N uka, as the state-of-the-art alias, Anushka Manchanda released (20 June) Don’t Be Afraid on her YouTube channel, and trust us, we couldn’t stop ourselves from playing it on a loop. It is refreshing to see something very different from most run of the mill videos. Nuka is the name she gave herself as a child and a name that, one night, through a series of bizarre and beautiful events in the city of Los Angeles in 2016, connected her to her path as an artist.
Music Plus had a chat with the former Viva girl on her visually remarkable music video Don’t Be Afraid under Walkabout Films. This is the first of three singles and videos that will be released this year.
Explain the concept of your new alias Nuka and the single Don’t Be Afraid?
Nuka is an alias of sorts, a platform through which I can create and produce content across mediums with complete control. Photography, art, film, music. I don’t want to limit myself. Nuka is my place to express myself freely.
Coming back to Don’t Be Afraid, the song was originally written from the point of view of a tree. I’m a tree hugge, I will hug a tree and whisper to it to give me some wisdom, to exchange energy with me. Nature recharges us, nurtures us, and we must take care of it too. Everybody has some shit going on, so remember that you are not alone. We are all in this together. We have one life, so don’t be afraid. The video for this song explores the idea of death and what happens after, how energy flows across the universe, and how nature and humans are connected. It will take you through the journey of death, and the fear attached to the unknown. It is a visually stunning depiction of the way energy travels in our universe, never dying, always evolving.
Does your production depend on your varying mood or is it pretty careful preparation?
When I am appointed to do something, I have instructions. With Nuka, it is pure feeling, an authentic representation of how I perceive and interact with my surroundings. When I start programming a track, I let it build by instinct, I let it guide me. I also like to start a whole bunch of different projects on my machine, just putting down ideas without thinking too much and then later identify and refine the ones that have potential. Most times I am already picturing the visual in my head. The idea is to create an audio-visual experience.
You have years of experience as a performer/singer. What technical skills you had to bring together before putting it up and how challenging was it?
I went to New York to a music school to learn how to use music production software. Then I taught myself editing software as well. If you have the interest, it’s not hard to learn anything. I have to say though, editing is a very time-consuming process. It took me almost three months to edit this video. I had to really immerse myself in it, and I was unable to do anything else. It is important though because you can make or break something on the edit table.
How did the collaboration between you and Navzar Eranee happen? As we know there will be three singles and videos, how different they’ll be from the first one?
Navzar Eranee is a very close friend, and I have done a lot of work with him as an editor and as a music director along with my brother Shikhar. I trust Navzar, and I have learned a lot from him. We work in sync, but can also fight tooth and nail when we are working. It is always for the best of the film or the piece of work we are creating. We have done the Jack & Jones music videos with Ranveer Singh, Lay You Down, and a whole bunch of other projects together. We have a whole bunch of ideas for the future, and the endeavour is always to do something different so that we are creatively challenged.
Name one record/track/album that changed your life radically?
Electrypnose’s album Funked Up and Apollo 440’s Ain’t Talkin Bout Dub. I also heard a lot of banging drum and bass artists at this festival outside Berlin called Freqs Of Nature. Different sounds continue to influence my taste.
Asking on how she thinks the audience will grab her sound as a producer, Anushka said, “Honestly, I do not know. I am figuring things as I go along. I was clear that I wanted to do this independently, but that comes with its own challenges as well. My main aim is to get my music and my art out to people. It has been a learning process for me too.”