In Conversation with Subhi

Transcript Credit: Punam Patel, Publishing Assistant at Anara Publishing.

Last year, Anara Publishing started a new series of Instagram Live sessions called “In Conversation With”, where once a month we have an in-depth chat with one of our artists about their upcoming plans. In one of our first sessions, we were joined by Jazz/ Pop artist, Subhi. A singer-songwriter who combines the worlds of Hindi and American pop to create a captivating sound that is poetic and contemporary. 

For those who are new to your music, where did it all begin? 

I started getting into music full time at the end of 2012. I was a singer-songwriter and only wrote on the side, I was doing it more as a hobby. I never thought it could be a viable career option until I started working with Mira Nair, she had this Broadway series called Monsoon Wedding Musical (in New York) and I was the music intern. I had to create all these reference tracks, and it gave me so much happiness, I thought this is what I should do for my whole life. So, in 2012, I decided to be a full-time musician. That’s just how the journey began. Initially, I had this craze of getting into Bollywood and writing songs for Bollywood. I was doing a lot of back and forth between Mumbai, New York, and Chicago, then I eventually realised that I also want to create my own music, and I have my own style, so I became an indie artist. Here we are today.

Who would you say is being like your biggest influences on your music so far?

That’s a tricky one. In terms of Hindi, I would say I’m a big fan of R. D Berman. In terms of my English music, it’s kind of really tricky to pinpoint because I listen to a lot of different music. I grew up listening to The Beatles, The Carpenters and Abba. I’m also a big fan of Passenger, and of course I love Billie Eilish and Finneas, I mean, their music is minimalistic and amazing. It’s a whole mix.

What’s been your favourite part of working with an Anara Publishing so far?

I’m so glad to be a part of Anara Publishing because through Anara, I get to meet a lot of other artists and producers who I work with separately as well. When I joined, I was so glad to be a part of your first songwriter sync camp, because I met Ed Geater through that, and since then we’ve been working together. I think the best part of working with Anara is that through these camps, I always meet lots of different artists. It really opens the door to meeting other musicians and working with them.

Last year, you released “Water Raft” which is a song that came out of your partnership with Ed Geater (through the Anara Publishiing songwriting camp). Can you tell us a little bit more about the process behind that song? What was your inspiration behind it, and what reception has the song had since it’s been released?

I remember reaching out to you to see if I can work with Ed individually, so we both started doing Zoom sessions. We would talk about love, life and our better halves; I know you also sent us some briefs to get our mind going so we could brainstorm ideas. While working on these briefs, Ed started playing on his guitar, and I started coming up with melody ideas, before we knew, we were already writing and creating a song. That’s what this song was about, 100% collaboration. I feel we both wrote melodies on it, we both wrote lyrics on it, we both sang it, and I feel we really complemented each other; it was one of the most natural ways I have collaborated with any producer and it just it just felt amazing. I’ve never met Ed in-person, he’s in UK and I’m in the US, but it was amazing that we figured out the time zones and worked around it.

Since connecting with a UK based artist, have your stats gone up from UK listeners? Do you feel that you’ve expanded your audience by doing that collaboration?

Yes, it’s really interesting. I saw through Spotify stats that India was my number one listening audience, followed by US, followed by other countries. When ‘Water Raft’ was released, the UK was number one, and then UK and India kept doing this back and forth. I am so grateful that Spotify also added ‘Water Raft’ as the feature track on Fresh Finds, I feel like that got the song a lot of traction as well.

You’ve also collaborated with quite a few different producers on your English tracks that you’ve released. How do you usually choose to collaborate with someone? How do you find them and how do you know that they’re going to be a good fit for your music?

I have collaborated with a lot of different producers in LA, Nashville, and Mumbai. I think first, I listen to their music; I really try to understand if their music or their sensibilities can complement my music in any way. Then I reach out to them and if they’ve heard about me, that’s great. If they’ve not, I really want to know that they like my work because that’s important, right? When you’re collaborating with someone, you want to work with them, but do they want to work with you? So, I feel like that’s important. I think, when I work with a producer, and I feel that it’s very natural to work with them, we understand each other’s musical language, and we’re very comfortable working with each other. Previously, I have had collaborations where I work with someone on a song and I didn’t have as much fun as I would want to, or they aren’t as receiving as I would like them to be regarding my ideas, or the result is not something that I’m very proud of, but that’s only happened maybe once or twice. You both must be comfortable with each other’s style of working. 

Just to take a step away from music slightly, you welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world last year, so I wanted to touch on you being an independent artist and a parent at the same time. You’re a superwoman! As a woman in the music industry, it can sometimes be quite difficult to make the decision about when is the right time to start a family, so I’d love to get your thoughts on this and hear how you balance your time.

I’m sure for most women, this is something which is always on their mind. I’ve been married for 9 years, but initially I had this fear of getting married, because what happens to my career? Then the fear was what happens when I have a baby? I feel like for women, that’s always something which is at the back of our minds. It’s the same with age, right? With the way things are going right now, celebrities seem to be really embracing these things, sharing their personal lives a lot has almost become like a new trend, which I also feel has opened doors for a lot of people in the entertainment industry. So, I think with me, I’m actually grateful because my baby boy has taught me the value of time. My time is not that flexible now, so I think I have become a more efficient artist. I have a very short periods of time in which I must create, so when I’m creating, I’m extremely focused. I think less about the whole process, I’m doing it more as it comes to me, it’s more instinctual. So, I feel like in that sense, it’s been a very positive experience. 

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming songwriters who are starting out in the industry? Looking back maybe five years ago, what would you like to have been told?

In terms of advice, I would say, do what you feel is right for you. I feel as an artist, we’re always put pulled left, right and centre. A lot of times you are tempted to follow trends, but trends change, what’s most important is that you write about what you feel. I’ve realised the songs that are very true to who I am as a person, are the most well received. At one point, I would always compare myself to other artists and I feel now I’m very content with the way things are going. You will have to pay your dues before you get what you want to get, so hang in there be patient. If you do it for long enough, if you do it with all your zest, energy and passion, then honestly, anything is achievable. Just believe in yourself and your music.

If you’d like to learn more about Subhi, collaborate with her or license one of her songs, please contact the Anara Publishing team.  Find out more about Subhi’s artistry on her social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, Website.