Opera-trained dark-pop prodigy, Aditi Iyer, created waves with her debut EP Dollhouse in 2021. The EP which chronicled the lifecycle of an abusive relationship, was appreciated for its sensitivity, lyrical quality, artwork, and Aditi’s opera-charged vocals. Following this poignant release, the then-school-going singer-songwriter embraced vibrant electro-pop in Deleted Your Number and went on to become the Youngest Indian Artist to simultaneously hit the No.1 spots on coveted global radio platforms. Now she takes on turning 18 and undoing one-sided teen crushes in the pair of summer-monsoon singles.

In an exclusive interview with Kaashvi Mittal of India Currents, India’s youngest pop prodigy talks about her songs and musical influences.

Fun Questions! 

Boba, tea, or coffee?

AI: Boba!!

Dogs or cats? Or, no animals? 

AI: I’m more of a cat person, unfortunately I’m scared of dogs 🙁

Favorite place in the world? 

AI: My house because it makes me feel safe and comfortable

If not a singer, what would you see yourself as? 

AI: I guess it would have to be an author or a historian. I’ve always loved writing stories and reading about historical events.

When did you start singing and when did you decide to professionally pursue it? 

AI: I started my journey as a musician really, really young. I was 9 months, as my mom tells me, when I started humming songs I heard around the house from the likes of the Beatles. At 3, I was humming nursery rhymes and at 4-5 years old I graduated to Celine Dion and Michael Jackson songs. I’d say I’ve always found love, comfort, and excitement in music so there was never any moment I decided to professionally pursue music. I just always loved music and was always singing. My parents could tell there was nothing else I’d rather do so we decided to put my passion for music out into the world together. At 8, I began to cultivate a social presence and I haven’t looked back since. 

Who are your musical influences/inspirations?

AI: Right now, it’s Taylor Swift for her impeccable songwriting, Queen (Freddy Mercury in particular for his amazing way of singing and all it’s taught me), and Olivia Rodrigo for the way she conveys emotion through her lyrics so well. As a child, it was a hundred percent Celine Dion. I used to listen to her for hours to pick up on her singing technique. 

Do you write your own songs, and if so, what inspires your songwriting process?

AI: I do write my own songs. My songwriting process is usually me thinking about a topic that inspires me like an issue that really bothers me and writing those ideas onto either my phone or a notebook. My lyrics are not necessarily things I’ve experienced myself but kind of things I see happening around me and vicariously experience through my song. I like to think of my songwriting as me assuming different characters with different experiences to tell their story.

What, specifically, inspired your song “18 With You” and what message do you hope listeners get away from the song? 

AI: I wrote ‘18 With You’ last year when I’d just turned 18 (I’m currently still 18). I was just about to leave for the U.S. to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. While I was super excited about that, I’d never lived without my parents before and was really scared to suddenly go from being a child at 17 to an adult at 18. I wrote ‘18 With You’ to make myself feel better about the stresses of suddenly becoming an adult, a reminder not to overthink things and just enjoy the moment with your friends and family. That’s, for me, the biggest takeaway from the song: to live in the moment and not take things too seriously, especially not a milestone like turning 18 which can definitely feel overwhelming. 

Have you faced any challenges/obstacles in your musical journey, and how did you overcome them?

AI: I’ve definitely faced many challenges in my musical journey, but the most defining challenge for me was actually figuring out how to make my dream of becoming an accomplished, famous musician a reality. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure I’d even go to college because I didn’t have enough information about music schools.

Then, a couple years back, I had my heart set on going to the U.S. and attending a music school for Western Music but most schools I’d looked at were conservatories and, while I have Western classical training and love that kind of music, I don’t, at this point, want to pursue that. I found Berklee and I was absolutely sure I wanted to attend it; it was a college for contemporary music that sounded like a dream. But I wasn’t sure I’d get in as I was applying to Berklee and some conservatories as back-ups and had to make several audition videos while studying for exams and writing 4,000-word essays.

But, thankfully, everything worked out really well and I managed to overcome this challenge by being really determined and not giving up even though things seemed impossible and even hopeless at times. Funny story, but I talked to my parents, who’ve been so so supportive this whole time, about taking a gap year to figure things out the night before I realized I’d gotten into Berklee with a 50% scholarship. It was a lesson in overcoming challenges by never giving up. 

How has social media impacted your singing career?

AI: Social media has really impacted my singing career. It’s helped me cultivate an online presence as an artist which is super, super important to get new supporters of your music and show a window into your personality to engage them, through platforms like Instagram.

While not everyone is necessarily encouraging on social media, I’ve met so many wonderful people who’ve supported me and my music for years and it really helps motivate me to keep doing what I do. I also definitely think social media changed my singing career for the best when my family helped me upload my first YouTube video at the age of 8. It was one of the first steps I took to gain a fanbase and I definitely think I wouldn’t have the presence I have without social media. 

How do you stay motivated and passionate about singing, especially when you might face rejection or criticism?

AI: That’s a great question! For all the people who criticize or reject me, there are so many more who encourage and uplift me, like my parents who are always there for me. My mom always knows how to cheer me up when I’m feeling down after a musical rejection or failure which really helps keep me going. It also helps to think about failure and rejection as learning experiences rather than scars on your path. I think without those learning experiences, we’d take success for granted and we wouldn’t learn anything. I also know there is nothing I love more than singing and making music. Every career path has rejection and criticism involved. It’s unavoidable and I’m much more accustomed to taking that rejection in a path I feel proud of and love. And nothing beats that feeling of triumph after a well-earned success.

Are there any specific genres or styles of music you want to explore in the future?

AI: As a young artist, I really want to be as versatile as I can, so I can explore as many genres and styles of music as I possibly can. For now, I’m focusing on exploring the many sub-genres of Pop, but maybe in the future, I’d like to experiment with Jazz. I’m learning a lot about it at Berklee and I think it’s a fascinating genre of music. 

What advice would you give to other teens who are aspiring singers?

AI: I’d say that you should never give up even if things aren’t really going your way right now. I know it sounds a little overdone but I promise it’s true. Being a singer is an unpredictable profession and there are more failures than successes, at first. 

  But if you keep going, developing your skill, and learning from your failures, there’s huge promise and the possibility for success. I think that’s the same for any career so the journey is worth it if you love what you do. I’d also say that, to quote a Miley Cyrus song, ‘it’s the climb!’. It’s genuinely true that, while having and working towards your goals is essential, you shouldn’t be too fixated on the end result or reaching the top of the mountain. It’s really important to enjoy the journey or ‘the climb’ and have a great time without taking things too seriously. I think life is way more fulfilling when you accomplish your goals while taking some time to smell the roses along the way.

Are there any upcoming projects or releases that your fans can look forward to?

AI: Absolutely!! I have another summer single called ‘Never Met You’ coming out this week (August 3rd)! As always, I’m working on new projects to release in the future! 


Kaashvi Mittal is a rising sophomore at Saint Francis High School. Her interests include computer science, AI, and writing!