Purna: The One Womxn Machine

CW: Mentions of physical trauma and emotional trauma.

Purna’s multifaceted career came after a series of traumas — both physical and emotional — which shaped how she uses art to transform trauma into healing. If you don’t yet know who Purna is, she is a singer, songwriter, producer, mix engineer (using live instruments), holistic artist developer, neuro-holistic trauma coach, and voice and empowerment coach, among other things!

Her multidimensional talent makes her newest single that came out last month refreshingly unique. Purna’s song “Chemical Romance” was released on January 18th, and I absolutely loved it.

As someone who writes features on different musical artists quite frequently, I experienced feelings of nostalgia and satisfaction after listening to Purna’s new song. It is indie rock with a ‘90s-influenced tune and inspirations ranging from Purna’s favorites. In her words, it is “an alluring concoction of Blondie meets Garbage meets Goo Goo Dolls with the vocal sweetness of Lights and Tegan and Sara.” Similar reviews and descriptions from other musicians, record company founders and vocal coaches which can be found on Purna’s website.

I dove deeper into her personal experiences to find out where the fuel for her creativity comes from. After interviewing Purna and reflecting on the meaning of “Chemical Romance,” I am able to tie some of my favorite lyrics from the song into her lived experiences. For example, the lyrics “I count the number of days it takes for you to make your mistakes” and “I count the number of days it takes for you to slam on the brakes” closely relate to her experiences in one of her intimate relationships.

[Read Related: Artivist Music Essay: Mx. Puja Singh]

Follow me through my in-depth Q&A with Purna as she navigates and narrates some of these formative life experiences.

Would you mind telling me about some of your personal experiences that made you step away from music for a while? 

“I was at a time in my life where my trust had been broken by literally everyone around me; I was leaving a business full of high expectations, many issues within my family that lead to betrayal, and an abusive relationship. I had moved in with my boyfriend at the time. He accidentally dropped a suitcase on my head from about 12 feet above while we were preparing to move, which led to a lot of physical trauma.

I went through medical treatments for several years due to neurological issues, physical misalignment of bones in my head, face, neck and back, developed a debilitating chronic illness and I was completely unable to speak. My throat and tongue [were] in excruciating pain 24/7 — I couldn’t eat or drink water most of the time.”

How did this terrible string of experiences affect your body and mind?

“Being in a psychologically abusive relationship changes the way the brain works, so I had a double brain injury, in a sense. I lost my sense of self and identity completely due to his behaviors. He was violent with himself, experienced cycles of rage and I was extremely fearful around him. I developed PTSD and it took me over four months just to be somewhat functional again and start getting into music again, part-time.” 

Now that you’re fortunately back with music part-time, can you shed some light on the music industry?

“There was a point where I was applying to internships and was getting turned down. The reason these studios gave me was that they just weren’t hiring. My close friend who helped me learn about production asked if he could have the database I had formed, so I was happy to pass it to him and told him what studio managers and owners told me. The place that shot me down before I even finished my sentence hired him within one week, AND he got paid. Other times at gear rental stores, I’d be (and often still am) the only woman in there. Many men either mock me and try to challenge me by asking really specific questions about gear, and their jaws drop when I respond, clearly informed. Another time I had a manager be incredibly condescending with me, yet I heard him be super nice and make an offer to a guy who, like me, was also trying to exchange an item.”

What is it like being a womxn of color working in the music industry through a technical role?

“These are just a few examples of what women like myself face as producers and mix engineers working with live instruments. I’m not surprised that I only personally know one other female producer/mix engineer who also works with live instruments. You need to have a really tough skin and know how to politely (usually) put people in their place and teach them how to treat you with respect. All the tech roles have been credited to women. I produced it, and I had the one female mix engineer I know do the mixing and mastering. She did an amazing job and I already feel like I’ve accomplished something important.”

What should music fans know about how much their favorite artists personally invest into their own creative pursuits? 

“My current single, ‘Chemical Romance,’ is only available in one place right now to stream and purchase — my website. This is because online platforms pay artists pennies through streams and after sales. Artists work really hard, invest a lot of money (especially when, like in my case, they have to hire studio musicians and high-end industry professionals to promote the music). I [have] spent a few thousand dollars on this single so far and there are bigger investments coming. Plus this is on the lowest budget possible to make quality music. Typically it’s much more.

Hence, I don’t stand behind being paid in pennies. That’s a hobby, not a career and I’m not interested in being taken advantage of by the system. Artists need to be direct with their fans and let them know about this if they want to see a change.”

