Mumbai-based artist Ambika Nayak, fondly known as Kayan, is a force to reckon with. After garnering fans for her indie, pop, soul, RnB, and electronic songs, the singer-songwriter has now been touring the country. A model as well, this fashionista equally turns eyeballs for her risqué and eccentric style as well — influences of which seep into her music videos too. In a conversation with Travel + Leisure India & South Asia, the multi-hyphenate talks about the places that have inspired her works and styles, the places she’d like to perform at, and more. By Ralan Kithan
Excerpts from the interview with Ambika Nayak aka Kayan
T+L India: You have been doing live performances in India. Which has been your most memorable experience so far?
Kayan: Every place brings a new and different experience. That’s the most fun part of what I do! I have some amazing fans in all the cities I travel to. Without them, this wouldn’t be what it is.
T+L India: Tell us about your latest single DFWM.
Kayan: DFWM was written a while ago in collaboration with Oceantied and his production. The song is inspired from being in a toxic relationship; one where playing games takes priority over anything else.
T+L India: You have a bold and natural sense of fashion. Where do you take your fashion inspiration from?
Kayan: That definitely comes from my childhood. My mom always gave me the freedom to experiment with fashion and that helped me build my own style over the years. I worked with Divya Gursahani for a lot of my recent work. Gursahani has styled multiple projects and shoots with me. She understands my vision and helps enhance it in the most organic way. She also brings fresh ideas and has introduced me to many new ones too. That has helped this side of me grow.
T+L India: Which city in India has the best audience?
Kayan: That’s a really tough pick! I can’t even name one. Mumbai, Bengaluru , Delhi, Hyderabad, Indore, Kolkata.
T+L India: How does fashion meet music?
Kayan: To me, the visual output is almost as important as the sonic one. I love fashion and I love that I get to express that through my music videos and shoots.
T+L India: Is there any bucket-list destination where you want to perform?
Kayan: There are so many festivals I want to perform at but one venue that is on my bucket-list is Red Rocks Amphitheatre (in Colorado, USA)
T+L India: When you travel, what are the travel essentials you cannot go without?
Kayan: Lip balm, AirPods, perfume, and moisturiser. Since most of my recent travels have been city-to-city for one show after another, I need my work essentials as well — laptop, charger, USB sticks.
T+L India: Has there been any destination that has made an impact on you personally or professionally?
Kayan: I travelled to Thailand with a group of friends years ago where I jammed and sang to a friend playing the guitar. It was the first time I felt so comfortable performing in front of so many people. They were very encouraging. It helped me set the foundations of where I am today.
T+L India: How has social media treated you?
Kayan: I’ve had my own ups and downs with Instagram. But to me, it’s super useful. It’s a way for me to connect with my audience that way I like to and tell them what I’m up to.
T+L India: What’s something that you don’t miss out when travelling to a new destination?
Kayan: I always try to get recommendations for local cuisine spots. Food is one of the most important things to me.
T+L India: Does travel inspire your songwriting?
Kayan: Absolutely, yes. Being in a new place is very exciting. There are so many new things to absorb. Travelling refreshes the mind and helps clear it too.
T+L India: Tell us about your interesting travel experiences.
Kayan: I remember eating the best mutton samosas the first time I was visiting Paris. None have come close to it! Even the place was beautiful and I had a great time.
T+L India: What kind of a traveller are you?
Kayan: I’m quite adjusting as a person. I don’t really have a lot of hang-ups if I have to deal with something. But I do like convenience and comfort. I would like to experience as much as I can in a new place.
T+L India: What’s in store for you next?
Kayan: There’s a music video in the works right now. The song is in collaboration with one of my favourite artists. It’ll be out soon!