Lisa Mishra is a multilingual singer who pours emotion into her music. Growing up in Chicago, she was exposed to a lot of R&B and Hip Hop and soon she started posting YouTube Videos and small video segments of her singing online on her Instagram handle.
She became a Bollywood sensation overnight when Rhea and Sonam Kapoor heard Lisa’s creative mash up of Tareefan from their film Veere di wedding with Let Me Love You by DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber on her Instagram page and they flew her down to India for a reprise version.
Since then, Lisa has been unstoppable and has collaborated on a number of Bollywood chart toppers such as ‘The Wakhra Song’, ‘Naadaniyaan’ from The Sky is Pink and ‘Chandigarh Mein’ from Good Newwz.
She has even worked on Grammy-winning projects like the Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper and the Emmy-nominated series Brown Girls.
On April 28, Lisa Mishra launched her first ever-solo non-film track titled ‘Nai Chaida.’ The song is soulfully sung, with powerful and energetic vocals that have been written by lyricist Kunaal Verma.
‘Nai Chaida’ portrays the desire, helplessness and pain that people endure during a long-distance relationship. It conveys that there is no catalyst bigger than distance itself, which pushes two hearts apart, says Lisa.
The video that accompanies the song portrays Lisa’s real-life transition from Chicago to Mumbai where she had to experience the tough trials and tribulations of an artist pursuing her dreams. It co-stars Rohan Mehra and has been directed by Karan Boolani.
Nai Chaida was recorded in Los Angeles with one of the best international vocal producers, TEK, who works with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and Justin Bieber.
In an exclusive interview with YS Weekender singer and vocalist Lisa talks about her new single Nai Chaida, the immense work that went behind the scenes, and some of her own early musical influences.
YSW: Tell us about your new single ‘Nai Chaida’. What was the motivation behind the song?
LM: Nai Chaida is my first ever solo song and is a very special and familiar story of two people who are in love but for some reason it’s not working out and they can’t see each other. It’s not a story of separation nor a story of anger. It’s a story of longing to be with the person you love and for some reason, it isn’t happening.
The concept was about long-distance relationships and really missing somebody you can’t see right now.
YSW: Were you always passionate about music since a young age? Did you know that singing was your calling?
LM: Yes, I have been singing since I was 4 years old. I never took any formal training but it’s something I have done my whole life. Even without any formal training I have been performing since a very young age, so I just knew I wanted to sing, even if I wasn’t being taught.
So, for me, it was the true love and passion for music since a young age. I guess I didn’t know I wanted to be a professional singer but just yesterday my dad found my book which I wrote at the age of 8, titled ‘Making of a Singer’, so maybe somewhere in my mind I knew I wanted to be one.
YSW: Tell us a little bit about your early education background and musical journey.
LM: I was raised in Chicago primarily and my musical training happened in school because in the US you are required to take music as a course during all of your education.
So, I was singing in the choir with everybody else and that helped me develop my skills for ensemble singing.
In the 4th or 5th grade they give you a chance to showcase your talent and that’s when I developed the passion for performing and singing. I could foundationally understand what it takes to be good at music without necessarily having any training.
YSW: What was the first instrument you picked up and an early musical memory you look back on fondly?
LM: I started with the piano and then I quit because I found it boring. I switched to the guitar and was much better at it as it suited my voice better too.
My earliest memory is singing my first song to my aunt over the telephone and it was a track called ‘Jaadu Hai Tera Hi Jaadu’ from Ghulam. I guess I was 4 when I did that.
YSW: What was the feeling like when Rhea Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor called you to collaborate on the Tareefan reprise for the film Veere Di Wedding?
LM: I think every single day of my life still feels like a dream because of that moment. The actual reaction to that was I couldn’t believe it was happening and I think I still don’t know if all this is real!
YSW: Who were some of your early musical inspirations growing up? Who are they now?
