Updated: May 11, 2020
We know that Bollywood music has a global fan following, but have you heard of a British pop singer taking Bollywood music lessons since childhood and singing like any Bollywood singer? Yes, this is true, there is one such whose name is Arzutra Garielle. A die hard fan of Shreya Ghoshal, Arzutra has grown up watching Indian songs and learnt music by humming Lata Mangeshkar and Shreya's numbers since childhool. The pop singer has released her debut album, Woh Pal In an exclusive interview with Music Beat, Arzutra talks about her debut album, Woh Pal, her love for Bollywood music, her idol Shreya Ghoshal, and more!
What inspired you to become a singer in the very first place? When did it start?
I used to watch Bollywood movies with my father at the age of six and used to wonder what this singing and dancing was all about. I was so intrigued that I used to come home after school and play films and fast forward to watch the songs. Because of this heavy influence of Bollywood and the artistic creative streak inside me, it was only natural to follow the path of music and that too in Hindi.
When I first started, my friends thought I was mad. ‘Why don’t you just sing in English?’ they used to ask me. I was stubborn and didn’t want to. After University, I started dating an actor, and to impress him, I deliberately signed up for some singing classes. Although the relationship ended within three months, 10 years later I’ve launched an album, 14 singles, 10 music videos, and I am on the way to launch my second album. I would say meeting that actor was a trigger for me to start my musical career. It’s strange though as I never had any idea that I wanted to become a singer. It all happened very organically. I never had to force myself to become a singer, it just happened.
You are a British pop singer and could have made a big name their but why did you choose Indian music?
I chose Indian music purely due to the influence of Bollywood in my childhood years. Whilst I grew up in London my family listened to more Bollywood than any western music. If I ever recall, anything that was played all the time in my house has been Indian music. It's only later in life when I got to university that I started listening to English and Western Pop music. However, I always preferred Indian Music maybe because it was a big part of my upbringing. I think it’s the connection between the music and the drama, which made Indian music much more appealing to me. That’s why I chose to sing my songs in the language of Bollywood. Just because I’m born and raised in the west doesn’t mean I don’t belong in the east. I have dabbled with English here and there for fun. Ultimately I do see myself branching out in the future, but not right now.
Let’s talk about your debut music album ‘Woh Pal’ and your journey of making nine songs for it
I know for a fact, I’m one of the few female Asian singers in the world to be working on albums while everyone else is caught up in the singles era. The journey to work on the album has been tough, but I have learnt a lot. I had conflicting advice when I first started with most people telling me not to work on an album and some telling me that’s the way to go. I had no idea what working on an album entailed. Especially since my Recording Studio is in Dubai, I had been flying back and forth to Dubai to work on my album. If I had three words to describe my journey they would be ‘Passion, pain, and perseverance.’ Woh Pal is about really finding myself as an artist. For fans, it's following me on that journey of self-discovery.
Are all nine songs of nine different genres?
I have around three-four genres in the album. I don’t want to be boxed into one genre artist. I love upbeat songs but at the same time, my real love is the mellow romantic/ambient kind of stuff. I like to shake my booty equally as much as crying my eyeballs out to a sad love song. The songs are very different throughout and this was deliberate as I was very experimental in my very first album.
You idolize Shreya Ghoshal a lot. How were you introduced to her music?
I grew up listening to Lata Mangeshkar and its only during my singing lessons where I was introduced to the song Khayalon Mein by Shreya Ghoshal from the movie Raaz. My teacher introduced the song to me as he said my voice tone was similar to hers. From that day onwards, I came home and sang along Shreya Ghoshal's songs daily for nearly eight years. Her songs became a part of my daily Riaz practice. In fact, I sang along with that very song. It’s a very basic song but has got all the elements you need for a good voice. I used to printout the lyrics to follow the lyrical translations to catch the meaning of the words. I know it sounds like a shortcut method but it’s the only way I found I could keep myself motivated. This probably explains why I can sing in Hindi but cannot speak it.
What can we expect from ‘Woh Pal’? Who do you dedicate this album too?
Fans can expect a variety of songs from Woh Pal. I deliberately kept the lead single at the end and is called Woh Pal too. The album resembles 1001 emotions in and out of love. The reason I named it Woh Pal is because life is all about moments we collect. Eventually, we turn to dust, but the moments remain in our souls. I would dedicate my album to my fans because I feel like they are my extended family now, what’s mine is theirs!
Are you keen to work in the Indian music industry?
I would love to work in Bollywood, though I would not say it's my dream. My dream is to launch my solo artist career, writing and singing my songs. However, I would most definitely dream to be touring India. In fact, my trip in February earlier this year was to plan an India tour indeed.
Are there any international projects you are in talks with?
The two biggest international Projects are a tour in India, Dubai, and Pakistan. However, all of this is now on hold due to the Covid-19 outbreaks. A world tour was my 2020 dream and now like many of us, my 2020 dreams have had to take a backseat.
What’s your biggest dream as a singer?
I never even had a dream to become a singer, to be honest. I wake up every day wondering how I even got to this point without even dreaming to be here. Things have been moving so fast for me, I almost haven’t had time to dream. I’m laughing because it sounds so bizarre doesn’t it? I would say my dream was to launch my album and sing in Hindi, which I’ve done now. Now it’s about really setting the standards high. Now my biggest dream is to wake up every day and just give all of me and my music to my fans without any fear or limitations. I know it doesn’t sound like a big dream. But this for me is worth its weight in gold.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
In five years from now, I see myself doing tours internationally non-stop in the East as well as the west.
How are you spending your time during the ongoing lockdown due to corona?
In London, as you know we are in a strict Lockdown although we are allowed to go out for an exercise once a day. I’m not usually an outdoor person when it comes to exercise however during the Lockdown, I had no choice. I’ve been going jogging in the mornings just to get some fresh air. Otherwise, I’m cooped up indoors virtually making music with my Producer on Skype or planning my next video shoot with my video director. Otherwise, I’m hanging out on social media with the fans. I’m replying to a lot more fan messages now. I enjoy that. The next thing I want to try is to bake a cake.
Anything else you are doing apart from music?
I have tried doing so many things alongside music, which I had to pause to focus on music. One of them was the launch of my beauty brand that was due to be launched this year. Besides, I am also working on the launch of my health website aimed at teaching ordinary people the basics of health and wellbeing. I’m currently stuck on a name for the website, which is keeping me up at night.
What message would you give to people during the ongoing pandemic?
I know a lot of people have frozen in anticipation of some green light before they can unfreeze themselves. It doesn’t work like that. If you have a 110 per cent belief in yourself then nothing can interfere, not even a global pandemic. Please keep living.