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Dubai, United Arab Emirates | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Dubai, United Arab Emirates | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Solo Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Champion of broken hearts"

Gayathri’s honeyed voice is heralded by ominous celesta chimes and
anchors the off-kilter orchestral textures that duck and dive through
this beautifully crafted tale of love and loss. “Champion of Broken
Hearts” has the blurred clarity of St. Vincent but with a soul heart. - Rolling Stone Magazine Middle East

"Gaya's Debut album - The Unknown - Review"

Singer-songwriter impresses on open, intimate debut

Gayathri’s first LP is a bravely raw affair; it’s reportage from the heart and mostly about love – whether celebratory or rueful. The often sparse, but always inventive, instrumentation complements her assured, intimate vocals well, and there are some engaging, left-field choices – particularly on standout track “Champion of Broken Hearts” and the a capella “Our Lullaby” – that elevate the songs. The risk Gaya has taken in being this emotionally open has paid off, resulting in a promising debut. - Rolling Stone Magazine ME


a' marks a welcome return from a singer-songwriter with one of the best voices in the Middle East. Gayathri Krishnan (now going by Gaya, since “it’s easier; so many people butchered Gayathri”) is back with a brief (just three tracks) EP that’s a great snapshot of her artistry – accessible without being dumb or generic, weird without being forced, sweet but not nauseating. Much credit is due to producer (and Gaya’s husband) Reiner Erlings for capturing exactly the right atmosphere to accompany the songs.

Closing track “Boys Who Cried Love” is similar in feel to her 2013 LP, The Unknown – layers of vocals with sparse instrumentation that suck you into a dreamy atmosphere, offset by discordant harmonies that don’t allow the listener to get too comfortable. Opener “Fake It Till You Make It” is an upbeat pop track led by piano stabs and an earworm of a vocal hook – but with lyrics that are more bittersweet than the music suggests (“Those tearstains on your pillow/Are the marks of a champion”). There’s no excuse for this track not getting radio play in the UAE (at least) – beyond the staggering lack of imagination or support for local artists offered by mainstream radio in the Middle East in general. “Marble Moon” falls somewhere between the other two tracks – an evocative, yearning slow-burner steeped in Americana (slide guitar, and a vibe that would suit any number of US TV shows) with slightly sinister harmonies that builds to an enormous crescendo. The star of the show throughout is Gaya’s voice, but the best thing about this self-titled EP is that it sees her pushing herself – as both a vocalist and a songwriter – beyond her comfort zone. That’s a risk that many such talented singers aren’t always willing to take, as it’s relatively simple for them to sound impressive without really trying. But it’s a risk that’s paid off in spades on this record – the small (and very rare) imperfections just adding to the emotional connection on a heartfelt collection of tracks. The only complaint? It’s too short. - TripleW ME

"COBH Review"

Dubai-based singer/songwriter Gayathri has recently released her single 'Champion of Broken Hearts'. Read below for’s review of Gayathri’s new single.

It’s clear to us upon listening to Gayathri’s new single is that the singer/songwriter has got an impressive set of lungs which she is very comfortable with showcasing. Her dynamic approach to both songwriting and performing is very interesting, given the fact that a song like 'Champion of Broken Hearts' is a blend of many elements – from quirky pop and indie sensibilities to theatrical aesthetics. In this case, being adaptable and in-control means that Gayathri doesn’t ever cross the line to ‘trying too hard’.

'Champion of Broken Hearts' makes for a good introduction to the singer/songwriter, as it showcases not only her vocals and songwriting abilities, but a versatility and polish which speak for a bright creative vision.

On the flip side, 'Cocoon' (the single’s b-side) shows an entirely different side of Gayathri. The song is the epitome of vulnerability, but still manages to offer something interesting; infusing Indian music aesthetics and low-key, almost whisper-like vocals (a la Bjork).

Enclosed in top-notch production and an amazing attention to detail, Gayathri’s new tracks are a great way to build up a fan base for her upcoming full-length album. - TripleW ME

"How to ‘Fake It Till You Make It’ in the music industry"

Crowdfunding her debut album, collaborating with Chloe and Uber through social media and building an 18-foot anatomical heart with Dubai-based artists is how social songstress Gaya spread the love to a growing international fan base. Her latest single Fake it till you Make It reveals how empowering a millennial business nous can be

Iain Akerman October 2016
Gaya's career spans everything from musician, to video maker and TEDx speaker
To become one of the most successful unsigned artists in the world, singer-songwriter Gaya aims at subverting the traditional route taken by musicians and forged her own path.

