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Vidya Vox: Mash-up is more organic than people think it is

The mash-up queen, Vidya Vox, talks about her love for the art, her Indian roots, starstruck moment with Hrithik, handling criticism over fame and her desire to be a part of Bollywood

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Music was something that was never part of the plan for Vidya Iyer. Little did the college girl who was studying psychology knew that things were about to change. While she was busy prepping up for her pre-medicinal exams, she bumped into Shankar Tucker, an American musician who rose to fame through his YouTube channel. Half way to college, Vidya did a handful of songs for his channel along with her sister Vandana. “That's when it sort of opened up my eyes like how this could be something. A year after my graduation, I went ahead with the idea of doing music,” recalled YouTube’s mash-up queen Vidya Vox.

Though she knew that it is something that no parents dream of for their kids, a brave Vidya planned on following her love for the art. “Obviously, it is not very secure and it's not something like every parents dream. That is when I moved to India. After I moved to Mumbai for a few years, I restarted my learning and that's when I got here where I am today and honestly speaking it is all crazy,” she added.

The 26-year-old visited India last week for her debut tour. Vidya performed at YouTube fan fest’s on 24 March at Jio Garden, Bandra Kurla Complex and also at Radio Mirchi’s Mirchi Fusion Fields on 17 March at Mahalakshmi Race course. In between the jet lag and her gigs, she talked to us about music, her work and desire to work in Bollywood.

What’s in a name
Born in Chennai and based in US, Vidya turned out to be an internet sensation by mashing up western and Indian tunes and her YouTube channel’s followers and viewers are a witness to it all.

Vidya always wanted a stage name that could not only define her but also her love for music. When Shankar had asked Vidya to record for his channel, he always labeled her name as Vidya Vox on the track and that’s how the name came into being. But what does it mean? “Vox means voice in Latin. The reason I picked that was because I wanted something different relating to music or just like my name which is Vidya Iyer,” she informed.

Music brought her ‘closer’
The Chainsmokers’ ‘Closer’ and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’s ‘Kabira’ mash-up helped Vidya Vox to turn into a household name. Without any hopes, she had released the song on the US Election Day and got on to a flight to India. Reminiscing that moment, Vidya said, “When I landed, something insane happened. My phone was totally like blowing up! I honestly thought no one is going to listen to that track. I had just put it up anyway because I really loved that song.”

From mixing Ellie Goulding's ‘Love Me Like You Do’ with Bollywood song ‘Hosanna’ to Justin Bieber's ‘Let Me Love You’ with Arijit Singh's Ashiqui 2 song ‘Tum Hi Ho,’ the internet star has done it all. The Youtuber is taking on the world one mash-up at a time. Mashing up two songs is no joke. Vidya believes that the two important factors while mashing up two songs is that they both have to be on the same scale and on the same tempo. Elaborating the process of mashing up two songs, she said, “One has to be able to give and take a little bit. The songs come from my song selection. It's usually the songs that I have loved or the songs that I have been requested or the songs that I have just heard on my phone. I go through the list and I think okay so what's next.”

Mashing up two different songs doesn’t happen overnight for her. For Vidya, usually, it comes up at random times like when she is in a shower or when she is in the car driving. “It's like more organic. It looks plain but it's actually not. It's more organic than people probably think it is. Once the songs sync, we start with the recording and then the video,” she added.

Has there been any mash-up that has gone wrong? “Yeah, but honestly none of them are mine (laughs). Honestly speaking a lot of mash-ups don’t work. The once that work are all mine and now after doing them I can really tell by humming the song whether it will work or not. Maybe it's the structure of my work. If it's a maybe then Shankar lays down the rough track and then we record some vocals and then we feel it. If are not feeling it, we drop it. Usually if it is clicks, it clicks immediately. It's not going to click on day one or day four after working on it so now we know that and we are getting better at it and at the same time it's so much of mix and match,” she said.

Vidya knows Tamil and a little of Hindi. She can understand Malayalam but can’t speak. Being a YouTube sensation is no joke. People not only praise you but also criticize for your work. On asking as to how does she handle criticism to which an honest Vidya said, “I try to not read it. I think music is subjective. What I like and what you like may be different. It is important as a musician for me to be insulated somehow and I really don’t want to be affected by other people's opinion of what I am doing. If I can’t create what I want then there is no way anybody can connect to it. If 10 per cent of the people don’t like my original or my mash-up, that's fine but there are like another 90 per cent of the people who like it. It's a gamble. You may like one song and you may not like the next so I can’t really please everybody. I just avoid reading the comments.”

Down the memory lane
Vidya’s fondest memory is that she grew up in India. She spent the first nine months in Mumbai. “I remember for going to see Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai with my sister in the theatre when it was released and it is this one memory that I always look back to. It's so amazing. I have been a fan of Hrithik ever since,” she said.

The singer has been getting attention from Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan for her work. And while's she's thankful for the appreciation, she's looking forward to other collaborations in the future. In a recent tweet, the Greek God of Bollywood Hrithik Roshan has praised the mash-up queen. On quizzed if Bollywood is calling anytime soon to which she said, “Not this instance but yeah why not? No one has called me yet but if anyone wants to give me a call, it'll be awesome! Hopefully sometime in the future for sure.”

Vidya recently released her original ‘Kuttu Fire.’ Speaking about it an elated Vidya said, “’Kuttu Fire’ is the first track from the EP. A lot of my tracks have that kind of an influence. I am still working on it so I have about like a few tracks done. I have few more to write. I am in love with all the songs and it's becoming really difficult to go about it so that's what is taking it longer but I need to make sure that it's something that I am really proud of.”

Meanwhile, checkout Vidya’s top ten numbers

The Chainsmokers - Closer | Kabira (Vidya Vox Mashup Cover) (ft. Casey Breves)
Charlie Puth - We Don't Talk Anymore | Pani Da Rang (Vidya Vox Mashup Cover) (ft. Saili Oak)
DJ Snake (ft. Justin Bieber) - Let Me Love You | Tum Hi Ho (Vidya Vox Mashup Cover)
Major Lazer - Lean On | Jind Mahi (Vidya Mashup Cover ft Ricky Jatt, Raashi Kulkarni, Raginder Momi)
Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do | Hosanna (Vidya Vox Mashup Cover)

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