SOUND OFF: SOMA CHHAYA
Aug 22, 2020
Typically associated with her iconic television and movie roles such as portraying Goldi Nahir in the infamous Canadian teen drama Degrassi – Next Class on Netflix, 2015’s Poltergeist reboot and the Golden Globe and Academy Award nominated, The Breadwinner, Soma Chhaya is going against the grain as a songstress.
They call her music “Minx-Pop”. Soma Chhaya is notorious for her pop sounds mixed with dark, flirtatious and cunning lyrics. She challenges what ‘normal’ means as each of her singles could easily be cast in different genres. What binds her music together is the common lyrical themes of seduction, lust, immoral behavior and sardonic views of the world. Her latest release Parasite sends an alluring message of what happens when you poke the wrong artist. After all, revenge is best served in success and in this case, it comes wrapped as an absolute banger!
Like other artists who are working on music right now, Soma has honed in on her ability to be a one woman music machine in her ability to write, produce, direct and edit her own music videos. The song also comes as the 8th single release where she created all the visual aspects of this song from home in her bedroom during quarantine, but if you think this artist is stopping at music, you’re sadly mistaken. Soma has also been diligently working for merch for her fans aka the Alien Clan (we’ll tell you more about that later). The merch can be found here on her website and includes a line of parasite themed masks its well as a GORGEOUS Glitter-Glam Face Mask (which you can find in the gallery). If you’re like us and have to order more than on, use the code ‘PopularTV’ for 15% off of your order!
We spoke with the ‘Parasite’ singer on the details of her new single, her fan base, and what venue she’s ready to perform at.
1. Tell us about your new single, ‘Parasite,’ and how this song came to be?
My song parasite is an alternative pop track. It’s kind of dancey and its got some elements of 80s music into because I wanted it to be something people could groove to this song came to be very authentically. I was in the studio with my producer Henri Martel and he was just playing a beat and I was trying to think of lyrics on the spot to see what I felt in the moment and what I felt like writing about which is different for me. Usually I pre-write my songs before I go into the studio but this time we thought we’d try it a little different and all that kept coming up were memories of different times people had wronged me or hurt me and screwed me over and I didn’t stand up for myself. I am a very sensitive person and soft spoken and sometimes too introverted for my own good when it comes to conflict. I don’t stand up for myself or speak my mind when people are yelling at me or they’re accusing me of just flat out rude. I wanted to write a song as an anthem of encouragement to myself. To remind myself of the parasite than I can be. That I have some sort of drive within me to be able to stand up for myself to speak my mind and to get revenge. There’s nothing wrong with getting revenge and the best kind of revenge is success. So, I thought what better way to get revenge than to write a killer song and to speak my mind while doing it. I also hoped this song would be an anthem to anyone else who has problems speaking their mind as a reminder of the boss ass bitch they can be.
2. Give us a glimpse into your musical upbringing. Who or what initially influenced your passion for music?
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember – longer than acting. I was brought up on Bollywood movies. I am Indian and my parents wanted to always make sure I had a connection to who I was and my background. They always put on Bollywood movies for me for the movies which are musicals for those who don’t know. There are soundtracks for every single movie and every 10 minutes they break out into song and dance, so I always grew up with that kind of music around me. I’m an only child so on Friday nights, my parents would always entertain me by putting on Bollywood movies and we would have a dance party. We would listen to Bhangra which is another kind of Punjabi music so that always influenced me. Music was always an outlet for me when I couldn’t find the words to say or to speak my mind or express myself, I would do it with song.
3. What would you be doing right now if you weren’t singing/acting?
If I wasn’t singing or acting, I would be a part of a consulting firm for marketing and branding! Something still kind of creative, but on the business side. My father is a is an accountant and he is very business savvy so that definitely rubbed off on me. I’m pretty good with finances and I’m very good with branding and marketing because I do that for myself anyways when it comes to acting and music, so I would definitely work in that field. I would also love to make slogans for people because I’m so good with my words as a singer and I feel like the slogans and making catchy phrases for companies is something that I would rock at and I would really enjoy doing!
