold. Through every thing in my life I’ve always turned to music, so I do think it did take priority cause of this but I’m lucky that they go hand in hand (music and fashion). I think they are both forms of expression, languages without words and something that all of us can understand.

Take us a bit in your conceptualising and overall approach to your music and projects?

I think it differs each time, for the last EP (i woke up one night) I was inspired greatly by my dreams, which was very new to me because I’m usually inspired by so many other different things. So I think I just take it as it comes to me than I sit at my piano, guitar or at times my journal if the words come before the music.

You mentioned the EP came from your dreams, how does that than come to life practically?

I mean it’s not exactly dreaming of lyrics but more the story and my reaction to that story when I wake up. For example with gone (forever), which is the first single from the EP, I woke up and was so inspired by the me I had dreamt of – she was bold and knew what she wanted, she left situations in a strong and perfect way and I woke up thinking “wow! I wish I could be like her”. I still think of her as a point of reference and inspired the writing of the song.

Because of the nature in which the music came to you this time around, do you feel that you may have strayed completely away from the themes and manner in which you’d record your music prior to this EP?

Not necessarily, of course the point of inspiration is different but the creation of it was mostly the same but also with the element of collaboration this time around.

Collaborating was something new on this EP, and I think it really opened my eyes and I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with so many talented people. Two birds are better than one, so it’s been an incredible experience to meet other creatives, musicians and people to work together with to make the final product.

And how’s the reception been so far?

It’s been incredible, I feel so lucky that anyone out there can listen to this music from a point of relation and use it to feel better – that’s been the greatest gift to me.

Performing it live has also been a beautiful experience, it’s been my first time performing with a live band. So it’s been surreal hearing live instruments playing the song I’d only ever heard on software and in studio while also seeing the audience feed off of that energy.

Speaking of reception, you’ve had somewhat of a relationship with the South African audience. How’s that been?

I actually feel blessed, I went to South Africa all the time growing up and part of this EP was actually recorded in Cape Town. I feel lucky to know that you guys are listening to my music that side and I hope I’ll be able to come visit soon. It feels like a second home to me.

How have you found the rolling out of the project to have gone so far? I mean rolling out implies also having to do stuff like this where you are speaking to random strangers from across the world [laughs]…

I think it’s been an essential step, I mean, with each day you learn something new and as a newcomer in the industry I think it’s important to experience that as early as you can. I’m learning so much as it goes along and that’s invaluable.

How would you ideally want a listener to receive this somewhat personal songs that stemmed from your dreams?

Most importantly I want them to feel somehow connected to what the songs are about. This because I know how music has helped me through my own life. In almost every step I’ve taken, there’s a song I can refer to and sometimes I question how did the singer know this is what I’m going through or feeling. So I hope that my music can provide that to someone someday.