Zoya Mohan is the perfect example of innovation, expression and presentation. The confidence with which she tapped into her Indian roots while drawing from the indie-folk music around her has been fascinating to watch. Having graduated from Berklee with a degree in Music Business in 2014, Zoya lets me sneak a peek into her dreams for the future of music in India.
Zoya, what have you been upto after graduation?
I am pursuing my career as a touring folk singer-songwriter. I have relocated to Mumbai from LA, after following some opportunities that were presented to me after my US tour last year. I came to India just for one month, last September, and ended up staying for six months touring the country, playing various venues and all the major indie festivals.
I am working on my fourth album now, following my last electronic remix compilation, Zoya: Plugged In, where all the proceeds went to install electricity in various schools in rural India. The next album releasing in September, Natural Disaster, is going to be released here in India following a major country wide tour before the festival season begins in October. I am currently in Mumbai collaborating with incredible artists for this next album like Jubin Nautiyal, Randolph Correia, Vasuda Sharma and more.
What inspired you to move to India?
Right now, India is brewing with this underground independent scene where rock bands, metal bands, pop bands, and even singer-songwriters are emerging as an attempt to express themselves away from the mainstream Bollywood platform. I was incredibly lucky to be invited into the scene at a time of change and growth for music in India. Music business is my passion as well, and to come to a market (a huge huge market) where the singer-songwriter has not been exploited yet is immensely empowering and inspiring.
I will be living in India for the next year, solidifying my roots here with my music in an attempt to expand and raise awareness to the folk singer-songwriter genre here. After, this next year, we plan to begin to make our way into the UK then back to the US. Ultimately, I hope to be living half and half between London and Mumbai while touring as much as possible.
You lead a very busy life! What else has been brewing apart from all the incredible music?
Beyond my original work, I am setting up a consulting company for the independent musician, as everything in my career I have accomplished so far has been done on my own thanks to my education and the tools that the Music Business Department at Berklee gave me. Around this I will continue to hold masterclasses around India to provide fellow indie musicians with insight on branding, marketing, booking, publishing, recording company operations, and more. As the independent music scene is only 5 years old, the business of the indie scene is still in it’s early stages. There are very few indie companies, radio stations, TV channels, media outlets, venues, indie labels etc.. compared to the US, Canada, the UK etc. All in all, being here and listening to so many indie bands share the stage with me at festivals… it makes me wonder, could an Indian origin independent band make it worldwide one day?
What advice do you have for musicians in India?
The power has gone from the record labels to the artist. I think you’re selling yourself short if you are making amazing music in your basement and not making that extra step…Not only is it a opportunity, but it is a blessing to have control over every aspect of your career. To be you. Whatever that may be.