LM: In the US, my biggest inspirations were R&B singers and Beyoncé and I think I mostly learnt most of the music by listening to Beyoncé and in India my entire childhood track was Rehman.
Taal was the most important album at that time when I was growing up and listening to those songs and learning from that level of composition was very important for me.
And now, in the US it’s Billie Eilish. I think everyone should follow, learn, and listen to her because she is a very talented songwriter and impressive singer.
The other people who have inspired me throughout my life are Vishal and Shekhar. I love their music and I listen to a lot of their songs when I am trying to write more upbeat and happy songs.
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YSW: Where can the song currently be downloaded?
LM: Nai Chaida is available on all music streaming platforms and you can watch the video on VYRL original YouTube channel.
YSW: Tell us a little bit about you’re composing and brainstorming process.
LM: I think composing is something you do as an internal process; it’s an expression of how you feel. A lot of things I write typically end up being sad and very emotional, composition wise or lyrically, and it’s like pouring emotions out of life events.
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YSW: Who were some of the people you worked with to bring the track to life?
LM: Kunaal Verma, who wrote the lyrics of the song and beautifully captured that emotion of loss and longing.
You need the right lyricist to capture a song as emotional as this one. Kunaal is super talented and the first draft of his lyrics were what we approved as he nailed it from the very first day. We haven’t made any changes to it and now it’s been a year and they all love it. And TEK of course did the vocal production and tracking in LA.
YSW: What was it like to collaborate with TEK, who is an international sensation when it comes to producing music?
LM: It was like a dream come true because he works with Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande and if that is the calibre of musicians who enter his studio, then you have to deliver your best.
It was an opportunity to rise to that challenge, be aware of my voice and give it the absolute best performance that I could. We recorded in LA but I wasn’t happy with it and then we recorded it again in Mumbai. Even he agreed that the second take, which we hear in the song, is the one which is more emotional and more personal. You can always deliver perfectly but you also need to deliver the emotion. He was a really great guide during the whole process.
YSW: When working on the music video, what were key elements that you chose to focus on and did it turn out the way you imagined?
LM: The music video was almost like a family production because of so much heavy involvement from Rhea Kapoor and Karan Boolani, as director.
Since the story is based on transition of my past and new life, Karan said that the hardest thing was to act like myself. All the elements of the music video came out beautifully because I had such a great director. He pulled out the best of my acting ability in every shot and in every scene.
I couldn’t have asked for a better team in terms of production and the video. They have done such an incredible job that I can’t wait for people to see it.
YSW: Do you plan to come out with more singles or even a full-fledged album in the future?
LM: I am writing right now in English and we will see if I come up with something that can be lyrically switched to Hindi, then I would love to put out in an album if I can do 7 or 8 really solid tracks.
I think we need to start listening to albums again and even though isolated songs are good, they create pressure on every song to be a hit whereas the album tells the whole story. So, I would be happy to release an album in future where I can pour out all my emotions via a story.
YSW: What is your advice to other aspiring singers out there?
LM: My advice to singers would be to sound and be different. I think this is true especially for people who come from untrained backgrounds like me.
Sometimes what we do is we mimic other people and since we don’t have anyone else teaching us, we learn by listening to them. The problem with that is you will never differentiate yourself from what you are listening.
You must stand out and you must feel different from what’s out there already.
My biggest piece of advice would be to be authentic to your sound and your music because there is already somebody doing the other stuff, so you might as well come out with something that is new and fresh.
YSW: What do you enjoy doing most on the weekend?
LM: I don’t think the concept of weekend exists anymore because we hardly remember what day of the week it is. But I guess the best use of lockdown for me probably is to write. I think I haven’t had the mental space and time to start writing again but it’s been coming very effortlessly now, as of late, I have been very energetic about recording and writing again. That has become my hobby again after a long time.
I think I had lost focus on that aspect for a while because of how much we were touring, working and recording but now it just nice to focus on music.
(Edited by Asha Chowdary)
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