Vithusayni Paramanathan is the first Tamil Canadian Singer to be featured on an AR Rahman film score, after singing the song Maathare. She is trained in Carnatic, Hindustani, and Western Vocals from AR Rahman’s KM Conservatory. She is the Co-Founder of Isai Empire Inc, a Toronto based production company; their most recent concert was D Imman Live in Toronto. As an Independent Artist, Vithusayni has released many Tamil and English original songs. She has even won the Best Debut Playback Singer at the Edison Awards 2020 in Chennai, India. Aside from Music, Vithusayni is a recent Criminology graduate from Western University. She continues to pursue her career and passion for music side by side.
You were the first Tamil Canadian singer to be featured on an AR Rahman film score. Tell us more about that experience?
Honestly, there are some things that you don't even dream about in your wildest dreams - this was one of those things. Not only was I able to debut into the Tamil playback scene on an AR Rahman film score, but this was also an Atlee-directed movie starring Ilayapathy Vijay and Nayanthara. This was no simple step into the industry, this was a huge project. Recording at AR Rahman's studio felt so surreal - everyone was so professional yet so welcoming and encouraging all at the same time. AR Rahman sir himself, lyricist Vivek, the sound engineers, all made sure I was comfortable and confident enough to deliver to their expectations.
In addition to managing school (Criminology graduate from Western University), you’ve been running Isai Empire. Tell us what your company does. How did you come up with the name?
Isai Empire was a passion project that stemmed from performing in Toronto for many years. I had been performing as a local talent alongside International artists since I was a kid but always felt like there was no opportunity to really let local talent shine on a grand stage, that's exactly what I wanted to create. Our first project was in 2016, Toronto Tamil Artists Night - a show dedicated to featuring 100+ singers, dancers, musicians, and even emcees on one stage together. Isai Empire became a production company focusing on creating quality artistic events featuring Canadian and International artists. We strive to promote, encourage, and motivate Canadian talents by providing them with grand platforms.
The name; Isai means music in Tamil. We are dedicated to uniting Canadian and International artists as one group with the aim of making each one brighter and a bit more magical - and that's how Isai Empire came to be! We recently even collaborated with D Imman Sir to host D Imman Live in Toronto with 25+ musicians from Chennai and 100+ artists from Canada.
What has been the impact of social media on both your entrepreneurial and singing careers respectively?
To be quite frank, social media wasn't as big as it is now when I started singing. A lot of my early music career consisting of performing at live shows every weekend - that's how people came to know who I was and what Isai Empire was too. Of course, now everyone including myself has been leveraging the power of social media to expand our reach, but I definitely think most of the success of my entrepreneurial and singing careers came from real-life experiences.
What path are you going to focus more of your time on, your business, your singing or a career leveraging your Criminology degree? And why?
For at least the last 10 years now, I have been managing school, music, business, extracurriculars altogether, and I plan on continuing with this for as long as I can. I think when you are equally passionate about multiple things, you figure out a way to balance it all. As much as I love music, I still love what I studied and I have goals that I want to accomplish there too. I don't see myself ever leaving my career to solely focus only on music, but also never plan on dropping my musical career either. So we'll see how long I can pull this off for!
How have your family and friends supported you through your journey? Did you have any doubters?
I have been blessed with family and friends who have been nothing but supportive and encouraging throughout my entire journey. In a world where parents tell their kids to focus only on studies, my parents have always pushed me to work on my music too. I always say that my parents are more interested in my singing than I am! However, my sister probably works harder than me to make sure that my music career grows. Whether it is co-founding Isai Empire or connecting me with various opportunities, she's always the first one to make sure my voice is heard.
Of course, there are people who doubt my talent and I, but I have way too many people that have my back to care about the ones who do not!
Do you have any mentors that have helped you in the progression of your career? If not, who would be somebody that you would want as a mentor now?
I take inspiration from so many people - my parents, my sister, my family, my friends, my trainers, my fellow musicians. I think they have all played a part in progressing my career and can definitely say that they have all mentored me in some way. But the greatest mentor of all is AR Rahman sir himself - he doesn't speak much to me but when he does, he always has something insightful to say. In 2019 when I met him a few weeks before recording for Bigil, he told me "Your scope of the world is what you create inside *points to his head*". That is still a quote I think back to every day.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?
In 3-5 years, I don't see myself being too far off from where I am right now. I hope that I'm still working on my professional career while also balancing music too. I think by then I would've released a few more of my own independent songs while also singing for more movies in Chennai too.
In terms of your personal legacy, in a few sentences, describe how you want to be remembered by your family and friends?
I always want to be remembered as a hard worker, it's something that I've always strived to do. Someone who works tirelessly to achieve their goals regardless of their outcome, and I hope that mentality inspires those around me to never give on their dreams.
What is a failure you’ve experienced in the last 5-10 years that you’ve learned the most from?
I don't like to think of my experiences as failures, just like I don't like to have any regrets. I have definitely had instances where the outcome is not what I originally planned, but I either learn from them or understand that opportunity just wasn't meant for me.
What do you think you would tell 16-year Vithu looking back?
I would definitely tell 16-year old Vithu to keep her head high and chase every dream she thinks of - because if she can dream it, she can do it.
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What is a new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life?
Be you, for you - people are bound to say something no matter what you do, so you might as well do what you want to.
If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?
There are so many kids around the world who have a love and passion for the arts but don't have the means to pursue it - that would definitely be where I would want to allocate the money towards.
How would you describe the impact that the Canadian Tamil community had on you both personally and professionally?
The Tamil community has warmly accepted me as their own kid, from every clap in the audience to every kind comment on my posts. I am forever indebted to them for pushing me and inspiring me to become the singer and woman that I am today
What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?
MUTTON. KOTHU. ROTI.
What is your favourite Tamil movie?
Only the greatest Tamil movie of all time, Padayappa.
What does Tamil culture mean to you?
Tamil culture to me means being a part of a community, a community built on passion, determination, resilience, and the list goes on. A community that never fails to continue rising, even after the toughest of storms. I am constantly inspired by their dedication to succeeding and I know there is much the community can do if they put their minds to it.
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