Vaishalini is an up-and-coming South Asian musical artist and songwriter who has recently debuted her single “Watch Your Step.” Even within her first year making music, Vaishalini has made waves, reaching 15k streams this year alone. Recently, one of AYCE’s board members, Nina Ulaganathan, spoke to Vaishalini for a phone interview to discuss her song, along with her ambitions for the musical industry.
Below is the unedited transcript of the interview. Consent has been provided by both parties.
Nina: When did you start getting interested in making music?
Vaishalini: So, I’ve been kind of surrounded by music for my whole life. I do take Indian Classical Music lessons and I’ve grown up with music generally. My dad would play jazz constantly in the house, and like Amy Winehouse, and we’d also listen to soft rock. I got into musical theater in high school, and because I’ve been learning music for so long it just felt like the next step was to make music of my own.
Nina: Yeah for sure! You know, you were talking about the different genres of music you enjoy listening to, in the future, or, honestly even now, who is an artist that would be your dream collab?
Vaishalini: It would be really cool if I could collaborate with an artist like Victoria Monét, or The Weeknd. They all have very special sounds.
Nina: I could totally see that, they for sure fit the vibe of your music!
Vaishalini: Yeah! They’re definitely some of my favorite R&B artists that I listen to, so it would be really cool to work with them.
Nina: Now that you have your latest single out, Watch Your Step, what is your writing/music making process? Do you have a specific routine or is it more spontaneous?
Vaishalini: It sort of changes up depending on the song, sometimes I start on the background itself, and I start writing vocals, and then I write the lyrics. Usually lyrics come last for every song I make. Sometimes I mumble words while writing the vocals, and some of those lyrics will end up in the actual song. I’ll also at times think of an idea in the middle of the night and write down the lyrics on my phone. But yeah, it really depends. I do the background production and vocal writing at the same time, and I’ll just lay it all out, and it’ll be really fast, or sometimes we’ll start with a really idea for the production and I’ll figure out how to lay out the vocals on top of that.
Nina: What is this specific single Watch Your Step, about?
Vaishalini: Watch Your Step is a very defiant, powerful song about proving and asserting your self-worth when underestimated or done wrong, and it's very empowering and fierce. It’s sort of the message I like to communicate in all of my music. I like to make people feel empowered in whatever they do because I think it's very easy to lose sight of yourself.
Nina: I just want to say I’ve listened to all of your music and the empowering nature of it is one of my favorite things.
Vaishalini: Thank you so much! That’s so special, thank you.
Nina: Of course! So, we talked in previous interviews about how you are a South Asian creative in a largely white and male dominated industry. As a woman of color, what steps do you think need to be taken in the music industry to diversify who is represented?
Vaishalini: Yeah! So, when I was growing up there weren’t a lot of South Asian artists and honestly there still aren’t very many, but there’s a lot more now that are in mainstream Western media. I also often see that South Asian representation is often limited to comedy, most South Asian characters are solely there for comedic purposes. But I think I really want to see more South Asian artists be empowered and have their music and art come to life, outside of Western Representation of what they think South Asians are.
Nina: Yes for sure! I also think that because of how low representation for South Asians is, we tend to be satisfied if the little representation we get is derogatory or stereotypical. So, I just want to thank you for taking representation into your hands and breaking away from those stereotypes.
Vaishalini: Yeah, I definitely want to be an artist that people can connect with, and I hope that future generations can feel that someone who looks like them is represented.