World Music Day: For singer Hanita Bhambri, making music around mental health is like therapy
By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 25, 2023
Hanita Bhambri makes music, random reels and “wholesome-ish doodles about mental health”, describes her Instagram profile. She is a new-age singer, who doesn’t shy away from using music to create awareness around mental health. Yes, the 28-year-old does post about other things in her life, including her cute five-year-old dog Shifu. But talking about a wide range of emotions through her songs is what she mostly loves to do. The New Delhi-based singer-songwriter has connected with thousands of people through her songs like “Kyun Ruthi Ho” and “Dar Nahi”. On World Music Day 2023, she opened up about music and mental health in this with Health Shots exclusive interview.
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Excerpts from an interview with indie singer Hanita Bhambri
Q. What is the importance of World Music Day for you?
Hanita Bhambri: World Music Day is a very exciting day to celebrate music and artistes. I’ll probably be working on a new song. Writing music is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. A lot of releasing stuff and marketing music feels like work, but making music makes me feel at one with myself. It doesn’t really feel like work!
Q. Your songs like “Gir Ke Uth Padenge Hum” and “Oceans” are about getting back up and starting over or dealing with feelings of being unwanted. What makes you come up with songs that deal with strong emotions?
Hanita Bhambri: It’s all different phases of my life. “Oceans” was something that I wrote in 2016. I wrote “Gir Ke…” in 2020 when the lockdown was going on. I felt anxiety, and while dealing with that, I would just remind myself that ‘this is just a bad time or a phase that will pass’. Then I would get back up. I felt that a lot of people could relate to that emotion. All of us were going through similar stories, going by internet memes. That also inspires me to share that part of myself with people. Songwriting is a vulnerable process, and to share your innermost emotions and put them out into the world is not easy. You just hope that it reaches someone who connects with it.
Q. How does making music around such topics impact you mentally?
Hanita Bhambri: For me, it’s like a therapy. If I am bottling up a lot of emotions or if I am worried about something, I just sit down with my piano or guitar. I don’t really think that I have to write about this, but I just start humming a melody. It’s almost like the song writes itself because those emotions and words are something that have been playing on my mind constantly. Then it just becomes an outlet for my emotions to sort of organise themselves. And when I have written the song and I am looking at it, I am like ‘wow’, it’s like cleaning your room. You didn’t even know it was messy. At the end of the day, everyone wants to be understood. A lot of times, we don’t understand our own feelings. And then you look at the work of art you have created and you think, ‘hey, at least I understand what I have been feeling.’
Q. How has music helped you to stay strong during tough situations?
Hanita Bhambri: Apart from making my own music, I also love listening to songs by other artistes. When I was a teenager, I felt like I didn’t belong or I couldn’t really connect with anyone. Listening to certain songs made me feel like I was not alone. I felt that it was completely normal to feel what I was feeling because someone who was miles away in a different country… A person I didn’t even know was writing about the things that I was going through. So, I thought that it must mean that what I was going through wasn’t that strange. In that type of a situation, listening to music still helps me. I believe music helps to heal.
Q. Music by which all artistes helped you in healing?
Hanita Bhambri: I relate to music of Damien Rice. Songs like “Dogs” and “The Animals Were Gone” are some of the songs I enjoyed listening to. There is also Ben Howard’s “Keep your head up”. I have been listening to a lot of Taylor Swift songs. I have become an ultimate fan girl. I like a lot of tracks on her ‘Folklore’ album.
Hear one of Hanita Bhambri’s latest songs!
Q. As an indie artist, what are the pressures you face?
Hanita Bhambri: I think the biggest pressure is the uncertainty of it. A lot of it isn’t in your control. In your mind, you can create the best possible song out there, but you can’t control how people will receive it. There are no appraisals, promotions or set life path for you. The only thing that keeps me going is my love for the art even if you can’t control the financial aspect or the number of followers.
Q. What are the subjects you will be addressing in your upcoming songs?
Hanita Bhambri: I am thinking of working on a Hindi EP. I am still writing some of the songs. There isn’t a topic as such. It sort of evolves and I feel this song will work on this record. My songs are just about me and my life experiences. As much as I talk about mental health, I think that it is more about me using my platform to spread awareness, but I also share about love and friendship. It becomes like a diary entry that I share with people!