4. As an artist and actress, do you feel more comfortable being on stage than off-stage?
There is an element of comfort when I’m on set and the cameras are rolling. Ironically, when the cameras are on me, I feel more relaxed. Performing and entertaining people makes me feel at home knowing that people are entertained by whatever it is I’m doing even if I’m talking in front of a group of people or telling a story or a joke, I just love to entertain people. That’s my favorite thing to do, so I would say so. Being on stage for singing sometimes I still get nervous though. I do get stage fright every now and then. So sometimes no but for the most part, yes.
5. What initially made you pursue a degree at FIDM and what were you studying?
I was studying marketing and merchandising at FIDM ( the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in Los Angeles and I attended for about a year, but recently dropped out to focus on my career more. But what made me want to go to that school is actually full circle. I feel like I was studying something that I knew I would be able to use no matter what I chose in the future. I am very sure of the career I chose now in acting and music, and I’ve decided to put all of my energies and efforts into that.
6. You were a part of the Oscar nominated project ‘The Breadwinner’. What initially drew you to this role?
When I first heard of The Breadwinner and I knew I was going out for the role of Shauzia, I read the entire book in one night. I couldn’t put it down. What I loved about the story, was that it was something very similar to what my grandmother went through during the partition between India and Pakistan. Her story was similar because she had maybe seven siblings who were younger than her and she was the eldest and she lost her parents very young because of the war, so she had to go out and make a living and earning for herself and her family to put food on the table. During that time and in that place, women weren’t necessarily allowed out of their houses without an escort for safety reasons and also because women were oppressed at that time. She would have to cut her hair and dress like a boy and go out and get food just like the main character Parvana in ‘The Breadwinner’. Knowing that my grandmother had such a similar story and that there are so many women even to this day who go through that… I couldn’t think of a bigger honor to them, than to be able to tell this story and help bring more awareness to the story.
7. How did you get your start into veganism and what are some misconceptions about it?
I think I’ve been vegan for about… six years, I think? Maybe seven? It’s been a really long time. I think it went vegan at 14, so maybe it’s eight years. What initially got me interested in veganism was finding out about how animals are mistreated in the process of creating meat products and dairy products and any kind of animal byproducts including leather and silk. Not to get too graphic, but they actually take silkworms and boil them to get more silk out of them. I was not OK with the abuse and the harm that goes into hurting animals just for my tastebuds, my pleasure, or just for my own fashion sense. I think some misconceptions about vegans is that 1. That we want to convert people. I really couldn’t care less about what anyone else does. I mean it’s your own prerogative what you eat and what you wear. I’m not here to tell people what to do. I am here to live my life the way I want to. I feel like if I don’t tell you what to do, don’t tell me what to do and what to wear since there are a lot of people that try to tell me that veganism isn’t healthy and I’m ruining my body. We’re just doing our thing and chilling. 2. I didn’t go vegan to get made fun of so please stop making fun of me.
8. You’ve gone on record mentioning that you’re always playing music from Eminem, Miley Cyrus, Grimes and so many other unapologetic artists. What are some top selects from them?
I think my favorite song from Eminem is Kim, very dark, very twisted song, but his performance and it is unbelievable. He is so committed and the grit in which he delivers it is amazing. If you haven’t listened to it, give it a listen. It’s an insane song, but I love it because it’s like you’re reading his diary and his mind. It’s just so pure and unfiltered which I think is what art is for. My favorite song from Miley is Lighter. It’s such a gentle love ballad and her words… she’s a pop artist primarily, but it’s so the opposite of that. I feel like it’s a psychedelic album and you just feel like you’re inside her mind. My favorite song by Grimes is Artangels hands-down. The melody is beautiful and it’s just kind of chaotic but just kind of ethereal and angelic. I also respect her a lot because she produces all of her material. She’s just so talented. And she’s Canadian
9. I LOVE that your fan base is called the alien clan. Where did that name come from?
My fanbase calls themselves the alien clan mainly on YouTube than anywhere else. I think a fan came up with it since I always called myself an alien because I always feel so weird and out of place a lot of the time in life and just alienated. So, then they started calling themselves aliens and said they were little aliens and then I said we were an alien clan. So that’s how that came to be. I love outer space, astronomy, astrology, and anything to do with the galaxy and the universe, so aliens was the perfect thing to sum that up. I was actually thinking of getting an alien tattoo at some point. I do actually have some outer space tattoos on my wrist.
