“Can I call you back in 5 minutes?”, she asked politely when I was tardy to have called a little later than scheduled. And here I was, thinking if I had just disturbed one of her reveries into music. Her life doesn’t revolve around work because she lives her passion and I was wrong to presume. This story is about a singer-songwriter, and how she didn’t leave one aspect of her life to pursue her passion.
Tanya Nambiar was out for a walk with her dog, a golden retriever called ‘Laila’, when I called her. She is a dog person.
“I am one of those people who are obsessed with dogs. When I see a dog at a party, everything else is forgotten.”
When I asked her as to what her day looked like, she replies in a very casual tone,
“Get up, scroll through Facebook, get some bed tea, and start planning my day.”
When you’re on your own, you have the leisure to choose your hours, but then you also have to take the onus upon yourself to think as to how you will sustain yourself doing what you do. Tanya had been a sales manager before she started singing full-time and she rose hard and fast to the position where there were 30 something people working alongside her and she achieved this feat at the age of 24.
Even when she was juggling two things at a time, she made sure whatever she did, was the best she could do, and kept doing so by finding people who continue to motivate her.
“If you have that fire in you, no matter how many people tell that you can’t, you will always find a way to make it happen! I hope that the light I kindled keeps me going for as long as possible.”
Tanya didn’t start off as a Youtube celebrity. So how did it all begin?
Tanya Nambiar is a Delhi girl who comes from an average family and she has been an average kid during her childhood. Her father runs a courier business and her mother is an educationist. Talking to her about her childhood never made me feel like she wanted to be a singer right from a young age. Rather she looked like someone who wanted to be an entertainer, a performer, much like the artists she grew up listening to.
She reminisces rides in their first car, a Maruti 800 when her father used to play Eagles, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder.
“My dad introduced me to Madonna. I still remember I dressed up as Madonna in my first fancy dress competition. I was the dark Madonna.” she says chortling.
Madonna has been her idol ever since. She was fascinated watching Madonna’s interviews, the way she carried herself, and, the glamorous life she lived. Each of Madonna’s video songs was like an artwork to her and the fact that she could rock a live show, any live show.
Tanya used to sing using her comb as a mic and have the mirror as an audience. But she never looked at music to build a career as it was never looked upon as a stable choice to make a living then. She skipped through the thought of different careers, by 9th she wanted to be a fashion designer, by 10th she wanted to something else. But each of these choices were creative ones. She used to participate in singing competitions, became a part of her school band, and even picked up theatre during her college.
Her childhood wasn’t as flashy as it sounds. Yes, she had a lot of aspirations, but who doesn’t? She tells me she isn’t too fond of her childhood either.
“I was bullied a lot. If you have specks, you’re chasmish and if you’re dark toned, you’re teased for it. Unfortunately, I was dark, I had specks, and, I had braces.” she says bothered but determined nonetheless.
These incidents and remarks tested her confidence but she didn’t let this make a dent on her spirits.
“You know sometimes when you hit a rock bottom, the only way to go is up. It sparked a fire in me, to do something, to show these people that I could do a lot.”
She started college in history honors. Even then she wanted to sustain herself, she had seen her parents go through a hard time providing for the family. She used to complete her college hours and head out for whatever work she could find. She worked in events showcasing products, volunteering, and helping, and that’s how she learned how to sell things. As she developed an interest in selling she also pursued a job in the second year of college at an online fashion portal as a tele-caller. I could see how her interests were widespread but had the same basis as that of an artist. Selling too, to some extent is an art.
While her peers were moving on to pursue higher degrees, she continued to work jobs. She worked with a media sales company as a corporate sales manager for magazines like Maxim, Sports Illustrated, and Travel which was her last job.
“The prospect of targets was really interesting at the time. I felt good about myself that I was doing something and earning my own.”
Your inspiration towards anything can come from anywhere. I say this because even in Tanya’s life, her inclination towards singing was there, but the time when she decided to leave her job and pursue singing full-time wasn’t a decision taken on a whim. Her brother Karan, who is a musician as well, but in a completely different genre of music (death metal), has a critical role to play in her decision to inspire her to pick music as a profession.
“My brother started as a musician before I did. He was in a death metal band, a genre that caters to a small set of people and has lesser commercial . This proved to be a tipping point for me, if he can do it, why can’t I?”
It was really important for her to test herself in front of people. When people started telling her that she was very good, and questioned as to why didn’t she have her own band. These compliments gave her confidence a really good boost. She took a practical route towards her decision rather than an instinctive one. She made a pros and cons list as to what will be the repercussions of leaving the job and begin singing. She saved up money during her jobs for her own, maybe to travel someday or for her own leisurely purposes, little did she know that this would help sustain her love for singing.
“I used to attend Karaoke nights all by myself, that was my outlet. People started giving me compliments, ‘Oh, wow you’re a really good singer’, which sort of gave me confidence. Then I started hosting my own Karaoke nights.”
As Tanya began her journey, she wanted to surround herself with people who supported her.
“My mother has been a huge support to me, coached me for every competition, be it in school or to take up the role of a full time singer-songwriter. Even Nikhil, my fiancé has been with me every step of the way. We’re getting married this November!”
Tanya tells me her karaoke nights were like a local tinder and there have been many couples who met through her karaoke nights. She met Nikhil, who’s a chef by profession and an artist as well, at one of her band performances where he was reviewing the restaurant.
You can congratulate her @TanyaNambiar
These days following your passion is appreciated and supported, but she doesn’t believe in following her passion blindly without a structure in place. Tanya was recently called to talk to young entrepreneurs.
“I was the only non-business woman there. I try to inspire people to take up their passion but at the same time to test it beforehand. Why do you have to leave your job? Test your passion out. Juggle both things. You have to go through that phase because what’s on the other end is beyond precious.”
She feels one can always think about making money from something they love. She has to invest in recording studios, editing, marketing etc. so apart from singing, she also picks up projects like voice overs, jingles and anchoring to earn her own.
“I am still the same sales manager I was and more, except now I use my skills to sell myself, pitch myself and hold my own.”
I asked her as to who is Tanya Nambiar if not a singer and she instantly responds,
“I am a fighter, an artist. I have numerous ideas everyday. I don’t know what I might start tomorrow, but I want to start my own fashion line, I want to do something for my love of dogs, a cafe something…I want to make videos. But I will never leave my passion.” she said in one go.
As the conversation drew to a close, I asked her about the songs that were on the top of her head this week. The belief that there is one favorite song or artist seems a bit too much when there are so many amazing compositions around.
“My two favourites this week are ‘This is what you came for – Calvin Harris and Rihanna’ and a song of a new band I recently discovered, ‘The sweater weather – The Neighbourhood’.”
Tanya also sang one of her own favorite songs which she sings to herself every day. Here is a video she had uploaded of the song.
There is no standardized path to reach your goals. Tanya Nambiar followed her passion without giving up on the essential things in life. She is planning a nationwide tour with her band soon. So if you loved her story don’t miss out on attending the concert when she visits your city.
Photo credits: Jatin Chawla
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