“What I realized on my recent trip to New York is that I don’t need a record deal,” she says. “What I’ve done is try to empower myself in as many ways as possible, to make that money myself, to put it into my music, align with brands that understand my journey and what I want to do, and have complete creative control and a vision for myself.”

Confident, sharp, and fiercely independent, Gaya supports her vibrant music with her films, an interior design shop, and other self-made artistic projects. Whilst certainly bold, her apathy for a commercial record deal is not unheard of. She joins the likes of Lebanese superstars Mashrou’ Leila, who gained worldwide exposure despite having never signed a contract. Even Palestinian futuristic dabke group 47SOUL crowdfunded their first album, Shamstep, which shot them into a global spotlight.

Like Gaya, these independent artists are set on reinventing the role of the modern musician, gaining a global fan base entirely on their own.

“The goal is to really break onto the international scene, whether that’s in the States or whether that’s Europe,” says Gaya, “to have as many people in the world hear the music and understand the world that I’m trying to create.”

That will be no easy task, but the intense three-month experience of recording her upcoming album is the kind of challenge she thrives on.

“Once you decide to do something there’s really no point fixating on how difficult it will be, because you’ve obviously considered it and decided that you want to do it anyway. What I realized over time is it’s really about connecting with people and building on that, whether in terms of creativity and putting out work that people can connect with, or in terms of the business end of things.

What I’ve done is try to empower myself in as many ways as possible, to make that money myself, to put it into my music
“But I feel good about what I’m working on and I feel so good about the people that I’ve worked with, and how much hard work and love has gone into it, that, for me I already feel a great sense of satisfaction. The process is what makes me happy.”

It was in New York where Gaya shot the soon-to-be-released music video for Fake it Till you Make It, the first song from her eponymously-named three-track EP released digitally via Bandcamp in June last year. The new video follows relatively quickly on the heels of another for Boys Who Cried Love – also off the same EP – but Gaya’s attention is now turning towards the writing and producing of her second album.

Born in Chennai, Gaya’s music is often deeply personal, with Fake it Till you Make It a letter to her 15-year-old self. She also draws closely on personal experience and on the experiences of those she describes as having a certain kinship with.

A recent visit to New York has informed much of Gaya's music
“I do think that I have a style of writing, and that remains the same, but the things around it will change,” says Gaya of her upcoming album. “One of the things that I do is draw from my Indian influences, but not in a way that I feel is slapped on. It has to be essential to telling the story. It cannot be just a gimmick. And I really want to explore that side and bring that to life in a way that people have never heard before.

“My plan is to go back to the south of India where I was born and lived for the first seven years of my life and sample a lot of the traditional instruments that I grew up listening to, work with native choirs and orchestras, and then bring that back to the studio, go to New York, and transform those traditional elements into something very modern and contemporary that is accessible to all, even though it has a sense of otherworldliness. I want to really challenge myself to write things that marry all my influences and create something new and exciting. That’s what I’m working towards.”

The recording process will be an international affair, taking Gaya from Dubai to India and on to New York, where it is hoped the album (her second after 2013’s The Unknown) will be finalised early next year. “I want it to be a process of discovery, because that’s the whole point of creativity.” - Vision Magazine

"Gaya is well on her way to success"

The 29-year-old Dubai-based Gaya, singer, songwriter, lover of cats and all things vintage, was born in a southern Indian home to Carnatic music aficionados. Her childhood – a masterclass in music appreciation – made her career in the arts a “glorious inevitability”, but that’s the only certainty she’s ever had.

Gaya’s debut album The Unknown confronts the notion that creativity serves a larger, mysterious purpose, often making it an excruciatingly abstract process. As she struggled to raise money to release her music, she realised that there was no one way to succeed. The artist eventually crowd-funded her anthology, one of the first to have done so in the Middle East, raising more than US$23,000 (Dh84,500) in 10 days through the American website Indiegogo.