[Read Related: Indo-Canadian Musician Kiran Ahluwalia Releases “Sanata: Stillness”]

Throughout my experience engaging with Purna, she provided so many treasured insights into her lived narrative. She shared stories of the trauma she experienced in her relationships and hopes she will inspire others to have difficult conversations about previously experienced trauma.

Purna speaks transparently on the rampant sexism she experienced, and continues to experience, working in a technical role as a producer and mix engineer with live instruments in the music industry. Lastly, she shares how much time and financial resources artists personally invest into their own creativity. She hopes her efforts in sharing her experiences will foster change against some of these injustices.

By Arun S.

Arun fell in love with music at a young age by way of his middle school music teacher Mr. D. … Read more ›

Deepa Prashad: Meet the Breakout Indo Caribbean Host Conquering Media and Sexism

Deepa Prashad
Deepa Prashad | Photo Credit: Talha Tabish

The expansion of digital content across radio, television and the internet has allowed audiences to engage with media rapidly. As technology advances, the entertainment industry has grown exponentially and people have a wealth of information at their fingertips in the blink of an eye. Since high school, Deepa Prashad was fascinated by this power of media and aspired to be an on-air personality who could interact with viewers through creative content whilst representing her Indo Caribbean heritage. After navigating the competitiveness of Canadian broadcast hosting for seven years, Prashad continues to push herself into various modalities of media and add to her growing successes, while championing others to share their own authentic content.


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A post shared by Deepa Prashad (@deepaprashad1)

[Read Related: Nancy Jay: Meet the Indo Caribbean Influencer Breaking the Mold]

Self-confidence and the desire to show a different perspective on entertainment prompted Prashad to be interested in broadcasting. While initially nervous about her family’s reaction to a nontraditional career path for Indo Caribbean women, Prashad received her parents’ full support and became the first person in her family to study broadcasting at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.

She began applying for television-hosting positions in her first year despite not having any experience or a finished degree, affirming, “I totally believed in myself and my capabilities.” 

In an interview with Prashad, we delve into her career path, diverse representation in media and her courage to create and promote content that reflects her individuality.

How did you begin your career in hosting and digital content production?

The kids channel I watched growing up, The Family Channel, was doing a nationwide casting call for their new TV host. The host would host interstitials between shows, digital series, and do TV show and movie interviews. I didn’t have an agent at the time so I applied on my own. I was called in for my first audition ever and it was quite shocking. A room full of 10 to 15 people just observing me as I delivered lines and did mock interviews for fake shows. Two months later, I was officially cast as the host of The Family Channel!

While ecstatic about her first job, Prashad was met with racism. She stated, 

Someone else, who applied for the position, made it a point to come up to me in person to say that they hoped I knew the only reason I got the job was because I was brown and the company obviously just needed to fill a quota.

Brushing the words aside, she continued hosting on The Family Channel for five years. She has also worked as an entertainment and food reporter on Canadian shows, Breakfast Television and Cityline. By advocating for herself as capable, personable and multifaceted, she did not shy away from new opportunities to advance her career and showcased herself as a leader who could resonate with broad audiences. 


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A post shared by Deepa Prashad (@deepaprashad1)

Wanting to explore new horizons, Prashad approached the social media company blogTO and pitched herself to be their first full-time video host focusing on Toronto food hotspots. After being hired, she visited multiple restaurants daily to host, film and edit her own content and curated personalized food videos for viewers to immerse themselves in. Prashad later forayed into the world of radio, one she never thought she would join but quickly fell in love with. She was most recently the first female voice on Toronto’s KISS 92.5 channels, The Roz and Mocha Show. Prashad enjoyed the greater flexibility of being on the radio compared to television and video hosting,

All I had to present was me. It became such a personal experience for me getting on that mic, sharing stories with listeners about the way I was raised, coming from a Guyanese household, being part of an (interfaiths marriage), [etc…] That created an incredibly strong bond between myself, our listeners and our friends that I’m so grateful for.

Tell us about your current position.

“I’m moving onto new adventures now and adding sports reporting under my belt. I will be joining BarDown | TSN to cover Formula 1, this includes doing content for TSN in the digital and TV space. I’ve never dabbled in the world of sports, so this is going to be an interesting new road for me.”

What topics are you most passionate about when creating digital content and why?

Food has to be my number one passion when it comes to digital content. Obviously I love eating and trying new things, but food is such a universal language. It connects people, it excites people and often teaches people about different cultures. I love to see how that content can generate conversations and I love to see when people admit they’ve never tried that particular food or cuisine, but added it to their list.

