Meet Ambika Nayak, a.k.a. Kayan – Indie singer-songwriter, DJ, model, pandemic breakout star, and face of Levi’s Music Project.
“I’ve always admired what Levis stood for as a brand, and today, I love what the Music Project is doing for the industry. Making music more accessible to people by creating this hyper-connected platform for artists and fans to interact and collaborate is simply brilliant, and perhaps exactly what we need right now.” said Ambika Nayak or well, how her 100s of thousands of listeners and fans call her, Kayan, over her latest collaboration with Levis’ Music Project alongside fellow singer and DJ, Ritviz.
Whether you’re into Indie or Electronic music, Kayan knows how to stir your senses. She embraces both alter-egos with an unapologetic aesthetic of her own. Also last year, she was one of the Indian indie’s biggest breakout stars. On what her new Levi’s collaboration means to her, she tells us “I was absolutely stoked when I first found out I’d be working on Levi’s Music Project. I think, what we’ve crafted truly looks and sounds great. This has also allowed me to reach so many people which means a lot to me.”
Ambika Nayak (Kayan): Musical artist, singer, songwriter, DJ
Take us back to the beginning, how did music become a passion for you?
I’ve grown up in a world where music could be called a vantage point not only for me but my family too. My mom is a musician, grandmom’s a dancer, and everyone in my family has always been pro-arts, ensuring my life is consistently enriched by it. I too found my way to music school where I realized I could do this professionally and as a full-time gig. Soon after, I met so many like-minded artists who helped me understand the world of music a little more, leading me to where I am today.
You dabble in both, Indie and Electronic music. As an artist, how do these two alter-egos align for you?
My taste in music is highly eclectic, it’s all over the place really. Somehow, I find a strange connection with all the music I listen to and it reflects in the music I write and play. It’s something that came to me very organically. While the music I write is typically Pop, Soul, or RnB, my DJ sets are considerably more thumpy. Also, they’ve evolved into a space where I can literally spin any genre on my deck whether it’s RnB or ol’ school Hip-Hop. I also like to throw in some edits sometimes, and love experimenting with bass music and other genres.
As a multi-faceted artist today, how would you describe your aesthetic?
My aesthetic is simply a mood. Be it songwriting, singing, modeling, or DJing, there’s so much I do today and it’s all happened very organically. I have my own sense of style and personhood, which is one wholea*s mood of its own, or at least, that’s what it feels like.
Tell us about some of your creative inspirations/influences right now.
Currently, gotta be Jerreau Vandal. I’m almost always listening to his mixes and actually play a few of his edits in my own sets too. I think his modes of experimentation with genres is super fun and it really aligns with where I am right now.
What was the one thing that kept you grounded through the pandemic?
I think the responsibility of running a home and having my family and friends around is what really kept me grounded. Their support truly means the world to me. Simply having things to do really helped me stay present and having the love and support of those close to me was pretty amazing even through the roughest of times.
In this digital generation, what do you think it takes for an artist to succeed?
I think irrespective of this being in a digital generation, an artist is successful when they’re true to themselves. Each artist needs to find their own way of putting their music out there and reaching fans and like-minded artists. For me, the fact that we’re currently living in a digital world has been a huge boon. No matter where I was/am, I was able to engage and connect with my fans, one-on-one. Being able to share my thoughts with them is also really important to me.
Whenever you feel creatively burnt out, how do you unwind or reset?
Personally, whenever I feel burnt out, I simply step back from what I’m working on and try not to do anything for the rest of the day. I’m currently in the process of learning how to just relax, take my time, be okay with things or well, space off.
What do you have lined up for 2022 so far?
I’m incredibly excited to finally play as ‘Kayan Live’. I’ve been writing this music for about 2 years now and will finally be performing with an amazing band. That’s very very exciting to me. There are also tons of tracks, music videos, and collaborations currently in the works too. Stay tuned for them!
All images: Courtesy Levi’s & Ambika Nayak/Kayan/IG