Musician Jay Anand Talks About His Journey As A Trans Artist In India

The Loop Lapeta hitmaker talks about his experiences living in the country as a trans man and creating the music that he wants to make
In Indias creative industry, a lot of new voices from the LGBTQ community have cropped up
In Indias creative industry, a lot of new voices from the LGBTQ community have cropped up

Pride month is winding down, but the awareness about the community should only be increasing. In India's creative industry, a lot of new voices from the LGBTQ community have cropped up who are challenging conventions and breaking barriers with their art and their determination to follow their passion. One such example is singer-songwriter Jay Anand. His breakthrough came with the Taapsee Pannu starrer 2022 action-comedy flick Loop Lapeta for which Anand sang the title track. OT chatted with the young musician about his journey in music and finding his identity in India.

Exclusive extracts here

I read somewhere that you were grooving to Michael Jackson before you could even walk. Was music something you knew you always wanted to do 

Music was definitely something that I was very keen on pursuing. I remember telling my parents I want to be a music director without even knowing what a music director does or what music direction means. But if you look at how academics are in India, with every academic year, there is something or the other which keeps on growing in terms of the intensity of the course. As a kid, I used to do everything from debate to dancing to singing to poetry. Anything that would keep me out of class I was in three sports. But by the time I was in grade 12th, I had something or the other I had to leave behind. Music was the only thing left for me by the time I graduated school. And at that point, it was evident that that was something I wanted to take up professionally.

Are you working on any new music at the moment 

Yes. I have a lot of originals in Hindi and English. I'm planning to release one song, probably by August. It's called Finfetti. I also hope to release some other tracks this year, but I am still determining how to do that. But lots of work in progress  

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How has your experience of living in India as a trans person been 

I think I have known this for the longest time, but in my formative years or even till I was 22-23, I was still unfamiliar with the kind of community present in India or if I had access to any resources. It's still very new. It is anxiety-inducing in many ways, especially when you are in an environment with unknown people like every time I have to check into the airport. But, at the same time, I have also received much support on social media and through my friends. There is still a long way, legally and socially, to transition. But I firmly have the back of my community and allies, which always helps. For instance, the work that Absolut Glassware is doing with their new campaign, 'Be An #AbsolutAlly, is so refreshing to see here. They ensured we were comfortable and involved, making you determine organizations going beyond pinkwashing and trying to change societal norms. 

You went to study in the US. How was your experience there compared to living in India in terms of exposure and acceptance 

It was actually in the US that I realized that there is literature, there are resources available, and I can talk to people. One day, one of my bosses asked me while I was working with the LA city government if I had preferred pronounces, and in my head, I was thinking, "Can I do that" That set the base for me starting to have this conversation in terms of finding resources, getting access to resources, and self-identifying with the terminology. 

Do you like travelling 

I love travelling. Not to a lot of South Asian countries anymore. I struggle a lot to find vegetarian food as I'm a vegetarian. But yeah, I definitely enjoy travelling. I have been to about four countries and have travelled well within India too. 

Who are your musical inspirations 

I listen to a lot of singer-songwriters and a lot of commercial music also. Some of my favourite artists are Damien Rice, Michael Jackson, and Bruno Mars, and bands like Maroon 5 and Coldplay. But my major inspirations have come from John Mayer, Jason Mraz, and Ben Howard. If I have to speak of any of the Indian artists, I think Sunidhi Chauhan is my biggest inspiration in the Indian market, in the Bollywood scene particularly. I haven't seen a more versatile singer. 

What would it be if you could give some advice to young queer people struggling with their identity 

Take it one day at a time. Try to figure out what you want and who you are, and try to avoid fitting into the binary of things or how society sees you should check into things. So take your time. Meet people. Ask relevant questions, ask for their stories, and listen to multiple stories. That will always give you something you can align with.

Cover photo credit Shutterstock

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