Opera-trained pop prodigy Aditi Iyer’s latest single, Deleted Your Number, makes the 17-year-old the youngest solo Indian artist to have simultaneously hit the no.1 spots on two coveted global radio charts, World Top 200 (Indie) and Europe Top 200 (Indie), along with a grand debut on the mighty DRT Mainstream TOP 200 alongside her favorite pop icons like Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, etc.
In this exclusive interview, Iyer talks to India Currents about her biggest musical influences, and attaining global success at such a young age.
IC: You were born in London, moved to Singapore as a child, then Jakarta and India. What would you consider your biggest musical influences?
AI: To be honest, given that I was a very young child when I lived in these countries, I didn’t pick up any specific musical influences there. But I did listen to a lot of English music my parents played around the house, particularly The Beatles, Celine Dion, and Michael Jackson.
And early on, listening to Celine Dion in particular, helped me learn how to sing. Later, I gained a passion for songwriting, and Taylor Swift became, and has stayed a major influence in the way I write. Truthfully, I haven’t had any major Indian influences to my music, although this is something I’m certainly open to in the future.
IC: Tell us about your musical journey.
AI: I think I always knew I wanted to do music. As early as nine months I was humming songs I heard around the house. By three, I was singing nursery rhymes, and by four I graduated to Celine Dion.
I released my first YouTube video at eight with the help of my parents and my uncle. I think that truly kickstarted my journey in the face of the public. The same year, I began to learn western classical music and opera from a reputed teacher in Delhi, Ms Situ Singh Buehler. With her help, I learned really important vocal and breathing techniques that have revolutionized the way I sing, even pop.
My journey as a songwriter began at 10 years old, when I wrote my first song Who You Are. I was getting bullied at the time and it was a way for me to stand up to my bullies.
IC: Tell our readers about your latest single Deleted Your Number, and the idea/inspiration behind it.
AI: Deleted Your Number is about removing toxic people from your life. Essentially, it is representative of “deleting” whatever relationship you had with them. No direct event inspired the song, but I generally wanted to write something new by exploring the minute details rather than just major ones because seemingly mundane things can have major consequences—for example, breaking up with a person is a major event but deleting their number, while relatively mundane, is not really as inconsequential as it does mean severing your ties to the person.
IC: Having recently completed your Class 12 boards, you’ll be attending the Berklee College of Music. Tell us more.
AI: I’m really excited about going to Berklee and I hope to study Vocal Performance there so I can refine my craft. But there are also courses I would like to take to educate myself more musically, like music production, business, and theory.
Berklee will be the first time I study only music in my life, so it’s a new experience I welcome. My ultimate goal (though ambitious) is to become a famous Billboard chart-topping artist and one of India’s first artists to truly crossover into the Western music scene.
IC: Tell us about your poignant EP Dollhouse (2021).
AI: Dollhouse was my first formally released EP. It has four songs chronicling the start and end of an abusive relationship, with the message that it’s not worth staying in. I’ve never been in one but the idea of it strikes a raw nerve because it’s all about using love to manipulate someone, which is such a horrible thing to do.
And I realize that a lot of people still stay in such a relationship, maybe because they haven’t yet understood that it’s abusive. For the sake of not preaching, I wanted to put myself in a similar situation through my music to show, rather than tell, my message. Dollhouse got lots of praise and was featured on reputed media like The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, Rolling Stone India, Rock Street Journal, and others.
IC: What are you working on next?
AI: I’m in the process of working on some new music, which I hope to release this year.