On June 11, Gaya will perform a launch concert in Vox Cinema 12 at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.

“The core idea is to really push the theme of embracing the unknown. Dubai offers a plethora of clubs to perform in, but there is a severe dearth of venues specifically created for the singer/songwriter with an alternative sound. The acoustics in the theatre are ideal for an intimate setting of 300 people,” says Gaya.

The space also lends itself to showcasing her new music video for the song Our Lil’ Thing. As well as the technical advantages, taking an everyday space, such as a movie theatre, and putting it in a novel context appeals to the artist, who wants to give the UAE an unprecedented sonic and visual ­experience.

Gaya believes that financial resources need to be more readily available for people in the arts in the UAE. Crowd-funding, she says, is a powerful tool for independent artists to not only solve their monetary problems but also engage with their followers.

With pop-star culture and the gap between musicians and audience growing ever wider, this digital phenomenon allows for a genuine interaction between artists and listeners.

Produced by Gaya’s husband, Reiner Erlings, The Unknown has 12 self-written and composed tracks and features the local musicians Hamdan Al Abri and Haruka Horii. After the soft release of the album in March 2013 online, Rolling Stone magazine gave it one the highest rankings of any unsigned artist in the Middle East, calling it “a bravely raw affair; it’s reportage from the heart and mostly about love – whether celebratory or ­rueful”.

Krishnan says she has been inspired by women vocalists such as Joni Mitchell, Alanis Morissette and Björk since she started writing songs at 17. The young musician recently jammed with the Grammy-award-winner Joss Stone during her Total World Tour stopover in Dubai. Stone, who is currently collaborating with local artists as she travels the globe, is documenting the series, which will be broadcast by the BBC, in the hope of educating viewers on various global, musical cultures.

“Joss asked that I take her to a place that was quintessentially Dubai and yet very personal. Where better than the middle of the desert in the city that I call home? I took her to an isolated spot in Nad Al Sheba. We could see the skyline but sit in perfect silence. Once we started jamming, it became one of those magical moments where we really connected with one another.” Footage is available on Gaya's youtube channel,

In late June, Gaya will embark on her first (self-funded) tour of the United States. While her dates aren’t confirmed, she’s scheduled to play in New York City, Boston, San Diego and Los Angeles. - The National


1. Fake it Till You Make It
2. Marble Moon
3. The Boys Who Cried Love

1. Champion of Broken Hearts
2. Bed & Blanket
3. Our Little Thing
4. The Unknown
5. Greatest Love Story
6. Our Lullaby
7. The Elopement
8. 17 Moles
9. Pieces of me
10. Donne's Love Note
11. Chotti Baatein
12. Cocoon

1. Sinking Superhero2. Bombay
3. Grandfather Clock
4. Disengage
5. Anbe



One of the highest rated unsigned artists to date by RollingStone ME, Dubai-raised & based Independent singer-songwriter Gaya makes anthemic, vocal-driven, highly eclectic and deeply personal music. With a growing fan base, her debut album ‘The Unknown’ was the result of a highly successful crowdfunding campaign raising over $23,000 in ten days through a first of its kind campaign in the region.

Gaya spent the last year touring the States & Asia, performing at legendary spaces like Joe’s Pub New York, Sidewalk Café NYC & BlueFrog Mumbai; worked on a collaboration with Grammy-winner Joss Stone and became a TEDx speaker & performer. In 2015, she went back into the studio to co-produce a new eponymous 3-track EP, released independently in June and performed at Dubai Music Week, Global Women in Leadership Forum & Formula 1 opening for renowned artist Florence & The Machine. She collaborates regularly with brands like Chloe, Uber, Gap, Mini Cooper & is an ambassador for Sennheiser microphones & Red Bull Music. She recently released a music video for her song ‘The Boys Who Cried Love’, a result of a massive collaboration with artists from Dubai, where they built an 18-foot anatomical heart out of cardboard among other set pieces, documenting the entire process in a series titled ‘#Collaboflove’. Gaya worked with New York-based director Sachi Machlachan and renowned DOP Shane Sigler to shoot a music video for her single 'Fake it till you Make it' in August 2016, to be released soon.  

Band Members