Tamil Nadu Is My Second Home: Singer Navz47 on Penning Soup Songs for Girls
Tamil Nadu is my second home. My first home doesn't give me the freedom to let me act the way I want to: Navz47
Producer: Smitha TK
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
‘Paarthaale kaathadi pol naanum parakiren
Nee thottal poo pola malargiren virigiren
Ean ean ean intha sodahanai
Ean ean ean unnai santhithaen.’ (Song: Kaathadi by Navz47)
There are no soup songs for girls in Tamil so someone had to do it. This song came from a very personal space and is very close to my heart.Navz47
In 2018, when Srilankan singer Navz47 lost her job, she packed her bags and traveled from Montreal to Chennai. With hardly any money on her, she reached out to a friend to help her make a music video. Getting the outfits stitched by the neighbourhood tailor, practicing in Marina beach, a contact roping in his friends as background dancers and uploading the video on YouTube with no marketing strategy was one of the best decisions of her life, she said.
Within hours, the song Pattasu blew up and AR Rahman's music platform Maajja reached out to her. Her recent number, Neeye Oli with the Canadian Tamil rapper Shan Vincent De Paul, produced by composer Santhosh Narayanan and written by Arivu, is also a massive hit.
“Everything started happening because I took one conscious decision to shoot a music video and that is how life is. You just have to open the first door..no matter what. Push it, borrow money, have to be in debt... whatever be the case. And then all the other doors open.”Navz47
What's in a Name?
NAVZ47 is a name adopted by Naveeni Athanasious Philip. “My brother-in-law gave us nicknames and so he named me Navz. The 47 is because 4 and 7 are my (lucky) numbers and I associate my verses to being as powerful as AK47 so Navz47. If my number was 4 and 6, I don't think Navz46 or Navz48 would sound as cool,” she told The Quint.
Back in 2018, Navz said she identifies herself as a rapper but in the past few years she has proved her mettle as a singer and songwriter as well.
“Sometimes I write poems, sometimes songs, spoken word, sometimes I just want to sing. So, I decided I am just going to call myself an artist,” she said.
The India Connect
Since her first experience acted as a good luck charm, Tamil Nadu is very close to Navz.
“I feel Tamil Nadu is my second home. My first home probably doesn't give me the freedom to let me act the way I want to but when I go to Tamil Nadu, I am just like the local girls. I wear pottu and sarees and walk around.”Navz47
As I was interviewing her, a vision board pinned behind Navz47 gleamed. On it were pictures of AR Rahman, Santhosh Narayanan and other music masterminds she had grown up listening to and dreamt of collaborating with someday.
Navz had a life goal to meet AR Rahman and she couldn’t contain her excitement when his company reached out to her.
“I still haven't met him. But I told my mom that I don't care if my music goes anywhere, AR Rahman knows I exist. I grew up listening to AR Rahman, Santosh Narayanan, Hip hop Tamizha. And I never ever thought i would meet them, work with them. Soon, my music album will drop,” she said.
She added that she looked up to rapper Arivu as a lyricist and hopes to work with him someday.
Her favourite musician and writer is Kavignar Kannadasan. “Someone once told me that my poems are simple to understand and that is the biggest compliment I've probably received. Because I look up to Kannadasan. He talks about his friend, girlfriends, alcohol addiction....so simple. If you read his poems you could understand his lifestyle,” she said.
Though Navz grew up in Sri Lanka’s Colombo, her family hailed from the war-torn Jaffna. She recollected how her mother had shared stories of her brother getting arrested and her neighbour being shot dead.
“My mother never took us to Jaffna during our childhood. So the first time I visited Jaffna was in 2016 and I fell in love. I felt like this is home. I have written a song for the house called Pon Illam. Illam means house and also refers to Eelam. It is about the house, the neighbourhood, how beautiful the village is and the people. I am shedding light on the good parts of Jaffna and also the bad parts like the war, disappearances.”
The Journey from Sri Lanka to Canada
Navz penned her first song at the age of 15, and the song, she said came to her in a dream. “The first song I wrote was when I was 15-years-old. My family — mother, my older sister, younger brother younger sister and I — had just moved to Montreal then. I had this dream about a little girl named Malli from Jaffna, Sri Lanka and she was narrating her life story. In my dream, she was taking me to alleys, introducing me to people. So, when I woke up, I literally wrote down all that I saw," she said.
I’ve received backlash for this song as I am using words like shells and referring to things that have happened back at home, while singing and dancing. If I am going to get cancelled because of that song, then maybe that's how I am supposed to end. I am ready for it.Navz47
Navz said she often used music as a space to vent when she was bullied. As a Tamil girl who was unapologetically herself wearing pottu and eating Tamil food by hand, she faced a lot of harassment in school. But Navz was unfazed and she said she derived her strength from her mother who constantly pushed her to be fearless.
“When I moved to Canada I didn't speak the language. The fashion sense was completely different. My Amma cooks, so the jackets and coats and everything is soaked in that smell. So, when I walk around everyone would say I smell like curry. My mother raised me that way to talk back against people. Almost like she knew this would happen someday,” she said.
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