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#KetchupTalks: Natania Lalwani discusses the cross-cultural appeal of her song “Gulzar”

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Piyush Singh
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Singer Natania Lalwani has a conversation with us discussing the inspiration, process, and vision behind creating her latest colorful fusion song 'Gulzar’, that's making waves on the internet.

It's exhilarating to watch artists experiment with languages and infuse their culture into their art and anyone who loves music knows that there's beauty in witnessing it. Speaking of bringing cultures together, LA-based singer-songwriter Natania Lalwani stands out with her latest pop ballad, "Gulzar" which beautifully blends English, Hindi, and Punjabi lyrics, creating a unique fusion of contemporary pop elements and traditional Indian music.

The track, "Gulzar" pays homage to the celebrated Indian poet and lyricist Gulzar, narrating a universal story of love, unity, and togetherness. The song opens with a soul-stirring verse and builds up to an uplifting chorus, inviting listeners to join the fun. The fusion of Indian instruments like the shehnai and esraj with modern pop and electro beats creates a unique experience. Natania is joined by fellow artist DESI TRILL signee, Subhi, on this track, and together they add to the cross-cultural appeal of the song. We wanted to know more and we also had the pleasure of speaking with Natania Lalwani about the inspiration, process, and vision behind creating this song, and she had a lot to share.

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Here's what Natania had to share:

What inspired you to create 'Gulzar'? Can you share the story behind the making of this song?

So, I poured my heart out to someone, and all they said was, "Just be patient." That got me thinking, and that night I found myself in the studio, feeling like I was running out of time. That's when the song hit me!

Last July, hanging out with my buddies Subhi, Aman, and Zaiyd in LA, we decided to pull an all-nighter in the studio. By morning, the song "Gulzar" was born, just from us jamming together.

How do you approach blending English, Hindi, and Punjabi lyrics in your music? What are the challenges and rewards that come with this fusion?

My primary aim is to make it sound effortless, so I avoid overthinking it. Each language carries such a distinct emotional tone, which I find incredibly exciting when incorporating all three into one song! The process is all about trial and error to determine what fits and what doesn't. The most enjoyable part is experimenting and exploring different combinations!

Which artists or genres have influenced your sound the most, especially in creating 'Gulzar'?

To create the sound for "Gulzar," I aimed for something uniquely mine. I wanted to blend an international pop vibe with a touch of dramatic Indian dhamaka. 

How was your experience collaborating with Subhi on this track? What unique elements did she bring to the song?

I love working with Subhi. She has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard, and her writing is truly beautiful. Her ability to think in such a unique and non-generic way with her Punjabi lyrics adds a special touch to her music. I believe this distinctiveness really made the song shine and stand out. Collaborating with her has been an inspiring and enriching experience.

How fun is it for you to incorporate traditional Indian music elements into your contemporary pop songs? What do you hope listeners from different backgrounds take away from it?

 I believe that if the song calls for it, it should absolutely be tried. I never want to force anything. That said, I’ve been incorporating Indian elements with an international pop sound, and it’s the most inspired I’ve ever felt. It feels like both my roots and something new to me at the same time. Music has no borders, so I hope listeners from different backgrounds discover more Indian music through this blend. My hope is that we can create a new genre that represents both culture and India on a global stage.

The song features traditional Indian instruments like the shehnai and esraj. How did you decide on using these instruments, and what do they add to the track?

Aman, who co-wrote and co-produced "Gulzar" with me, played the esraj, and it was the most beautiful instrument I had ever heard. I knew it had to be in the song to capture the essence of falling in love. We also added the shehnai, which really boosted the energy and emotion of the track. These elements together truly brought the song to life.

As an artist navigating through both the Indian and international music industries, what are some of the key differences and similarities you’ve noticed?

Most of it is honestly the same to me, but I would love for the Indian music industry to be more open to new ideas and collaborations. Working together in the studio is where the magic truly happens. Expanding our creative boundaries and experimenting with fresh concepts can lead to incredible music.

What can your fans expect from you next? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you're excited about?

I’m so excited to be releasing music, and there’s a lot more coming! I can't share much right now, but I cannot wait for you to hear it.

What are your thoughts on the song? Tell us in the comments below

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