Amidst a cold pandemic I landed the opportunity to meet one of the nation’s most bankable recording artists over a telephone call, (Hi Lisa!). My thirty minute telephonic interview with the Indian American singer-songwriter felt like I was catching up with an old friend that I haven’t met in years (oh, how I wish we were friends. LOVE HER). Confession: Just playing her music on loop has pulled me out of countless bad days. So, this interview was a big deal for me — not only as an editor but also as just a regular person. Post praying to the lords and chanting mantras, I gathered up the courage to dial her number. I asked her if she’d be open to a quick telephonic interview and no, she did not request to contact her manager. Mishra responded, ‘sure, I’m in’ and yes, I darted to my flatmate’s room and screeched, ‘She said YES!’.
To state the obvious, she has several hit records and there’s no denying the magnitude of her celebrityhood. However, as her personality came to life during the interview, there was something comforting in discovering just how raw, relatable and normal she really is. In this conversation, the fiercely private pop culture phenomenon opens up to Nykaa about love, holistic beauty, what not to do on your first date, how to deal with online trollers and more. Presenting our digital star of the month— the one and only, Lisa Mishra.
Q. Okay, first of all, how are you and how has quarantine been going for you?
Mishra:I think everybody just took 2020 to really slow down. It has also been a really good time for a lot of artists, especially musicians to complete projects that we left behind and concentrate on redefining our craft. Quarantine for me has just been a lot of artistic exploration and zoning into what I want to do musically.
Q. From being a data analyst, you became an overnight sensation with your rendition of Tareefan. Tell us a little bit about that and your favorite part of this beautiful turn of events.
Mishra:Yeah, ofcourse. I think for me the favorite part is that I am finally doing the thing I love most. And that’s making music. These opportunities don’t seem very real to people who don’t come from the industry, so the fact that it happened is still bewildering and amazing to me. When you’ve wanted it to happen for so long and it’s not going the way you thought it would, it takes a lot out of you and you just get a little bit disheartened over time. You start to doubt whether you will ever reach the real stage. But now I’m here and have finally reached a place where people are listening. That said, every single day has been surreal. I have not gotten used to this. I mean, there is honestly no getting used to such a drastic lifestyle change. I was not anywhere close to making this decision until Rhea (Rhea Kapoor) reached out. It’s still a dream.
Q. Social media as we all know now, is a boon and a bane. While it helps most artists connect directly with the audience, the internet can get brutal. How do you deal with trolls?
Mishra: I don’t know if I necessarily entertain the idea of ‘don’t pay them heed’. Because I think the trolling culture has gotten somewhat out of hand. So I feel like it’s better to just nip it in the bud and not let them get away with saying whatever they want. Sometimes on my live chats people notice that I just block. Someone says something derogatory towards me or just horrible things towards women, I block them while I’m in the middle of an Instagram live and call it out. Because I don’t think it does anyone any good to let them keep speaking like this and let those sentiments fester. So, I’m a big believer in the block button. Everyone should totally do the same because I think trolls thrive on other people’s insecurities.
Q. What is the first thing you do when you get up?
Mishra:Oh, I’ve become a huge water drinker. I used to ignore it until I realised it affects everything from your energy to your skin to your eating habits. Just staying hydrated is especially important in a city as humid as Bombay. It has such a direct impact on your skin. So yes, I drink a bunch of water. I also wash my face with my Clinique foam cleanser, which I actually buy from you guys! I buy everything on Nykaa! But I should mention, I’m also lucky to have good skin genetically. Another product that I use on the daily is a good sesderma Vitamin C cream.
Q. What’s your favorite lipstick that you wear on repeat?
Mishra: So, no one has really confirmed or denied this for me and I don’t see it anywhere in India but M.A.C makes this beautiful color called persistence abroad. I have yet to find it in India. It’s a really good color for people that are medium skin tone or tanned. Oh, and Smashbox has another one called Made It. And both of them are matte lipsticks. I just love matte products in general.
