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Quirks & Queries: In conversation with Anushka Manchanda

The video for Don’t Be Afraid is exceptionally symbolic. With all the metaphors, do you think it could be overwhelming for the viewer? 

With this video we have been true to our expression, without thinking about what kind of viewer we were catering to. We did not tailor make this video for anyone. However, we were clear that we wanted to produce a certain kind of quality, and we wanted to create an emotional connection and impact. As artists we want you to feel something. As viewers we have access to so much visual information, being constantly bombarded with content, we have become desensitised. Something has to shake you out of that to make you sit up and take notice.

Tell us a bit about the ethos you have created with the music and the visuals. 

Sonically I started layering the track quite a bit at a later stage. I wanted it to be dark and moody, and then fill with life when it arrives at the chorus. I worked on it more after I started editing the video, doing a kind of musical foley work, because I wanted this to be an audio visual experience. Once the visuals started coming together on the edit table, the opening had started to look eerie. It was then that we decided to push it all the way in that direction, picking shots and treating them to be freakier than they actually were, speeding up and reversing bits, jumping them, etc. Even the grade of the video has a story to tell. Going from dark and moody in the opening, to dreamy in the underwater section, and finally quite saturated and full of colour in the end section.

Amidst the overarching elegance, there is an undercurrent of darkness. Things ending, people in pain. How often do you see the world through this lens of suffering? 

Art is a reflection of the times. Look around you. What do you see? We are in a state of destruction. I could create art that helps you to escape it, but we are distracted and apathetic enough as it is. What I see in the world around me, is what you see through my art. The photo story I did called Mute, the first project I did via Nuka, is also in the same line of thought. I never really thought about this though, that this is the way I view the world, and this question evokes a deep sense of hurt in my chest. I’m struggling to answer as I type this. I don’t want to talk about pain. I don’t want to chronicle suffering. But I can only express what I truly feel. And even then, when I am in the lap of nature. None of this matters. Then everything is beautiful. I feel whole.

How long have you spent conceptualising this piece of art? 

The track has been produced over a year and a half, simply because I didn’t have what I considered the right outlet to release it, the video took 6 months from the time we started talking about it, up until the day it was ready.

Tell us a bit about the experiences that shaped this song and video. 

The track was originally called Open Arms, and was written from the point of view of a tree. That this beautiful magnificent wise old tree opens out its branches and sings to you. I will hold you close, with these open arms. So don’t be afraid. I am a child of nature, happiest when I am in the lap of it. When I was 22 all the songs I wrote were about heartbreak, because that was the worst thing that I had to experience. Now things are different. I look at the world differently. I can only write and sing about what I am feeling. An authentic expression of my thoughts.

With the video it was all the work Navzar and I had already done together, the kind of time and energy we have exchanged, years of talking about, arguing passionately about things, how we have grown together as artists, inspiring and pushing each other. All of this has led to what you finally see.

If you had to talk about Don’t Be Afraid to someone who knows nothing about you or your work, what would you say? 

I’d be like, Hey see this video. It will be absolutely clear to you what kind of artist I am, what I want to be. Still, it does not encompass my sound scape or my agenda with visual expression. Wait till I show you what’s coming next!

What is the one thing that everyone should remember about the song/video? 

It is our connection with nature. Nature has always nurtured us, given us everything we need. Now it’s our turn to look after her. Remember the moment in the video I come to life again, growing from the earth, my energy evolving into and becoming once with Mother Nature. Remember that when you use paper, one time use plastic, non bio degradable sanitary pads. It’s all polluting this earth and we will go back to this earth too. And also, that everybody has some shit going on. Things are not always what they seem. So don’t be afraid because we are in this together.

What are the feelings you wish to inspire with your art? 

A connection with nature, an emotional reaction that may change your perception of a few things.

Say hi to our readers, won’t you? They’d love to know anything you have to say about the song or otherwise. 

I am looking for you, if you are looking for me. So reach out and connect. I want to know what you feel. How you feel. You have something to say? To exchange with me? Please find me. And do it. If you see me somewhere, come and have a conversation. Let’s connect.


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