Beacon of hope in melody
UAE-based singer and songwriter Varsha Vinn shares how music became a guiding light in her life
Hailing from South India with passion for music running through her veins, rising talent Varsha Srikanthan, better known as Varsha Vinn, knew at a very young age that she was destined to pursue a career in creative arts, despite obstacles that stood her way. "The need to be heard, to have a voice, to talk about my story and put pen to paper to describe everything about my life is what drove me to be a full-time musician. I wanted to do the impossible, to prove to myself that I can certainly use the talent and build on it and make something great and timeless out of it," she said.
Just as any other child, Varsha was one full of hopes and dreams. With her mother's help, she sought to sharpen her abilities through singing shows, beauty pageants, theatre and competitions, and even trained to sing in several languages, before settling on English lyrics.
But at the age of nine, her life took an unexpected turn with the death of her father, which led to dark days.
"I became extremely rebellious during these years of my life. I questioned everything and felt the need to pave my own path. When I was 14, I found a way to voice all of this through song writing."
When a teacher realised her potential, and recommended an exchange programme in the US, Varsha set off on journey of self-discovery, seizing opportunity one at a time.
"I felt suffocated in a place where people either expected you to be an engineer or a doctor. I wanted to get out. After a rigorous selection process, I was chosen as one of the 30 students amongst 300 applicants from India, to study in a high school in the US, live with an American family and be a part of a cultural exchange programme. This was the time I had witnessed true growth as an individual and knew what I wanted to be. A musician. A performer. A songwriter," she said.
Taking inspiration from her 'host dad' in the US, who was a country music guitarist, she began recording demo songs in studios and pitching them to people. Faced with rejection but also constructive criticism, she'd applied to the Berklee College of Music, known for its best song writing programme, and set off to search for a sponsor to fund her education.
"I had this fire and I didn't know any of them personally. I was young and I just felt like I could do anything I put my mind to. Naturally, all of them said no and thought that my dream was crazy! But I kept pushing," she said. Luck struck when a family friend approached with a sponsorship on behalf of a charity programme, and the rest was history.
Several co-writing sessions and songs later, she now stands on proud as an established singer and songwriter that has received over 500,000 views for her latest music video, Reveal Me, on Youtube.
Her style features a lot of pop, ventured a little into hip-hop and rap, with rock and country music influences. "I like to experiment and not put myself in a box. The tunes are definitely catchy and easy to sing along to, but always emphasise on depth and meaning behind the lyrics. Emotional delivery is the most important thing to me while creating music," she said.
Now Varsha is based in Dubai, courtesy of renowned producer Ali Mustafa who had been following her work via Instagram and invited her to work on songs together.
"He believed in me from the beginning and produced some really good songs for me (which will be released throughout the course of the year). Dubai feels like home at this point," she added.
Looking ahead, Varsha aims to be a successful performer, songwriter, recording artist, travel and inspire people, while providing a good life for her mom.
"I just want to finish what I started and maybe help budding musicians in India and set up a fund for creative minds, inspire young women in India to pursue what they want, fearlessly, spark an edge and provide support in any way possible," she concluded.
I write about my life experiences. I'm very vulnerable with my writing; there is absolutely no filter. I write about broken relationships, betrayal, my journey in the industry, in the society as a woman and every experience I go through, I turn it into a song. My song writing is very autobiographical in nature.
My favourite song I've written so far is MUSE (unreleased). It's very poetic; it actually started as a poem, which turned into a song. It talks about a woman who comes into her own, realises her worth and exuberates confidence, love, beauty, and strength and sets the bar high for anybody who dares to love her. It was about a phase I went through last year, which made me challenge myself and grow. It's honestly my favourite piece of music I've created.
For the dreamers. Be fearless, work smartly, focus on your mental health, don't listen to the voices around and follow your gut, hone your skills and learn something new every day, reach out and network and don't ever doubt yourself, even when the universe gives you every reason to. Have a set goal and go towards it, but also give time for yourself and your family. Find a balance.
|Message for Independence Day|
As I grow older, I realise that I'm proud to be where I'm from, the morals and values that have been instilled in me by my mother have really shaped me into who I am. I love going to India, to unwind, breathe in the air of my country, connect with the energies of a thousand generations and their stories and indulge in the culture. This is where all the magic started in my life and it will always be home.