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Rising Stars: Meet Varsha Vinn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Varsha Vinn.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My journey started in Madras, India. I was born there and at the age of two, I had started performing on stage – singing, drama, T.V fashion shows and painting. I was raised in Bangalore in a lower middle-class family and I continued to perform on stage while studying. I lost my father to a heart attack when I was nine and my mom, who was a homemaker with 0 job experience had to figure out how to start from scratch and raise me on her own. She started working a 9-6 job for $100/month. Opportunities didn’t come easily to us and friends and a few family members helped us pay rent and school fees. Those were the hardest years of my life, growing into my teens as an insecure kid who went to a rather excellent English school because my mom didn’t want me to compromise on my education. I was into a lot of creative activities in school and music was a huge part of it. But things started evolving for me when I started writing songs in the back of my physics textbook in the 10th grade one day. I felt very lonely and couldn’t connect with anyone else who had lost a parent. It was isolating even though there were friends and people around me and I found myself expressing that through lyrics and melodies. I put pen to paper everyday and recorded my melodies in tape recorders.

As I was doing this, the universe presented me with an opportunity to study high school in the U.S on merit through a Youth Exchange Program. I went through a couple of rigorous rounds of tests and home interviews and finally got selected amongst thousands of students from the world. I couldn’t wait to leave and find myself. I lived with an American family in Colorado Springs and went to high school, immediately exposed to a whole new world full of opportunities and the dream of being anything I wanted to be. My host father was a country music guitarist at the Airforce band and watching him perform opened my eyes to exactly what I wanted to be. I knew then. I started learning a few chords on the guitar from him and I was unstoppable ever since. I wrote and practiced on the guitar everyday. I would play my songs to my friends at school and everyone resonated with my lyrics and encouraged me to pursue songwriting as a career. I never in a million years would’ve thought that was possible. I told my mom over Skype that I wanted to be a full-time recording artist and songwriter. She was so supportive and told me that when I’d get back to India, she would do everything in her power to help me achieve that dream. When I came back to India, I applied to Berklee College of Music, which had been my dream for a while. I auditioned and interviewed, eventually being accepted in 2014. I was studying on sponsorship, which I worked really hard to get in India, by performing for and setting up meetings with over 400 companies, a very rigorous and exhausting process because I didn’t have the funds to afford Berklee.

When I did get to Berklee, I did writing sessions with fellow students almost everyday, worked really hard in college and kept a good GPA, would skip parties to be in the studio or at home creating and working on my songwriting skills and worked part-time on campus to help my mom out with the living expenditures. Those were some really tough years but made my foundation of music, singing and songwriting really strong. Halfway through college, my sponsorship fell through, so I had to go back home to India. I was performing at bars and clubs, writing songs and recording in the studio trying to figure out what’s next. That’s when Dubai happened. A very well-known producer Ali Mustafa found my music online and reached out to me about collaborating on a project together. We worked together remotely for half a year on songs and I had then started to write songs for other artists as well, broadening my horizons. I then decided to fly out to Dubai to check out the scene and the place and instantly fell in love with it. I was advised to submit my portfolio to agencies and venues in Dubai, and the next thing I knew, I moved to Dubai and started performing, working on more music and honing my craft and sound, working with different producers globally, writing toplines and songwriting becoming my side profession along with being on stage, signed with Universal Music MENA for a couple of songs, releases a few songs with Sony The Orchard (U.S), released EDM collabs with the famous EDM label Magic Records and my career started accelerating.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think that there’s always struggles along the way, no matter what path we choose for ourselves. But the path I chose is a really fickle one and brings about challenges on a daily basis that I need to tackle whilst staying in a creative mindset and grounding myself. I’ve faced a lot of financial struggles along the way, since I’m totally independent and alone in this, it’s been a lot of hard work playing shows, saving up and funding my projects and marketing. I had to learn a lot of things for myself because I didn’t have the luxury of outsourcing things to people. I’ve struggled with a lot of racism and continue to, even from people in my own country. I always feel like a very self-aware and simple person stuck in a superficial industry that could give a damn about me unless I’m play by the rules – which has never been my favorite thing to do 😉

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m really proud of my journey as an artist and as a human and this took a lot of years for me to accept and appreciate myself for. I’m extremely hard on myself and I always feel like I’m failing even when I’m rising above all the challenges and making moves. But lately, I’ve learned to be really confident in my craft of writing songs, singing and performing and I’ve learned to say no to things that don’t feed my purpose or things that don’t align with my values, I think that’s what sets me apart from others. I make my own rules.

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Image/Photography credits: Munem Qureshi

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