Her most recent single may have been inspired by the feeling of ‘Peter Pan syndrome’, but Meghna has always proved to be well beyond her years when it comes to her musical career. After learning the foundations of songwriting and producing skills from her singing teacher, she released her first song on YouTube at the mere age of 12 – and hasn’t looked back since.
“You can hear my baby voice [in that song],” the Melbourne singer laughs during an interview with Draw Your Box. “It was really just a great start.”
Fast forward a decade, and she has been releasing music on streaming services under the professional ‘Meghna’ artist name for the last four years. Some of her most pivotal work was created while in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, where musicians had to adapt to a lifestyle void of in-person performances and studio time. Her latest song, 2045, explores the idea of time moving increasingly faster as you become older, while you’re stuck feeling like you haven’t grown internally to match the time that has progressed.
“The inspiration came from lockdown and that feeling of times moving incredibly fast and we’re not getting any younger. It came from that existential crisis [of knowing] that ageing is happening,” she says.
“When you’re stuck in lockdown and you look at the clock, you suddenly become very cognisant that time is very impermanent.”
With sounds inspired by the works of Rihanna and Japanese pop group Sundannayuzuyully, 2045 offers commentary on the human condition and our place in the world – something Meghna strives to do through all of the music she creates.
“What I really like people to take away from my music is to learn about different aspects of the world,” she says, explaining she intends to “bring attention to issues that sometimes fly under the radar”.
She also hopes to “be a source of relatability” by weaving in the themes of mental health, growing up and in 2045’s case as she describes herself: ‘Peter Pan syndrome”.
“I really like spotlighting certain social issues I feel very deeply about as a form of advocacy… which is also what I’m doing with my law degree.”
Speaking of academic study, it’s something many children of immigrants are forced to focus on, with the pursuit of a creative outlet merely on the side – such as singing, dancing, or another art form. But in Meghna’s case, focusing on a more prominent music career while studying law in the background has been well-received by her Indian parents, who migrated to Sydney from India in 1989.
“In a lot of families, there can be that added pressure,” she says, reflecting on many South Asian families expecting the younger generation to pursue a traditional profession such as medicine, law, accounting or engineering. “I’m very lucky to have had a very supportive family, who even though they found the music industry very foreign, were very willing to research about it, educate themselves about it and try and help wherever possible.”
Her upbringing and cultural heritage has inevitably played a part in the development of her music. While she’s known as an electric, hip hop artist, she also prides herself on releasing music that fuses South Asian elements.
“My family influence has been one of the strongest factors in my music. My dad and my granddad have introduced me to all the musical artists that I grew up on,” she says, citing Bollywood, Tamil music and Indian classical as major influences.
“I love how melodic South Asian music is. One of the most interesting aspects is the rhythms are so unique… there are so many notes that you don’t get in other types of music that you get in Indian music because of the instrumentation – you get a lot of micro tones and things like that.”
Given all of this, it’s no surprise that Meghna has her eyes on taking her music career to India one day. “I think I would love to explore the music scene there. They've got a really good burgeoning hip hop scene,” she beams.
But as she hopes to one day go international with her work, she’s also very proud of her career foundations and the uniqueness of being a brown female artist from Melbourne.
“Just being in Australia has really helped because Melbourne is such an incredible, vibrant, hipster music scene. I don’t think I’d be the same musician if I lived somewhere else. I’ve become very Melbournian in that sense.”
So, what advice does she have for other South Asian Australian women who’d like to make their mark in the music world? Well, in a world where it can sometimes feel like the odds are against you, Meghna’s advice is to connect with industry support networks, leverage social media platforms to share music, and most importantly, dare to shine even when it feels daunting.
“Don’t have that imposter syndrome,” she says. “Go and act like you are in the room and that you belong there… because you do!”