Do you believe that opportunities sometimes come knocking on your door? If not, here’s someone who would turn that opinion around. Lisa Mishra took us by a storm with her first Bollywood song and we couldn’t have had more tarefaan to shower on her. In a candid conversation with Smriti Raizada, Lisa talks about her creative process, inspiration and the era of digital platforms.
Ex: Hey there Lisa, you started your YouTube journey at the age of 13. What inspired you to make your first cover?
LISA: The first video I did was pretty indicative of my age at the time, a cover of See You Again by Miley Cyrus. I think the inspiration was the popularity of Hannah Montana which collided with the launch of YouTube as a platform. After making that first video, there was no going back and here we are!
Ex: You’ve travelled through continents to explore your musical journey. What was one major change you faced with the audiences in India in contrast to that in Chicago?
I think the language barrier, definitely. Audiences are able to relate to me musically but I’m on a continual journey to improve my crowd interaction with more and more Hindi as we go along. I’m fluent, it’s just a matter of getting comfortable with the crowd and making them feel at home.
Ex: How would you describe the vibe of your sound?
I’ve always described my sound as R&B Bollywood because those are my two biggest schools of influence. In equal measure, I was learning from Beyoncé as I was listening repeatedly to the Taal soundtrack. The blend of the two has helped me carve a niche in this industry that I’m so thankful audiences are resonating with.
Ex: You had a sparkling moment with Tareefan that came with immense love and recognition from all around the world. What advice would you give someone who wants to make a mark in the music industry?
I think if you want to make your mark, you absolutely must be authentic. What worked for me isn’t a “formula” or a path that will work for anyone else. I did what came most naturally to me, singing the songs I love from different genres and eras in an effort to weave together my musical worlds.
Ex: How do you start your creative process with a song?
If we’re working on my singles, I actually tend to see a film or video in my head before I get into the musical creation. I approach a song with the visual in mind first, so that it helps me build a character or a role around the words I’m singing. That itself comes out when I sing into the microphone – one day I’m playing a struggling musician that requires a little pain the voice, another day I could be a happy young girl in love. Maybe it’s the Bollywood in me [laughs].
Ex: YouTube was a platform for you to explore your passion. How do you think digital platforms are changing career paths for this generation?
I think digital is king right now. I owe my entire career to YouTube and Instagram. It’s a tool that requires no industry knowledge, backing, funding, etc. Homemade content can hit it big in the same spaces that previously had no room for newcomers.
Ex: What do you think is the best technological innovation for a music artist?
I think home production gear. So many of us have learned vocal production from the comforts of our laptop, using Logic and Ableton to find and perfect our sound. I think tinkering with these tools is giving birth to a generation of vocalists with a robust understanding of the mixing and production process (which was reserved only for those working in professional studios before).
Ex: In a parallel universe, what would Lisa Mishra’s calling be?
Haha! I used to research and write about South Asia and also worked in financial analytics before my breakthrough. Ask anyone around me though, I have a knack for design and interiors so maybe that’s what I would do instead.
Ex: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Behind a microphone, releasing music that people connect to both in India and abroad.
Ex: A quote you live your life by?
Success is equal parts hard work and opportunity.
- What would be the theme song to your life: Dil Chahta Hai by SEL
- Idea of a perfect weekend getaway: Road trips with my friends back home in Chicago
- Most expensive tech buy: Bose speakers
- Your dream collaboration would be with: Beyoncé or Arijit Singh
- Tell us one thing your fans don’t know about you: I’m a tyrant when it comes to my work, kind of a nightmare to be around and demand all the details before entering a project.