Kayan Is Unstoppable
Kayan Is Unstoppable

Post the release of her new single ‘Stop Calling Me’, the 25-year-old musician takes us behind the scenes

In theory, the Chinese and Indian social media scenes have been mutually exclusive, but earlier this year, both were abuzz with the term “kayan.” In China, it’s associated with the nightclub culture and the cool kids within it (220 million on Douyin, China’s answer to TikTok), while in India, it’s linked to Ambika Nayak, whose last name spells her stage name in reverse, the 25-year-old artist who gained fame in 2020 with her single also titled “Cool Kids.”


Today, the cool kid from Mumbai stands as one of the most popular artists in the industry: unapologetic, unafraid, and in your face at a time when social media operates on the eyes and likes of a voyeuristic audience. But what may come across to some as provocative is really Nayak channelling her next-level confidence backed by smooth vocals, equally edgy lyrics, and 2000s-inspired pop music, evident in her new single ‘Stop Calling Me’.

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*Excerpts from the interview


How did you start your professional journey as a musician? 

AN: I joined the True School of Music about eight years ago. I was surrounded by many like-minded people who wanted to make music, perform music, and be in the world of music. While I was at my music school, I started performing shows that were cover gigs, formed a band and we were just performing at an open mic night when the founder of our school gave us the opportunity to play at a festival called Nariyal Paani that used to happen in Alibaug. That was the start of me and my own act. This band was called Kimochi Yokai. 

What does your creative process look like? 

AN: Inspiration exists everywhere. It could hit you at any time and anything could inspire you. But to actively make music, I have to make time on my calendar for that. I’m very grateful for it but with the kind of schedule and life that I have been recently living, it’s been very difficult to just sit down and write music. But to actively sit down and make music, I have to set time aside for it. So, I mark one week on my calendar that’s only for music. It’s not happened that frequently but the plan moving forward is to make more music.

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Who have been some of your favourite style icons?


AN: When I was in school, I used to watch Hannah Montana on TV and even though I didn’t consider her a style icon, I used to find it very exciting that she would switch from being a very glamorous person to her usual self, Miley Cyrus, which is probably how I dress. I’m either in my sweats or I’m ready to get on stage.

Then around the time when I was a teenager, I was also obsessed with Rihanna in the Pon de Replay music video and the low-waist denim era. All the R&B icons of that time, like Beyonce and Rihanna were pop idols that I used to be very fascinated by. I also had a very emo-punk phase, I was obsessed with Avril Lavigne and the Goth Princess energy.

What is your go-to outfit when you’re not performing?

AN: I do like experimenting with my style a lot, so it depends on my mood. If I’m not feeling too dressy, then I will probably just wear a baggy T-shirt with boots. If I do feel like making an effort and I have the energy to do so, I’d probably throw on a really nice dress. But more often than not, I have these red track pants from Adidas that I thrifted from some page on Instagram and I wear them for dinners, parties, and festivals, and I also wear them to travel all the time. So, I’d probably wear those pants.

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Do you ever feel the pressure of always dressing up for performances or for social media?


AN: I do feel pressure to always show up or leave an impression. But I think over time, I have also gotten more comfortable with not having it to be a superficial thing. It doesn’t have to be just about my look. I do pay a lot of attention to my fashion and how I dress. But my mom always said to me that you could wear a sack and you’d stand out. She’s reinforced this so many times ever since I was a kid that over time, I’ve become a little less conscious of how I dress up. I do it for the sake of enjoyment. I feel like no matter what I wear, I can still leave an impression by just being myself.

What is the biggest no-no when it comes to fashion? 

AN: I don’t like bandanas. Although I have worn one for a shoot, I was getting paid to wear it.

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How important do you think is the power of social media in today’s age?


AN: Personally speaking, it has been a platform for me to connect with my fans and give them an idea of who I am just the way I’d like to be. There’s no one else dictating my story for me. This has really given me a platform to engage with my audience in a way that they get to see a very real sense of me. It’s a place where I get to tell them about when I’m dropping music, when I’m playing next and what I’m doing in my life. It has been a very useful and helpful space for me. I’ve also seen a lot of musicians who are not that active on Instagram, and it almost works out the same for them or even better. So, at the end of the day, it depends on how your music connects with people and how they reach your music. There are so many ways for people to find out about someone’s music.

Boiler Room Sets are synonymous with creating an intimate environment between the artists and the audience. With that in mind, what adjustments did you have to make to your set in terms of performance and style? 

AN: Boiler Room X Ballantine’s Glassware True Music Studios was a dream set for me. That was one of the best nights of my life. I’ve lost my voice and my whole body hurts so much but it was worth every bit. Every time I used to play songs that I have been playing for years, I would think this is going to be on my set if I ever play Boiler Room. Putting the tracks together for the set was really special and I took a lot of time out to do it. I wanted it to be an experience for my audience. I really wanted to create moments that everyone would remember. I just wanted to ‘stay true’ to myself and play music that I like listening to and playing. I played music from five to six different genres. I did not stick to any one particular thing. I didn’t make a set to please the audience. I just wanted it to be an honest, raw, and full-of-energy set and I think I delivered exactly that.

Feature Image Credits – Mayank Mudnaney

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