US-based YouTube star Vidya Vox says that, while growing up, she tried to shun her Indian heritage as she was often bullied in school. But she is now "100 per cent" proud of her roots and feels it is great to be an Indian in the US right now.
Vidya Iyer, better known by her stage name Vidya Vox, was born in the Indian city Madras (now Chennai), grew up in Virginia, and is based in Los Angeles.
Asked how she feels being an Indian in the US under Donald Trump's administration, Vidya told IANS here: "It's great. There are many people like Priyanka Chopra of South Asian descent in the media who are in the forefront right now. That's really great. While growing up, I didn't see examples like that."
"I was bullied when I was in middle school in DC, especially for being an Indian, because there weren't many Indian kids in school. And because of that, I tended to hide my Indian culture, but that changed by the end of high school. Now, I am 100 per cent proud of it. I am not going to hide it any more," she said.
"Growing up, I had a bit of an identity crisis. I spoke in Tamil at home and ate dosa and idli. At school, I would listen to Beyonce (Knowles) and eat pizza and fries," she added.
The singer, who has learnt Carnatic music, felt like she was living in two separate worlds.
"I always thought how could I marry these two worlds... even if it's for a few minutes. That's how we came up with the idea of mashups," said Vidya.
In 2015 she launched her YouTube channel with mashups of western pop hits and music from India. She has amassed over 350 million views and over three million subscribers.
Being a YouTube star, cyber bullying must be common. How does she deal with it?
"I don't look at comments. I try really hard not to. It's very difficult... people get bullied all the time. It's important to remember not to listen to them. Your music is personal. Some people connect with it and some don't. That's okay," said Vidya, popular for mashups like "Closer-Kabira" and "Love me like you do-Hosanna".
She has also come out with an album, "Kuthu Fire", consisting of original songs. To promote it, she is currently in India for a multi-city tour.
As part of 'Vidya Vox Kuthu Fire Tour', the singer, who is in her 20s, will be performing here on November 25.
Fashion brand Forever 21 is the title sponsor of the tour. Asked about her personal style, she said: "A little bit of Indo-western. I love sort of mixing Indian jewellery with Western silhouettes."
Her mother and grandmother's wardrobes also play major roles in her fashion sense.
"They (mother and grandmother) say 'I don't want the sari. I am going to throw it away or donate it.' I say, No! I will take it and recycle it and make clothes for myself," she said at the Forever 21 store at DLF Mall here.
Is she thinking of starting her own fashion line soon?
"Oh my God! That's the dream. Hopefully soon," said Vidya.