"The validity of a music career in India is still not there"
Palak Rannkka, a multi-talented musician hailing from India, has always been a mixed-culture kid.
Raised amidst the rich heritage of Indian music and influenced by pop legends like Madonna, Palak’s artistic journey is a testament to the power of cultural fusion.
As a singer and live performer, Palak’s musical journey catapulted to viral fame when her rendition of the iconic song ‘Tujhse Naraz Nahin Zindagi’ from Masoom took the internet by storm.
The cover garnered over 77 million views.
With a thriving YouTube channel boasting over 327,000 subscribers, her soulful performances have become a trending sensation across platforms.
Beyond her digital success, Palak’s musical talents have extended to the realm of Bollywood.
She has lent her melodious voice to various web films for Amazon Prime and created captivating jingles for well-known brands.
As she continues to make her mark in the Bollywood space, she remains driven by the thrill of performing on prestigious stages across the country.
However, Palak’s passion for music goes beyond performing covers.
She is a gifted songwriter and composer, pouring her heart and soul into creating original music that speaks to the human experience.
Her creative process is deeply personal, often drawing from her own life experiences and emotions, making her music all the more relatable and heartfelt.
In this exclusive interview, she delves into India’s view of the music industry, her musical influences, and her vision to promote diversity and inclusivity.
From Academic Pursuit to Music Passion
As a kid growing up in India, Palak’s musical inclinations were heavily influenced by her family:
“I’m from India, and I grew up in India, and a lot of my music comes from my family because my grandmother was very into music, and I remember her singing me to sleep.”
This early connection to music sparked a realisation that music was an integral part of her life.
But, despite her passion for music, Palak pursued an academic path initially.
In India, a career in music was not a conventional choice, which made it challenging for her to consider it as a long-term career option.
However, her love for music persisted, and Palak eventually made the courageous decision to pursue her dreams:
“I was very academic. I never thought of it as a career.
“And in India, when you’re younger, music is not really a very obvious choice. It’s not really part of the culture.
“So I went on to do a commerce degree and pursue chartered accountancy.
“I had this whole thing like, oh my God, is this really something that I want to spend my whole life doing? I was like, no, I don’t.
“And, I told my parents who were very supportive, which is my biggest blessing. And I just started out performing locally.”
Like many South Asians who try to pursue music, they’re conflicted between their cultural and family expectations.
But, Palak represents this shifting attitude toward more creative careers that Desi communities are experiencing.
As she started doing local gigs and networking with grassroots artists, the singer started to mould her own sound.
Taking influence from multiple genres of music and some surprising artists, she explains:
“My sound and the kind of music I listened to changed over the years.”
“When I was younger it was a lot of Ronan Keating, Cliff Richards…Madonna. I loved all of that music.
“But I really found my feet when I was studying, ’cause I studied pop country and jazz music.
“So that influence of jazz and RnB is something that I always have in my style.
“Even when I’m singing, I guess my rifs always have this very classic Motown RnB [vibe].”
Palak Rannkka’s eclectic musical palette is inspired by some of the greats.
But, she admits that her taste has been impacted by the likes of UK Rap star Stormzy and American singer, India Arie.
These influences continue to shine through her soulful pop melodies and classic Motown-inspired RnB undertones.
Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Vulnerability
Whilst Palak Rannkka had the vital support of her family when breaking through the music industry in India, it was still no easy feat.
She reflects on the initial struggles, revealing:
“It was harder because this was a very new world for me – I grew up around very working professionals.
“I was not practicing for six hours in the house, I was not doing that as a young person.
“I was very into sports and so it wasn’t a very traditional choice for me in India.
“The whole idea of not having a very purely academic career is a little like ‘oh my God, what are you gonna do?’.
“I think the validity of a music career in India is still not there.
“It’s kind of getting there, but it’s still harder.”
Diving deeper into her origins and the sacrifices she had to make to pursue music with 100% effort, Palak mentions:
“I’m from Pune, which is three hours from Mumbai, which is where the whole music industry is.