Q. Three beauty products you cannot live without?
Mishra: I always have a concealer, blush and mascara with me. I think the three as a combo even on your most tired days can make you look a little bit more awake and alive.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your diet and how you maintain a healthy gut
Mishra: I have no sweet addiction at all. However, I have a very bad salt addiction. So, I’ve been weaning myself off of snacks this past year because I’m a habitual salty snacker. Those who follow me might have noticed that I recently switched to a complete vegan and gluten-free diet all of December. I think my main focus is making sure I have a lot of good fibre in my diet and then I just take a lot of vitamins. I wanted to do an extreme sort of detox and get myself in a habit of eating more vegetables. Now my greatest addiction is just veggies.
Q. Do you have a DIY beauty recipe that you’ve learnt from your mom or grandma?
Mishra:Haldi and turmeric. And for hair it’s just coconut oil. I guess the reason why it’s accepted in all families in India is because it actually works. And I have problems with my hair because I have medium to thin hair. So, I really do need a legitimate oil massage and some deep cleansing with coconut oil very regularly.
Q. What does your fitness regimen look like?
Mishra: I’ve been consistently going to my yoga teacher and we figured out a routine that helps me get my core workout while also allowing me to get physiotherapy and strengthen my neck because of my injury. I also eat really lean and follow strict portion control because I know that I would eat everything as much as I wanted if I could. Laughs.
Q. Valentine’s day is just around the corner. Without asking you who you’re dating, can you tell us what love means to you?
Mishra:Yeah, sure. So…
Q. Wait, are you dating?
Mishra:Am I dating? Laughs. Well, only time will tell. If and when I am, people will know. I think everyone is just perpetually used to me being single. It’s a running joke on the internet. So, even if I tell them I’m dating, nobody will believe me. Trust me.
Q. Thank you so much for sharing that. Okay, so what does love mean to you?
Mishra: I think my understating of love in one word is just honesty. I think if two people are just very honest and communicative, they will weather any storm.
Q. So Lisa, the million-dollar question. Do we need a man to man to make us happy?
Mishra:Omg NO. I’ve never really liked the idea of having to find your other half because I think people are perfectly whole. However, there’s so much goodness that can come out of meeting somebody with whom you can share yourself and your growth. Working on yourself over time with somebody just helps take a load of your shoulders. So, I think it’s healthy to have a partner and if it makes you happy, great. But I don’t think it’s necessary.
Q. What would you do if your date was 30 mins late to the dinner?
Mishra: Ohhh, this has happened so many times. So, if my date is 30 minutes late, I first give them the benefit of the doubt because we live in a city like Bombay with constant traffic. But yeah, I’m a boring person so I take calls, work or complete a few meetings. I make use of that time instead of getting too bothered about why they are late.
Q. Have you ever experienced a date that went completely wrong? And have you ever gotten catfished?
Mishra: I have thankfully not gotten catfished. But a lot of my male friends have, eeks. But yes, a lot of dates have gone wrong and the one thing I’ve learned is to not bring up politics on the first date. Laughs. Because I’m very vocal and opinionated and I’ve been on dates with people where it scares them. I guess you can only get there after you build a solid foundation and then get into the hard stuff. Don’t do it on day one.
Q. What would you do if you could only pick 5 pieces of clothing to wear for the next 6 months?
Mishra: Ripped jeans, always. I don’t own jeans that aren’t ripped. White converse and solid color neutral shirt. Like a black, white, beige one of those. I’d go for some very minimalistic rings and earrings and that’s it. It’s very chic and it always looks good.
Q. If you had to pick one song that you wrote that means the most to you, which one would it be?
Mishra: I just finished one, it’s coming up so you guys will hear it in two months. But If I had to pick an existing one, it’s the project I had the most fun doing which was Rider with Divine.
Q. Who is your celebrity crush?
Mishra: My celebrity crush has been the same for the past decade. It is always going to be Farhan Aktar. He’s great, he’s smart and is a spokesperson for women’s rights.
Q. Would you like to convey anything to all the single ladies that are currently reading this?
Mishra:Hi, I am and have been one of you for a very long time. Just enjoy this time of self-exploration because it’s necessary before you meet a partner. You should completely know who you are before inviting somebody else’s energy into your space. I think it’s key to understand what your ambitions are, your likes and dislikes, and then only should you open up to dating somebody.