Singles are the way forward in this industry. An album should be released only when one is famous enough to have people concentrate on their stories for more than five minutes,” says Pranati Khanna, aka Peekay—a young artist spearheading the music scene in Hyderabad—as she talks about her latest single, ‘Much Better’. The song takes inspiration from the infectious spirit of the children who live in the slums behind her apartment . “It was my way of paying homage to the child in me,” she explains.
The release of the song—the second in a year—was made possible through a series of fortuitous circumstances. Peekay’s appeal was crowdfunded by Original Dog, a fan-funding website based in Chennai, which allowed her to work with popular music producer Jonathan Wesley, who boasts over a decade of cross-genre and multifaceted experiences and is renowned for his work in music production, composition, mixing and mastering, as well as string and horn orchestration. And with energy drinks giant Red Bull signing on to produce the upbeat video, Peekay had a winner. In fact, it was recently featured in Spotify’s playlist EQUAL, launched on International Women’s Day to honour female creators.
An established voice in the fight for women’s rights, LGTBQIA+ inclusivity and recognition of mental health problems, Peekay is also an artist. She uses these mediums to advocate a positive outlook to life, highlight peoples’ rights against abuse, and focus on love and acceptance. The numerous talks she has been invited to give, including two at the TEDx platform, have aided her in spreading her message far and wide. She shares her thoughts expressively, in every song she writes or melody she performs, regardless of the genre being pop, pop-rock or RnB.
Though ‘Much Better’ classifies as a pop song, she claims this will be her last in the genre. “In the future, I am going to stick to what I love most—RnB/Soul,” says Peekay, who picked up the guitar at 14 and began her music journey as a songwriter. With three singles to her name so far, it is early days yet for Peekay, but she is ready and hopeful. “It is challenging with singles to get listens and views but that has not hampered either my recognition or my love for putting these tunes out there. It is tremendously rewarding when you meet people who sing your tunes back to you,” she smiles. Painting, illustrating, designing, songwriting and making music leave her with hardly any free time. But when she does manage some, she likes to relax with PlayStation 3.
At the same time she acknowledges the importance of social media in the fame game. “It is what our generation hangs on to for all credibility, information and fad! If you have enough followers, posts and engaging stories on a daily basis, you will make it in this industry. People want to know the artists they are listening to and live vicariously through them. It is not just about the music or the mystery behind the music anymore. So, sadly if you do not have the time or energy to live on social media day in and day out, you might not be taken seriously enough as an artist because your number of followers equal your credibility and popularity,” she says shrugging matter-of-factly.
The pandemic may have applied the brakes on live performance, but Peekay is not disheartened. She has numerous gigs lined up in Hyderabad and plans for a larger tour once the chaos subsides. Her parting words for upcoming independent musicians? “You do you!”