“I literally started from my local churches and used to go and find musicians, go talk to people and get local gigs.
“[Then I’d] like going to Mumbai for sessions.
“It’s not a work placement sort of industry where you do something and you get somewhere.
“It’s putting yourself out there and no one tells you how to do it.”
Whilst the music community embraced Palak, she admits that it wasn’t easy to navigate by herself. Learning the tricks and trades of the business was difficult.
Although, with the help of her vocal coach, the starlet reveals she was completely transformed:
“A lot of what she taught me is something I apply even when I’m performing.
“You deal with a lot of things as a performer but the show has to go on.
“There’s a million things happening on stage.
“And I guess that the training really helped me as a performer and even as an artist.”
It was this growth that infiltrated Palak’s songwriting, which became a deeply personal process. When asked about her approach to her tracks and own lyrics, she confessed:
“I feel like a lot of music that every artist writes is very autobiographical. There’s always some element of it.
“Sometimes it takes a while for me to find the right lyric.”
“For ‘Tooti Hui’, I recorded the track quite a while ago but didn’t release it for quite some time because I didn’t have the courage to.
“I felt like this is so vulnerable. This is so hard to put out.
“As an artist, I’ve decided to be vulnerable. But sometimes it gets difficult to just be like, okay, I’m just gonna put myself out there completely.’
Her vulnerability definitely shines through her emotive and introspective tracks, where she finds solace in articulating her thoughts and feelings through her music.
Despite the challenges, she recognises the importance of trusting her instincts and knowing when to detach from her art, and being completely transparent with her fans and listeners.
Even though Palak wants to put her own stamp on the music industry, she also wants to emphasise the talent and ability of female artists.
Palak is well aware of the underrepresentation of women in the music industry, especially those from South Asian backgrounds.
She aims to be a trailblazer, promoting inclusivity and empowering other artists to embrace their unique identities, saying:
“I think women in the music industry is also a huge conversation that we keep having.
“We talk about diversity and how we’re making it more diverse for women, but we’re just increasing it by very minimal percentages.
“When you talk about inclusion and diversity, I feel like it isn’t enough.”
“There needs to be more categories and definitely needs to be more effort.
“I guess as women, we need to own ourselves. And I believe that.”
With her artistry, Palak aspires to make the world a little less lonely and more inclusive through the universal language of music.
Her dedication to her craft and her unwavering pursuit of diverse musical influences exemplify her commitment to breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes in the music industry.
Palak remains focused on her passion for music and embracing new genres in the future.
Speaking on what she may venture into, the musician admits she will strive to collaborate with other artists and work on some major releases:
“I literally just did this very cool track with this guy called Josh Smith.
“It’s very different for me, but I’m super excited about it.
“I also wrote a track with two other songwriters called ‘Belong’, which talks about identity and finding a space to belong somewhere.”
Additionally, Palak Rannkka went on to give us the pinnacle achievement in her journey which she hopes she can reach:
“There are both aspects to me. One is the business side [of music] and also the art.
“The art to collaborate with bigger artists and to actually even win the Grammy for India.”
Palak Rannkka’s musical journey is a celebration of cultural diversity and a testament to the power of perseverance and passion.
Embracing her heritage and diverse musical influences, she has crafted a sound that is uniquely her own.
Palak’s determination to challenge stereotypes, empower fellow artists, and make her mark on the global stage is an inspiration for aspiring musicians.
In her live performances, Palak captivates audiences with her powerful voice and emotive stage presence.
Whether she’s singing soulful ballads or upbeat anthems, her voice resonates deeply with her listeners, creating an emotional connection that transcends boundaries.
As she continues her musical journey, Palak remains committed to making a positive impact through her art and music.
Her genuine desire to touch people’s lives and foster a sense of belonging and togetherness sets her apart as an artist with a meaningful purpose.
Listen to more of the superstar’s music here.
Watch the full interview with Palak Rannkka