With the rise of social media, there has been the rise of photographers and people exploring their artistic side and being able to share it on platforms around the world.

Interview with Avanti Nagral

Introduce yourself!

Hi Overachiever fam! My name is Avanti, and I’m a singer/songwriter/creator from Bombay and Boston. I hope you’re all doing well during this craziness. 


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How has your musical journey evolved over the years? What motivated you to start, and how has music changed since then?

In addition to being a tech entrepreneur, my dad plays the tabla (Indian drums), so I grew up surrounded by it. Born in Boston, I did a lot of devotional music, and when I moved to Bombay at the age of eight. I started training in Indian classical music from my Guruji (teacher/mentor), Dr. Prabha Atre. I gravitated toward music pretty young, including playing the piano. As time went on, I experimented with different styles, including Broadway, as I did a lot of professional theatre in India. I also went to a Christian high school, so I was part of the choir and imbibed that sense of style as well. Of course, in recent years, I’ve been fortunate to learn from incredible vocal coaches at Berklee, as I was finishing up my dual degree at Harvard and the Berklee College of Music. You could say my musical background has been eclectic, but I see it all as a toolkit that I can draw from to continue to create and shape my sound. My sound is decidedly pop – but with a pinch of soul.

How has your South Asian background influenced your music/love of music and songwriting?

Having a strong foundation in Indian classical music has taught me more than just the fundamentals – it imbibed a sense of discipline in me, character, and respect for my heritage. I was surprised that even in my middle and high schools in India, learning and performing classical music was considered “uncool,” but to me, it was a way of having a deeper connection with my roots through a medium that I loved. My Guruji was also supportive of my experimentation with different forms, which has meant a lot to me. In South Asian culture, we have this concept called the Guru-Shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition), where traditional forms of knowledge are passed down through this system. I feel blessed to have been a part of it, and definitely think it has shaped both my musical and personal identity.

Who are your most influential inspirations in music and everything?

Definitely my Guruji, my parents, and mentors. I have a propensity toward strong female pop voices and soulful, unique ones. Tori Kelly, Kelly Clarkson, Reshma, Kavita Seth, Jasleen Royal, Demi Lovato, just to name a few. I am also incredibly inspired by folks who are able to use their voices and their platforms across the board – whether that is someone like a Selena Gomez, an AOC, or a Michelle Obama.

You recently graduated and earned a degree in the Harvard/Berklee dual degree program, where you got a BA from Harvard University and a master’s at Berklee College of Music in five years. Why do you think the program was a great fit for you, and how has it helped fulfill your educational wants and needs?

I am so grateful for the existence of programs like these that support creatives with intellectual passions or vice versa. I was able to have both breadth and depth across a variety of disciplines, with equal rigor. I think programs like these are great fits for people with interdisciplinary interests. For me, studying Psychology and Global Health at Harvard was feeding my mind while sharpening my craft at Berklee was feeding my soul. It was extremely important to me to have a well-rounded education and equip myself with knowledge, tools, and a community of like-minded individuals. I don’t think higher education is the only answer to that, but I do think that is is a wonderful option.

Your newest single, “The Long Way,” beautifully describes a long-distance relationship and how love prevails despite the pandemic and trials and tribulations surrounding it. The music video perfectly encapsulates these feelings, and the final product is so adorable! What was the process behind the music video, and what do you hope for your listeners and viewers to take away from this song and the video?

Thank you for your kind words!! I’ve been in a relationship for the past four years, and we’ve been long-distance for two. Until the pandemic hit, being in a long-distance relationship was not necessarily relatable, because, for most, it was an active choice. Unfortunately, now it’s all too relatable, as we are all separated from someone we love – partners, friends, family. Distance is just one part of it, though; there are many other ways to go the long way for love. It was incredibly important to me to share different narratives, particularly those that we don’t often see represented on screen, and having Adi and Amit and Kerryanne and Mike Gordon alongside my partner and myself was like a dream. It felt so meaningful to be able to share three stories across three different countries of 3 couples who have all gone the long way for love. 

What do you find most fulfilling about pursuing music as a career? What can be frustrating?

Music has the ability to reach someone’s heart, and if you can touch someone’s heart or soul, I think that is the most beautiful thing. I am extremely cognizant of the platform that you are afforded as a musician, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I hope to both use my voice and be a voice, and being able to build a community, particularly those of young women, is so beautiful when you can see your work, what you stand for, and your songs make an impact on someone’s day, personal narrative or the way in which they think. The frustrating parts are the lack of structure, control over the outcomes, rejection, the unknown, and the carving out of a totally unique path for yourself. There are no guarantees in this line of work, so really loving it matters.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Asian women today? 

Representation, across the board. And a lack of solidarity among the community. Asian women today grow up with the beautiful balance of access to education and opportunity that didn’t exist a short while ago, as well as a spirit of interdependence and community. Figuring out how to use that to our strength will be key. There is a LONG way to go when it comes to the gender equity gap, but the more women we have who are vocal and supportive of one another, the larger our collective voices will become.

Any advice you have for the talented Asian ladies who are trying to get involved in music?

There are so many ways to get involved – not just at the artist level! There are opportunities in management, business, publishing, entertainment law, and more. Remember that any creative industry takes as much, if not more, work than a traditional industry and that you have to be equally dedicated to your craft as you are to your business sense. It’s not easy, but there are incredible opportunities!

What’s next for you? Any exciting projects?

Yes!! I have a release next month, and several more in the pipeline, both in English and in Hindi and other regional languages. There is a lot happening in the content space as well, and I’m excited to talk about some new partnerships very soon. Stay tuned!

 

Bombay and Boston based artist Avanti thrives at the intersection of pop and soul. She is on a mission to create music that challenges societal norms. Avanti’s music bridges social impact and aims to reclaim the way young girls see themselves around the world. With songs in English, Hindi, Marathi, and Punjabi on the way – empowerment and global sounds are key.

To listen to her music click here.

 

Links:

Website: http://avantinagral.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/avantimusicofficial

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/avantinagral/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/avantinagral/

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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