10. Once we’re back up and open, are there any venues or songs of yours that you’re aiming to perform?
I have been waiting to perform in LA! When everything was open, I was in school full-time so I never had the chance to perform in LA when I moved here. So now that I’m not in school, I cannot wait to hit up all the venues that I’ve been seeing my friends perform at, and finally perform myself. I have yet to have my LA debut, but when I have it, I’ll be sure to make sure you guys know about it so all of my friends and family in LA can come and join, hang out, and we can party and celebrate the fact that we are free! So, I will keep you guys posted on that. I think one of my favorite venues in LA that I’ve been dying for perform at, is the Moroccan Lounge. I’ve been there a couple times see my friends perform and it is the perfect venue because it’s big enough to hold about 100 to 200 people, but it’s still intimate. I love it there.
11. With the vibe of your sound, what show, or film do you think it’d be a great fit for?
I’ve always wanted my song to get synced to something because I feel like I make cinematic music because I have a film background. I think that my songs would be a really good fit for like a teen angst or teen horror type of show or movie like the MTV show ‘Scream’ would be a really good fit a really good fit for my song 15!. I always have very dark, twisty, kind of demonic lyrics or very unsettling sounds in my music that I feel like would be very good for something kind of angsty. Maybe a CW thriller that would be cool.
12. Do you think that Poptarts are ravioli?
This question is making my mind do a backflip right now. That’s insane, I never thought about it. They are the same shape as ravioli. Wow. I guess it is? What is the definition of a ravioli? Is it just grain pasta? Does it have to be pasta? I guess a Poptart is a sweet gigantic ravioli. That is such a weird question I love it. *googles definition* I guess it’s not “ravioli”… but it could be desert ravioli. I don’t see why that can’t happen.
13. Shuffle all of your music. What are the first five songs that come up?
- ‘In a Minute’ by Poppy
- ‘Gone and Found’ by MØ
- ‘Cake Up’ by Lil Debbie
- ‘Super Girl’ by Hannah Montana
- ‘Om Namah Shivaya’
14. Can you tell us a secret?
I like this question. Let’s get deep for a sec. I’ll tell you a good secret. A good secret is that I don’t know what I’m doing… 90% of the time, and I don’t think a lot of people do. I know that people look up to me and I love that, but I feel that online it’s easy to have a false representation that I know what I’m doing, and I’ve got my shit together, but I don’t. I often have days where I’m crying and frustrated not knowing if I’m going in the right direction or if I’m making any progress. So, I just want you all to know you’re not alone if you do have those feelings. I don’t know what I’m doing. Especially right now in quarantine. Even if you’re not sure where you’re going, take one foot in front of the other, and just keep going. I always remind myself of why I’m doing it. I love to take people away from their own worries of life and distract them and entertain them. That’s my purpose. As long as I keep that doing that and fulfilling my purpose, and keep that at the forefront of my mind, it doesn’t matter if I know what I’m doing or not, I just keep moving. There’s some advice and a secret.
15. What is a question you wish you got asked more?
I wish I got asked more about my lyrics because they are so carefully constructed, and I put so much time and effort into them to really tell a story. Some of them I turn into a puzzle or riddle so if you think about them long enough, you figure out the true story behind the song. For this song, I carefully wrote the words so that everything relates back to the title which is Parasite. There different lines like ‘I’ll collect my colony and crawl down your throat so you can’t breathe’. That’s one of my favorite lyrics. That for me is a metaphor of me collecting every energy and every cell in my body and shutting somebody up if they are talking wrong about me or if they are hurting me, or offending me that is my metaphor of me standing up for myself and when you think of the throat you think of that’s where a voice comes from it’s me shutting that down and standing up for myself. So, if you look at all of my words, they have such a detailed meaning behind them that I wish more people would ask about, because that’s what I spend all my time on, perfecting my words.
Fear not Alien Clan, you can keep up with our new favorite songwriter on Instagram , Twitter, and YouTube AND check back in next week to see a fun game that we filmed just for you! In the meantime, go and stream her new single Parasite.