UK-based singer Arzutraa Garielle is leaving a mark on the music scene in India with her soulful tracks. In conversation with Hashtag India she talks about her beginnings as a non-native Hindi speaker, why she loves Shreya Ghoshal, and what she has in line for the year…
Tell us about your association with music. When did you start?
I started learning at the age of 11. I used to sing along to Bollywood songs and record my voice on my father’s tape recorder then play it back. I got really insecure about the sound of my voice because I thought it sounded like a man’s. I used to think my voice sounded like a man’s voice. I then decided to sing along to the female voices of Bollywood in an attempt to improve the sound of my voice. I didn’t think I wanted to become a singer at that time. It was only during University that I decided I wanted to learn how to sing. I started singing live then, and was introduced to my current producer fortunately who has stayed with me for two albums now.
Despite being from the UK, you have an immense love for Bollywood music. How did this happen?
I used to watch Bollywood movies with my father, and we’d have Bollywood songs playing in the car. I was surrounded by Bollywood everywhere during my childhood. I could never understand the language but I could relate to the clothes and the music. The melodies mesmerised me, and have influenced a lot of my work.
We are told you were discouraged in your initial years from singing in Hindi, because you didn’t speak the language. How did you overcome these barriers?
Since I don’t know the language, it was believed I wouldn’t be taken seriously. I decided that I wanted to follow my inner calling, and signed up for Hindi speaking lessons to improve my diction. It’s the hardest thing I have done in my life.
Is it true that your debut album Woh Pal, was inspired by Bollywood singer Shreya Ghosal, your early idol? Did you get to meet Shreya, what about her inspires you?
I was obsessed with the way she sang. I looked up to Shreya Ji wishing one day I would be a singer just like her. I listened to her daily for ten years, paying attention. I used to repeat her lines a thousand times over. The emotion in her voice enthralls me.
What next? Any other big plans in the pipeline?
I am proud to announce I have started working on my 3rd album. This one will be totally different to my previous two albums. I want to give something new to my fans. I’ve had to reinvent myself for this one.
Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I dream of collaborating with Aamir Khan to do playback for one of his movies. In addition, Atif Aslam too. I really adore him.
You have been doing online shows/concerts for your fans and covid patients. Do you miss performing on stage with a live audience?
I do miss being on stage. Nothing can replace stage performances. I have been booked for a lot of Zoom events during lockdown and I think is great we have the technology to bring events to people directly. The only thing is the vibe isn’t the same and there are certainly so many technological issues with online shows.
What do you think is the future of concerts given covid?
I do feel concerts will return. I am confident they have to return. Art and entertainment is a fundamental part of everyone’s life. Artists and audiences simply cannot survive without live entertainment.
Your all time favourite song – Dheere Dheere Se
Two things you love about India – Food and Fashion
Your dream team would consist of… – Aamir Khan and Atif Aslam
Your personal favourite amongst your own albums – Zaalim