Banerjee Beats: Musical Notes From Foreign Shores
In an exclusive interview, young musicians, Anushka and Akanksha, speak about their band, Banerjee Beats, their musical journey, and the force behind their musical endeavours, their mother
By Monali Bordoloi • 7 min read
Is your teenage child interested in music? As parent, you could be their guiding star. There could be no better example of this than the up and coming musical band, Banerjee Beats. Formed by two sisters, Anushka (20 years) and Akanksha (17 years), Banerjee Beats features an eclectic range of both Bollywood and Western music. Their videos on YouTube are hugely popular and their fan following is steadily growing. The sisters are based in California, USA, and produce their videos with help from their parents.
In a conversation that we are sure will inspire our teenage readers (and their parents), ParentCircle catches up with Anushka and Akanksha and the force behind their musical endeavours, their mother, Somali Banerjee.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Anushka and Akansha, tell us how your musical journey started?
Since childhood, we were interested in music. Both of us have been learning music here in California, USA, from a very young age. Even though we are away from India, we have a strong musical bond with our roots. Both of us have learnt Hindustani Classical music as well as Western music. We’ve also learnt how to play the piano. Akanksha plays the saxophone as well.
The name of your band, Banerjee Beats has a nice ring to it. How did you choose the name?
It was decided after a few brainstorming sessions! Our mentor, who is a Bengali music director, and our mother came up with the name together. As Banerjee is our surname, we wanted that in our band’s name.
Do you think social media is giving a better and wider platform to upcoming talents?
Absolutely! As we all know, there is a lot of nepotism in the movie and music industry, which makes it very hard for people without any connections make their break. Thanks to social media, commoners like us get the opportunity to showcase our talent in front of millions of people. This would have been almost impossible before social media. It has also removed geographic boundaries. You could be performing in Turkey and people in India could be watching and appreciating your performance. That’s the power of social media.
Akanksha, you play an uncommon instrument, saxophone. How did you develop an interest for it?
Akanksha: I was always fascinated by jazz and the amazing instrument that accompanies it, the saxophone. After learning the piano for a few years, I told my parents about my real interest, which was to learn the saxophone and be a part of the school jazz band. I was fortunate to find a very good teacher to teach me the basics, and now I’ve been learning it for over six years.
Who are your favourite singers/composers and why?
We grew up listening to both Indian and Western music. Both of us like many Bollywood as well as western singers and composers, so it is really difficult to pick a favourite. From the current lot, we like Arijit Singh and Shreya Ghoshal. Of course, musical legends like Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Alka Yagnik are an inspiration for all aspiring singers. Both of us also adore the music made by the beloved RD Burman. Anushka is also into western music and loves listening to Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Taylor Swift.
How do you balance studies and music and performances?
It’s not difficult if you are focused. Everyone needs a break. We don’t think children should be studying all the time. Extra-curricular activities are equally important for the overall development of a person. Our parents have always backed us to pursue what our hearts desire. They have never pressurized us to score good marks or perform well academically. They have always wanted us to spend lot of time on music as that’s our passion and it gives us happiness.
Your videos on YouTube have been received extremely well by viewers. How does it feel to be accepted by audiences around the world?
It gives us immense pleasure to see that lot of people are enjoying our music. Akanksha’s Neele Neele Ambar Par got 3.5 million views. Recently, our duet performance of Chura Liya Hai got over a million views. There are many other songs that have received a lot of appreciation. We can’t thank the people who like our performances enough. Thanks a lot for taking time out of your busy lives to enjoy our music. That will keep us motivated to keep producing more music.
What are your hobbies?
Anushka: I love cooking.
Akanksha: I love photography, baking as well as sewing.
Do you sisters fight? How do you resolve arguments?
Like all other siblings, we do have our moments of disagreement. However, we have never had physical fights. Our mom gets very upset when we fight and both of us get reprimanded if she catches us fighting. But like all sisters, our fights are very short-lived and they help us bond better.
Tell us about your future plans?
Anushka: I am interested I finance and want to become an accountant. I would like to work at a big accounting firm as an auditor, or work in an investment bank.
Akanksha: I am still in high school and hasn’t decided yet. I am considering becoming an either an attorney or a sales and marketing executive at a consumer products company.
However, no matter what professions we choose, we will continue our musical journey and keep entertaining people.
Somali Banerjee, mother to Anushka and Akanksha, also had a quick chat with us about how she supported her daughter in following their dreams.
Tell us any memorable incidents while raising your daughters, Anushka and Akanksha.
They are just 2.5 years apart, so they almost grew up together. When Akanksha was very little, she would go to drop her Didi at school and one day she just disappeared while I was talking with some other moms. I was at a loss. We started searching the whole school and were about to call the police when Anushka’s teacher told the school office that Akanksha was safely sitting next to her Didi in her class.
Once, at a local Durga Puja function, they performed a Bengali song together when they were really young. A few women came up to me after the performance and told me that my daughters were very musically talented and that I should make sure they develop a passion for music. It was a proud moment for me as a mother.
Entertainment industry is full of ups and downs. How do you help your daughters stay grounded?
Well, for now, they have just performed on social media and have not seen what the glamour world is all about. All I tell them is they should not focus on results. Just continue to work hard and focus on the journey. Even if they do not reach any destination, the journey will be enjoyable.
Do you help them in terms of styling and presentation for their performances?
Oh yes! I am their manager too and they have started calling me ‘momager’ for fun. I take care of all the background decorations and their clothes during their performances. I also work with many folks in the industry to ensure their performances are of good quality. There are many people who have helped them in their journey and I cannot thank all of them enough. Without their support, it would have been impossible for Banerjee Beats to be what it is today. We still have a long way to go and we look forward to everybody’s love and support.
About the author:
Written by Monali Bordoloi on 30 November 2020.
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