Friday, June 28, 2013

A Sit Down with the Ultimate Indie Artist: Minoti Vaishnav

When we heard about triple threat (singer, writer, and film maker), Minoti Vaishnav, making waves within the indie world, we knew we had to snag her while we could. In between promoting her newly released single "So Will You", writing for web series 3 Orbs of Light, and filming her directorial debut Being Independent, we had the opportunity to have a chat with this indie darling and find out what makes her tick. 

Minoti, Thanks for taking the time out of your crazy busy schedule to sit down with us! Let's start from the very beginning - your roots. You were creatively mature as a child- writing a novelette at 9, your own songs at 11, did music demo at 13, and wrote a sitcom at 14. What inspired you at such a young age?

"I think I just watched alot of TV and listened to a lot of music! I was actually quite a loner as a child. I loved to read (still do) and loved to watch shows like Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My family has always been very musical and almost everyone in my family can play or instrument or sing. I was a huge Spice Girls fan growing up and The Beatles have also influenced my entire musical life and career. I think my creative energy flowed fromall the pop culture that I grew up with, and "you can do anything you set your mind to" motto of my family. That's what inspired me to create my own stuff."

You went to college and after graduating, and got into documentary film making. How was that experience for you, seeing as your roots were in writing and music? How did your earlier experience prepare you for your start in the industry?

Minoti and Katelyn Stark at the Directors Guild of America during production of the 28th Annual IDA Awards in 2012

"Getting into documentary film was never something that I had planned on doing. It just sort-of happened. I studied screenwriting in college and my ultimate goal is to write and produce for television. But then, I got my first internship out of college at IDA (International Documentary Association) and I never looked back.

IDA has been a great place to work and I am now officially employed with the organization, producing and coordinating their documentary film events. Learning about the documentary film industry also inspired me to make my own documentary film Being Independent. The film, which is about unsigned artists and bands and their struggles in the music industry, is shot in three countries (U.K, U.S and Germany), and is currently in production. University actually prepared me more for the producing aspects of my job, and there's definitely some creative writing involved when it comes to preparing outreach for documentary films."

As a well rounded artist, you are in a unique position, being deeply involved in several aspects of the entertainment industry. What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome? What is your advice to other indie artists facing similar challenges?

"There have been a lot of challenges, one of them being not conforming to what society expects from you. I grew up in India and people expect me to write Indian characters in my scripts. Or to write Hindi music or "Fusion" music. But that's not me! I was always influenced by music from the UK and the US, as well as TV and films from the UK and the US. People don't expect to hear the kind of music I make coming from me, and I think that is a huge problem because people already have preconceived notions about someone before they even take the time to find out more about them. I think I've been very true to myself this whole time and not conformed to societies expectations of what an "Indian artist" should be. And I think everyone should just be true to themselves and make the kind of music they want to make.

Another challenge has been financial. I financed my albums on my own (my second album was funded through Kickstarter thanks to 58 amazing backers). But as far as the work done on the albums, I produced and sound engineered, as well as wrote and performed all the songs on my album because I couldn't afford to pay for studio and engineering time. Sometimes when you don't have help with something, you gotta just do it on your own, no matter how hard it is, and I think that would be my advice to other artists out there. You're either in it to win it, and you have to put everything you have into getting your music out there."

You are a very busy woman, Ms. Minoti with several projects in the pipeline! Let's start with the release of "So Will You" the first single off of your second album The Secret Garden. The video was released on YouTube and has already hit over 110,000 views since April of this year. Such an amazing feat for an indie musician. How did you promote yourself as an indie musician to achieve such an accomplishment?

"Before I shot the video for 'So Will You', I knew that I had to find a way to get people to actually watch the video. People don't really watch video's from independent artists, so I knew I had to find a way to get people interested. I decided to put my love for television and my love for music together. I placed references to three of my favorite television shows, Supernatural, Doctor Who and Sherlock into the music video. Many people don't know this, but those three shows are somewhat of a trifecta, and chances are that someone who likes one, likes the other two as well. Together, the three shows are known as 'Superwholock'.

I started a 'Superwholock' campaign to get people to watch the video and find all the references. People were immediately interested, looking for all the references and trying to get them all. In the process, they heard my music and liked it, and that was the plan all along. You reel people in with something they already like and in the process, they discover that they also like you and your music!"

Your next project is a sci-fi webseries called 3 Orbs of Light - where you were brought on to rewrite the series while maintaining the original concept. Can you tell us a little more about this project and how as a writer is that process for you? Where can we watch the series?

"3 Orbs of Light is an amazing project and I love working on it because it's directly related to what I want to ultimately do in life. Writing, directing and producing for 3 Orbs of Light is extremely fulfilling. The writing and producing process for this is interesting because I am working with someone else's core concept.

Minoti and 3 Orbs of Light producer Cali T. Rossen looking at the script for episode one of 3 Orbs Of Light

I did get to create a rich backstory for the show before writing the first episode, which was a lot of fun. In essence, I am taking the original characters and revamping the concept to reach a wider audience.

The show was created by Phillip Kim Marra (who is also the Director of Photography for the project) and by Rachel Bailit (she also plays the lead character Rue 'Rouge' Jensen). The show is executive produced by Cali T. Rossen (she also plays Terese 'Tres' Ressen in the show). The team is absolutely great and it's been amazing working on this project with everyone.

The show is about three normal women whose lives change when the immortal wizard Kai tells them that they are destined to be the three protectors of the earth. It's set in modern day, but there's time-travel, magic and mythology involved. The show also stars Robert Weiner as Kai and Corinne LeClaire as Alison 'Astrid' Strider. We're currently in production and hope to release the show online in November 2013."

Finally, you are director and producer on the indie film, Being Independent. A film about indie artists trying to support themselves and their careers. Can you tell us more about the film? your role as producer/director?

"Being Independent is a film about the struggles, hardships and the ultimate triumphs of independent artists and bands in the music industry today. Following artists and bands in the UK, in the USA and in Germany, the film is 30 minutes long and aims to educate people about the hard work and passion that goes into independent music, and the struggles these artists go through as they support themselves and their music career."

How did you come up with the concept?

"I came up with the concept along with co-director Erik McCall when we were talking about how indie artists don't receive the recognition they deserve. Erik is the owner of a music publishing company called EDA Music Publishing Limited and he also owns the radio station EDA Music Radio. He's also an independent artist himself. With the two of us knowing first hand how difficult it us for independent artists, we decided to make a documentary to show the world exactly what we go through. We brought on producer Kitty Kalkbrenner from Germany to help us with the project. She has been amazing as well and our film is lucky to have such great people involved with it."

When can your fellow indies (and public) expect to be able to see the film?

"We're still filming Being Independent and collecting interviews with our featured bands and artists and we're hoping to release the film by the end of the year."

Minoti performing at Orange Coast College

Whats next for Minoti Vaishnav? Directing, Producing, promoting the album?

"All of it! I'll be busy producing and writing 3 Orbs of Light, as well as with IDA's screening series and the IDA Awards that are coming up in December. I'm also planning on a second music video coming soon, and am still working on getting Being Independent ready for release. There's a lot going on and I'm ready to keep adding even more to my already full plate!"

Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us, Minoti. We will be sure to continue to keep an eye out for all your work!

For more on Minoti or her her projects, follow here:



Being Independent:


3 Orbs of Light:


1 comment:

  1. Great article. She is very talented of what she does and I am so happy to be her Friend