Cutting Chai with Meghna

MEGHNA is a Melbourne-based musician who fuses alternative hip hop, EDM and pop elements to create music about social issues around the world.

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MEGHNA is a Melbourne-based musician who fuses alternative hip hop, EDM and pop elements to create music about social issues around the world. She’s performed at the Australian Grand Prix’s Live Fast Festival, The FIFA Women’s World Cup Fan Festival and collaborated with luxury French-Japanese fashion brand Maison Kitsuné for their Kitsuné Musique branch. Meghna is currently appearing on stages across Melbourne as part of the ALWAYS LIVE GarageBand initiative.

Lakshmi Ganapathy: How do you go about blending heavy social issues with the energy of hip hop?

Meghna: It can sometimes be a bit draining looking and reading about social issues, but that makes it all the more important for me to incorporate it into my music. [Process-wise], it initially starts off as writing lyrics to vent the frustration that I can’t physically go stop the conflict. I think writing music and art is a great way of contributing to certain discourses around the world; art makes things better, whether that is spotlighting [perspectives], or making people feel better.

Lakshmi Ganapathy: You’ve also done a fair bit of stand-up. Is there any crossover between the onstage experience of stand-up and that of music?

Meghna: Definitely. I think comedy gave me the confidence to make a living out of performing. Comedy is the most nerve-wracking way to perform because you have to evoke a specific response from the audience – you can’t just do your thing and leave, people have to laugh. It’s all dependent on the reaction of someone else. I always found it scary, but I really enjoyed it and it definitely made singing in public a lot easier. But just being in the thick of it and understanding performing techniques, body language on stage and things like that helped in a lot of ways too. [Nowadays] I like making jokes even when I’m doing a concert.

Lakshmi Ganapathy: Diwali, the Festival of Lights is around the corner. What does Diwali mean to you as a South Asian who’s grown up in Naarm?

Meghna: I’m really excited. My family’s always instilled it in me and my sibling as something to look forward to. I owe it to them for keeping the tradition alive. My dad always tells me these amazing stories of Diwali from his childhood in India and how they used to light lamps with his parents who died when I was a baby. [Diwali] reminds me of a connection to my dad’s side that I never really got to experience as an adult. It’s a very special, magical time for me because it feels like I’m home, even though I’m born and raised in Australia.

Lakshmi Ganapathy: What’s something that you’re currently listening to/reading/playing/watching?

Meghna: Friends is my favourite show, and I’m absolutely gutted at the death of Matthew Perry. I grew up watching Friends and it’s a bit crazy how much I watch it – every night [I’ve watched] maybe two or three episodes before I go to bed, and I’ve been cycling season one to ten for the last couple of years. It’s a comfort show! I’ve also been listening to a lot of ‘80s SynthWave remixes randomly; there’s a really good one of Somebody That I Used to Know [by Gotye].

Lakshmi Ganapathy: What’s a word that you like in a South Asian language, and what does it mean? 

Meghna:  ‘Rajathi’ is what my mum, grandma and granddad always call me. It means Queen or Princess in Tamil. It’s an endearing term, and whenever I hear it, I feel so warm and fuzzy!

Lakshmi Ganapathy: And finally: Soan Papdi or Papdi Chaat?

Meghna: I like any type of chaat, so if you put two plates in front of me, Papdi Chaat.


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READ ALSO: Cutting Chai with Shankar Kasynathan

Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy is an emerging journalist and theatre-maker based in Melbourne.

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