I also love creating Formula 1 content because Formula 1 is a massive passion of mine! I currently Twitch stream playing the Formula 1 video game F1 22. I’ve been on a pursuit to continuously learn more about the sport and to even get better at the game, because let’s be real, I’m terrible at it but I’m also OK with that!

Prashad is not immune to online mockery and negative comments about her work. When making the switch to Formula 1, she was ridiculed by some male viewers over her love of the sport and was inundated with comments like “Go back to the dishes” or “Go do laundry where you belong.” Antiquated and sexist notions about being a working woman in the media led to her looks being graded; there were comments regarding her extroverted personality and rampant discussions over her weight. There was a moment in her career where Prashad admits,

I actually wanted to make changes to myself — try to be a little less outgoing, not be so loud, change my hosting style from this incredibly bubbly style to a more laid back informative take.

Drawing on her self-belief, she soon realized that, “This doesn’t work for me. I began to appreciate all my quirks.” 


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A post shared by Deepa Prashad (@deepaprashad1)

Is there an area of hosting or content production that you believe you’re better at? 

I really love to host digital content in particular because there’s a certain freedom that comes with it. I don’t always have to be prim and proper like sometimes I do need to do for TV. I can be me — loud, goofy, and incredibly dorky. I never want to have two different personas — one for the public eye, and then a private. On social media, what you see is exactly what you get. Digital content has allowed me to love myself even more.

Prashad plans to continue in the industry for the foreseeable future. She recognizes the impact of being an Indo Caribbean woman at the forefront of media and defines her success as “…I can continue to represent my culture and how I make others feel.” Her best moments are connecting with others through their lived experiences and offering a different lens on growing up in Canada. 

How did you feel breaking into the industry as a woman of color? 

What a great feeling that was, and even better, being an Indo Caribbean woman. I went through my fair share of hardships. I’ve faced racism, sexism and bullying throughout my journey of getting to where I am today. But, I have stood up for myself every single time. I will never allow myself to be walked all over.  And believe me, people have attempted MANY times. But I pick myself back up and continue along my way. 

I think it really hit me that I was making an impact when I started to hear from people how much they related to my childhood stories, the way I was brought up, the movies I watched as a kid. It’s those moments that made me realize I accomplished my goal.


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A post shared by Deepa Prashad (@deepaprashad1)

How has your background influenced your interest in hosting and digital content production?

I never saw people like me in the media growing up. I always wanted to change that. I didn’t feel that I had anyone I could personally connect with when I watched TV. And to me that was always so mind blowing because the media, although so broad, is such a personal industry. 

I have always been proud to say on air that I’m a Guyanese woman. I have made it a point to fight for more Caribbean content on air. I’ve made it a point to share stories about my family, where they came from, and even the experiences I’ve had growing up in a Guyanese family. Promoting Caribbean culture in general has always been important to me. And progress has been made! At my previous radio job, I pushed incredibly hard to start interviewing Caribbean artists and to highlight them. I had the opportunity to interview artists like Sean Paul, Kes and Konshens and those interviews aired nationally which was massive.


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A post shared by Deepa Prashad (@deepaprashad1)

Prashad often infuses cultural content into her work by showcasing Indian and Caribbean food, offering Bollywood movie recommendations, detailing her trips to Guyana, talking about new music and sharing information about Caribbean events in Toronto. She does not believe that cultural content needs to be pared down for the masses but instead advocates for aspiring Indo Caribbean creators to keep releasing diverse and authentic content that is representative of themselves.

She notes that the Indo Caribbean experience is not a monolith and that,

We need more representation! What feels most authentic to you can be vastly different from other content creators. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way of creating content, but the best version of content you’re going to create is when you’re being true to who you are, and having fun.

At only 27 years old, Prashad’s journey has taken her across multiple forms of media. From interviewing Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities to hosting various television shows and being an online and radio voice, she continues to explore different mediums as a means of storytelling and connection. Hardships were plenty during Prashad’s rise to fame, but a steady belief in herself and a willingness to take on new endeavors with authenticity have provided her the grit to overcome challenges. 

Prashad is eagerly awaiting to leap into her next digital venture and is actively commending more Indo Caribbean content creators to step into the spotlight with their own personal stories.  

By Priya Deonarine

Priya D. Deonarine, M.S, NCSP, is the quintessential Pisces who has been dramatically shaped by her experiences and emotions. She … Read more ›