Music Is Like A Weapon For Me: Jaya Tiwari, Founder of Meri Zindagi, One Of India’s All-Women Bands
- IWB Post
- January 10, 2019
Don’t the following lyrics by Jaya Tiwari perfectly sum up the spark, passion, and grit needed to live life to the fullest?
Hum hai, hum hai dekho
Hum hai zindagi
Bin pankho ke udd sakte hain
Jeene ka fann hum rakhte hain
Humse tum seekh lo zindagi
That’s how one of India’s all-women bands, Meri Zindagi, was named. A singer, lyricist, activist, and RJ, Jaya thrives on reaching out to the audience through songs. Having written more than 100 songs, Jaya shares Meri Zindagi’s journey, representation of women in the music industry, and her mission with IWB.
How has your experience as a woman musician been?
It’s been a long journey. When I was studying, between music and home science, I really wanted to select music. But the society I grew up in never approved of music. So, I was put into theatre instead of music. My naniji used to tell me how people performing music were kept outside. But, I kept searching for jobs related to music. In 2001, I became an RJ in All India Radio. In 2007, I joined Red FM as an RJ.
But the love for music never ended. While observing other rock bands, I saw that only boys used to be there or with just a very glamorous girl among them. In 2010, I decided to form my own band. It was a women’s band and I wanted it to be unique. I took training for classical music but shifted towards rock music. We started performing in rural areas as well.
It can be observed that women in music are still not acceptable in our society. The women excelling in the fields of music, theatre, or dance are considered vulgar. Changes are happening but they are not enough.
Earlier, what were the types of instruments you used to practice with?
Earlier, it was difficult to get audiences to even turn up. And when they did, the numbers were discouraging. No money meant that we could not buy the instruments needed. So, besides a guitar, we didn’t have any other instruments and neither did we had the money. We picked up anything we could find — metal spoons, bowls, glasses, plates, and even chimtas (tongs). We practised in parks early in the mornings so that some of the band members, who were college students, would not miss classes.
This No Sutta song is a part of Anti-Smoking Drive. Song is written, composed and sung by Dr. Jaya Tiwari under Meri Zindagi (MZ) Female Rock Band. This is a mission band working for Social Welfare; the band now started a campaign against smoking.
Tell us about your jamming sessions.
We started making songs and had to practise them as well. It was a period of struggle. The team members lived in a different corners of the city and commuting was also an issue. We decided to keep the jamming session from 5am to 7am. Members would come half asleep but they used to come. Sometimes we practised in parks. Sometimes, there were family-related issues, and we thought about ending our journey. But the grit stopped us.
Through your songs, you are spreading awareness about women’s empowerment and many other social issues. Tell us about the times when your team members stood up for each other.
Music is like a weapon to me. Our mission is to save girls through our songs. There are many areas in India in which change is urgently required. Whenever we perform, we tell them that we are not against men.
The team members are like my daughters. Niharika Dubey, the synthesizer player of the band, manages everything in the group. Malviya is the guitarist of the group. She keeps us updated about apps etc. Events and their management are handled by Purvi. Saubhagya looks after clothes and makeup. Every member is so strong and respectful. Our bond has grown so much that we look after each other’s emotional, financial, and every type of well-being.
The music industry is still replete with sexism. What can be done to break this ideology?
We can see very few female musicians. It will take a lot of time to change things. Objectification of women is blatantly visible. Also, for a woman musician, it takes a lot more to be taken seriously if you’re without a man. Work done by a woman is not highlighted properly. The recognition a woman musician deserves is not provided in today’s music industry.
To break this ideology, people need to accept the fact that the music industry is for women as well. Talent will not be recognized until and unless they start accepting that. Songs are a way to reach out to the public. We should try and make music that has a social message. Awareness is highly needed.
Meri Zindagi Female Rock Band
Tell us about a Meri Zindagi song based on personal experience.
I can relate to the ‘Dreaming ke pressure cooker ki seeti ko bajne do, mere hauslon ke shank nath ko bajne do’ song. It is about encouraging girls to dream big and move out of the four walls of their kitchen. They are meant to do so much more.
The roots of misogyny can be often found at our homes, which spreads into office, college, schools, everywhere. What kind of parenting can eliminate this misogyny?
The division between men and women starts at home. The mentality needs to change that women can’t do anything. Misogyny can be removed with the idea of including all the genders in every decision. We should tell our sons to respect girls, not tell our daughters to stay in their limits.
Little details like men going to the office, women staying in kitchens, have been established in our minds from so long. Children take in every detail provided to them by their family. So, this mentality needs to be changed.