I have been given the chance to speak with Ishani…
and ask her about the new track, Insomnia. She tells me how it came together and why she has a great love of Trip-Hop – I ask about her Asian background and whether that affects her music and mindset.
The songwriter reveals the gigs she has coming up and what new material is coming up; what she wants to accomplish before the end of the year; the artists she grew up around; what advice she would give to upcoming musicians – she tells me why Michael Jackson is a particularly strong influence.
Hi, Ishani. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m great, thanks. It was my birthday on 10th, so I’ve been celebrating all-week-long.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Ishani. I’m a singer-songwriter, producer - and I make Trip-Hop/Alt-Pop music.
Tell me about Insomnia. What inspired the track’s creation?
Insomnia is a love song to people struggling with sleeplessness and anxiety. I wrote it when I was going through it. I tend to sing about my life and experiences as I find it cathartic.
Obviously, there are concerns around sleeplessness. Do you think, with sleep-deprivation, there are positive aspects? Does it aid creativity?
A lot of artistic people feel like they do their best work at night; when you feel like everyone else is asleep. But, it is so important to maintain good sleep hygiene - especially in today's world, where our minds are constantly thinking. Our minds are so exposed to gadgets and other distractions. We aren’t just living our physical lives but a digital one and we have to shut off from both to sleep.
So, sometimes, we fail to maintain healthy boundaries. Sleep is so important for good physical and mental-health and we can take it for granted. I still definitely need a lot more sleep than I get.
What was it like working with producer Dan Clarke (Zaflon) on the track?
Co-producing the song with Dan was fantastic.
He is a great guy and he gets me and what I’m all about. He also works for Key Changes, which promotes positive mental-health through music. I resonated with this approach completely. I’m so glad that we have had this chance to work together. He is so talented and passionate about music. His solo work as Zaflon is really cool and different. Definitely check it out.
Is there going to be more material coming later in the year?
We are now working on my E.P., Stormy Emotions! Insomnia is the first of four tracks. The next single drops next month. Can’t wait to share it with you! I’m excited!
You lived in the South of England before spending the majority of your childhood in India. How much of your Asian upbringing do you inject into your music, either sonically or philosophically?
Being brought up-between two different cultures, I’ve always felt different. I’m a bit of a rebel. My core family is very supportive but I feel like I’ve had to fight society. I write about taboo subjects that we didn’t talk about in Asian communities. One of my previous songs was about violence against women, for example. I write songs to empower other people.
I’m a self-taught musician and I feel like some of the melodies I write are influenced by the songs I listened to growing up in India in the '90s.
Who are the artists you grew up around? Is there someone who struck in the mind from a young age?
Michael Jackson’s album Dangerous was huge for me growing up. It was definitely one of the albums that made me want to be a musician. As I grew older, I fell in love with Alternative-Rock and then Trip-Hop - bands like Massive Attack and Portishead for example. However, I’ve retained Michael Jackson’s interest in using music for social change and, so, that is a big part of me and my music.
It is clear you are doing something new with Trip-Hop. What is it about the genre that attracts you to experiment and push?
I love all music, but I find Trip-Hop exceptionally delicious. There is something so sexy about it. I feel like there is some unsaid code between Trip-Hop lovers. I’ve always wanted to be part of that movement but it was over by the time I started pursuing my musical career, so I’m trying to bring it back! In fact, some people hate the term ‘Trip-Hop’ but I quite like it. I’m not sure how my music will evolve but it’s the genre that’s closed to my soul.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
I’m actually doing a gig next week in Peckham at The Four Quarters. I’m part of EVO (Electronic Voices in Overdrive). I’ve got lots more lined up throughout the year, which you can follow on my Facebook page.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Get my E.P., Stormy Emotions, out there! I’m also working on a side-project, a new band. It’s still pretty hush-hush but we are in the studio working hard.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I’m not sure it is my favourite memory but my first gig was to an audience of 3,000 people at B my Lake festival! It was insane. I’d never even played a pub before. The microphone was too high for me and I was nervous as hell but somehow I got through it and loved every second. Now, whenever I’m feeling nervous, I remember that if I could do that, I can do this.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Don’t give up, always believe in yourself and be genuine and true to your art. Love the people who support you. Give them lots of love back. In today’s world, people consume music in such a different way. It’s easy to get lost in a world of trends and hype. Seek out real people to work with and don’t let the haters get you down.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I do yoga to chill. It’s part of my ancient culture and that’s something I try to keep up. Plus, it helps me unwind. I'm also hooked on Mario Odyssey, on my Switch. I love the level, Lake Kingdom. It’s beautiful and soooooo relaxing!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I would love to hear Deadcrush by alt-J. Thanks so much!