The Imaginarium of Noush Like Sploosh

Her debut album is soon to be released. But there's a lot more to Anushka Anand than just music

Noush Like Sploosh
Priyanka Vohra-Anand
By Matt Ross
Feb 04, 2014

IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO HAVE A SHORT CONVERSATION with Anushka Anand. “I have a tendency to really ramble,” says the 29-year-old musician, filmmaker, artist, animator, editor, illustrator and half-a-dozen other things, as she pulls up a chair in a Dubai coffee shop, “so just tell me to shut up if I’m going on for too long.” You’d be a fool to do so, however. One of the things you soon realize about Anand (known to pretty much everyone that has met her as Noush Like Sploosh) is that she talks in glorious Technicolor. Noush’s “ramblings” are much like the lyrics from her upcoming debut album Whimcycle; much like the drawings in the sketchbook thrust under her arm when she arrives; much like the way she describes her creative process; much like the detail with which she recounts tales of her childhood – intricate, lovingly crafted stories that embrace tangents and paint vivid mental pictures of whatever it is she’s trying to describe. At one point, for example, she compares collaborating with Whimcycle producer Joshua Williams to “a really fun game of tennis. I don’t play tennis, but I imagine it to be a lot like that. And you’re just hitting the ball back and forth. And back and forth. And the ball is painting these amazing colors through the air.” Over the next few hours, Noush also compares creative collaboration to sex, equates her physiological desire to record an album with needing to “take a poo,” and hypothesizes that human beings could survive quite happily on catfood and steak, so long as they did it together and had the right attitude. In short, Noush is a lot of fun to talk to. And that’s partly due to the fact that she’s eloquent, self-effacing and, on occasion, hilariously sarcastic. But it’s also thanks to an overriding passion that permeates discussions of her work. It’s so obviously coming from a place of unbridled joy and enthusiasm that it’s very hard not to get swept up.

NOUSH WAS BORN IN MUMBAI, though her family – who trace their origins back to the Sindh region of what is now Pakistan – were already living in Dubai. Noush was brought back to the U.A.E. when she was just six weeks old, where her dad was a prominent figure in the country’s nascent film distribution industry (Mr. Anand co-founded Grand Cinemas). She was, Noush admits, a studious kid, terrified of getting into trouble – there were just two occasions during her education where she got into serious hot water: when she was 12, she traded a porno centerfold she’d stolen from her brother for the chance to borrow a copy of No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom, and when she was 18, she skipped sports day to stay at home and concentrate on her art coursework. “From very early on, I wanted to be a musician. I wanted to be a drummer, and also a singer. But mainly a drummer. Very much.” She enjoyed writing, French, and art. But she had begun to take umbrage with the notion of being an artist, despite the fact that her skill at drawing was often commented on. “I was very clear that I didn’t want to be an artist,” she says. “Because I knew about Van Gogh, and he was miserable, and that didn’t seem like fun. For me, an artist was someone who paints. But that was what I was good at.”

Thanks to some pretty impressive foresight from her mother, who applied for Canadian citizenship for her children before they hit their teens, Noush spent ninth grade in Canada, where she finally got to learn the drums – an experience that gave her “a basic level of coordination that helped demystify a lot of other instruments.” She returned to Dubai after a year, and developed a love for acting, saying as much to her guidance counselor. “She asked if I could sing, and I said ‘No.’ And she asked if I could dance, and I said, ‘No.’ And she said it might be tricky,” Noush says. “She asked if I had thought about farming, or fishing, or something f***ing random like that. That woman should not have been allowed to talk to children.”

She still harbored ambitions of becoming an actor, but also kept doing what she was good at, “which was drawing and painting. And when I moved to Montreal [to study at Concordia University], I just kept doing it.” After a year of not enjoying studying studio art, Noush switched to theater design and animation. When she graduated, she worked doing lighting and costume design in a theater, and made short, animated films. Though she had offers to do an MA in the U.S. – “Part of me wishes I’d done that, and part of me is glad that I didn’t” – Noush instead opted to move to Mumbai, where her cousin was beginning production on her second feature film. She offered Noush a position as assistant producer. “Most of the time I didn’t know what the f*** I was doing,” she admits. “But I was like, ‘Yeah, sure. Cool.’ I didn’t sleep for the first three weeks of the shoot. I was in completely over my head.” She spent three years in India before, in 2010, returning to Dubai. “I wasn’t actually planning to come back,” Noush says. “I came back after a really, really messy breakup, mind-f***ed as nobody’s business, because my family was here. I had quit my job, and [Mumbai] is a difficult city to be a freelancer, and I didn’t know what the f*** I was doing.” Plus, she adds, “I wanted to make this album. I’d been working on a project with my music teacher in India, and he had had to leave for a couple of months due to visa problems, so the work we were doing was going on indefinite hiatus. I thought, ‘Why don’t I use this time to come to Dubai, work on the album that I want to make, and by then he’ll be done with his visa bullshit.’ And I only just finished the album a month ago… So there you go.”


This is an extract. To read the full story, pick up a copy of Rolling Stone Middle East

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