A marketing executive residing in Bangalore, June Neelu from Manipur began singing when she was young. Her musical career began (on a serious note) after she started uploading covers on YouTube. Today she has written and composed many originals in Manipuri. She may be a full-time tech professional, but she continues to perform in gigs and events – making a name for herself and gathering a great fan-following. Read our full interview with June Neelu to know about her music journey and more.
We had a chat with June Neelu, a software engineer by profession and musician at heart. She talks about her passion to sing since her young age, her inspiration, her upcoming project, and more.
Hello June, good to have you here! Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hello! I’m June Neelu from Imphal, Manipur. By profession, I’m a software engineer turned marketing executive but singing has always been my passion and I have been singing ever since I was young. I’m the youngest and the only daughter of three siblings. I was quite a shy girl and would only sing to myself. Except for my family and few close friends, no one knew I could sing until my cover songs and originals came out.
Introduce us to your work. What got you started?
I started off by uploading simple home-recorded cover videos of some songs, first was a cover of ‘Lucky’ by Jason Mraz & Colbie Cailat uploaded in 2010. With the immense response that I got over time, I went on with my originals – some of which have been aired on MTV Roots, VH1, 9X0, etc. I feel I’m truly blessed to have interactive fans and well-wishers, who always add a zing to my drive.
After a couple of cover songs on my YouTube channel, other musicians and artists began approaching me for collaborations. I have also done national TVCs, recently sang for a Manipuri movie “Enakta Leiringei” which won the best state film award a couple of months back. Right now, I’m working on my new single and a couple of other collaborations and touring Imphal city with unplugged sessions. Planning to tour North-East India soon!
June Neelu at the Acoustic gig night at a cafe in her hometown – Imphal, Manipur
June Neelu at one of her performances with the band
What initially sparked your interest in this field?
I embraced music when I was very young and as quoted earlier “I have been singing ever since I knew myself”. The response that I got from the public after uploading a couple of cover songs was immense and heartwarming. I got invited to gigs and for collaborations, not just from Manipur but also from other states across the country. This inspired me to sing my heart out.
How have your roots and upbringing influenced your working style?
Everyone in my family is a music lover. My granddad was a research scholar, he wrote books on music, dance forms of Manipur, translated various other books from Sanskrit to English, and was a Padmashree Awardee.
My family knew about my interest in music and dance when I was very young but I was led more into academics, and it somehow made me believe that “Oh singing is just a passion”, and I didn’t dream about performing at all someday.
After finishing my grad and post-grad, I started working and tried recording and uploading cover songs requested by people. Work again occupied me and I couldn’t give much time to music, but I never left the scene!
What do you do full-time? And how do you manage to indulge in your hobby?
I’m a software engineer; did my MBA in Marketing & since then I have been working as a marketing executive. Coming from a career-oriented family, I couldn’t do music full time (again many factors here, like earning from music). I have got calls from a couple of reality TV shows in the country, inviting me to join the competitions by giving golden tickets; no auditions! But maintaining this balance is not easy and sometimes I can’t respond to the hundreds of song requests that I get. I have missed many big gigs as well because of the same reason. This makes me unhappy sometimes.
What’s your work philosophy and where do you take inspiration from?
I never learned the basics of music but always made it a point to sing from my heart and give my best shot. It’s been a learning story for me — I believe I’m still learning. My inspiration comes from simple things like a light moment with family & friends, what surrounds me, my life, and definitely the endless artists that inspire me, always.
June performing at an acoustic gig night at Imphal, Manipur
June Neelu performing with the band
What do you hope people take away from your Music?
Interaction is a special bond that I always share with my audience, be it a crowd of hundreds or a small in-house session of 30-40 people. Originality, honesty, believing in yourself, and “MUSIC” is what I believe I share with people.
Tell us about your upcoming project.
I’m working on my new single and also collaborating on a mixtape with Hip-Hop Queen of India – Hard Kaur, including various artists from across the country. Looking forward to this one!
Lastly, do leave a message for the young aspiring musicians.
Remember nobody’s perfect and believing in yourself will always be your biggest strength. Be honest, sing your heart out and spread music. It’s the only language everyone speaks!
To know more about June Neelu, follow her on Instagram! Here’s Korou – June Neelu Ft B Maisnam. Korou means ‘Sunlight’ in Manipuri. The song is about how she is mesmerized by the beauty of nature around her…the sunrise, dews, birds, wind, the mountains ..how they calm the mind and soul.
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