TikTok’s Avneesha Is Setting Her Sights on Australia’s Punjabi Music Scene
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If you’ve spent any time on TikTok, you’ve probably come across one of Avneesha’s videos. Her combination of heartfelt acoustic performances, musicals, and comedy skits has made her one of Australia’s most popular creators. With more than 1.6 million TikTok followers, it’s not hard to see why her videos resonate with so many.
When Avneesha hops into a video call to chat with me about the impressive career she’s built through TikTok over the past two and a half years, the first thing that strikes me is that she’s incredibly warm. Over the next half hour, we laugh nonstop as she tells me about her recent hosting gig at the TikTok ‘For You Fest’ alongside comedy duo, The Inspired Unemployed, and Nazeem Hussain, as well as her music career. And, of course, it wouldn’t be an interview with a TikTok creator without asking for a few tips for how to make it big on the entertainment platform.
Avneesha is a true artist. Having cut her teeth in acting, she’s since embraced the TikTok creator life and encapsulates everything that comes along with it. When I ask her whether she sees herself as a musician or a comedian, or something in between, she admits that she loves that she doesn’t have to choose.
“I definitely see myself as an artist first, but that is also a broad umbrella now,” Avneesha tells POPSUGAR Australia. She explains that while she once saw herself as an actress first-and-foremost, joining TikTok has helped her to realise she doesn’t have to be just one thing. “I feel grateful that I don’t have to choose. . . Like, if someone who listens to my music then went online and saw me running around in a moustache, I mean, look, I would have questions too. But we’re all a little weird, you know.”
I ask whether she was nervous to post these different sides of her personality online, and she admits that, like all good partners, her husband was supportive while also keeping her humble.
“My husband pushed me a lot to put out videos that I really wanted to and he was like, ‘you are so weird — just put it out there’,” she says. “But I was so nervous. I was my own biggest critic, and I don’t think that ever goes away, but it definitely gets easier once you keep putting up videos, and as long as I like it, I’m happy to put it out. Whatever people say, whatever happens, as long as I’m really proud of the video, [it’s okay].”
I push Avneesha on whether it gets more or less nerve-wracking to create videos for a growing audience (she’s gained 200K followers in the past two weeks alone) and step outside of the niche she’s created for herself. She explains that while she suspects she may feel pressure in the future as the community continues to grow, right now, it feels more like a big party.
Of course, that’s not everyone’s experience with social media. It was reported in 2019 that 54% of Americans between 13 and 38 years old would become an influencer if they could, and we can only assume that figure has increased since TikTok really blew up in 2020. But is it possible for everyone to grow to this level on TikTok?
While Avneesha explains that the old adage of authenticity and consistency is key to growing an audience (for context, she posted a video every single day for two years), she also admits there’s more to it than that — and yes, the process of finding what works can be disheartening.
“To be completely honest, I do a lot of acting videos and people tend to gravitate towards those, which is super cool. I’m so grateful people love that, but I also love making music and writing — but that’s going to take some time,” she says, adding that just because people gravitate to one specific thing, it doesn’t make the other content she creates is bad. She explains that she’s always trying new approaches, to see what works.
“I was posting certain kinds of videos with my music and it didn’t do too well, so I had to try some new ways. It’s an iterative process, where you keep trying different things and eventually you’ll find something that people really like. [That’s why] I started a series where I asked people to title my songs for me, and it was a really engaging way for people to [get involved], and the engagement completely shifted.”
Many creators of Avneesha’s calibre can point to one video that went viral and made them realise they could make a career out of TikTok. “The first video that went viral was me doing a lot of sketches as my parents,” she laughs. “They’re not actually my parents — it was an exaggeration of my parents, and I always feel so bad. Mum’s like, ‘that’s not me!’ but my dad loves it. He’ll be like, ‘why haven’t you posted me? It’s been like three days, where’s my character gone?’, and I tell him to chill.”
Avneesha explains that the video of her faux parents going viral really opened her eyes to what was possible on the platform and the types of videos she could post. “I was shocked,” she says. “I started testing the waters and doing different types of sketches that weren’t me as my parents, and I introduced different characters. Some did really well, some didn’t, but there was definitely an audience building from that kind of video.”
Over the past year alone, we’ve seen TikTok creators become bonafide stars. In the US, Addison Rae starred in the Netflix revival, He’s All That, while Olivia Rodrigo received six Grammy nominations just last week. Closer to home, Millie Ford announced that she’s landed a role in the second season of Stan’s hit Aussie series, Bump, on the same day she was named the first Australian Creator of the Year at the TikTok ‘For You Fest’ in Sydney. The sky’s the limit for TikTok creators, who’ve hopped into the game at a time where many Instagram creators are still elbowing their way towards legitimacy in the eyes of the entertainment industry.
For Avneesha, it presents an exciting opportunity for her music career. To date, she’s focused on the alternative RnB genre (you can listen to her music on Spotify, and you absolutely should) but somewhat nervously tells me that she’s been quietly working on producing her own Punjabi music behind the scenes for some time.
“What I haven’t told anyone, is that I’ve wanted to start doing Punjabi music — that’s my background — so I’m working to get my first track out,” Avneesha says. “And it makes my mum so happy, which is really cool. There’s a big scene in Australia, in the UK, and the United States, so I’m really excited to start putting that music out. It’s been a big learning process, but so much fun. I’m so happy that I finally decided to do it.”