Making a mark in the world of music is not simple or easy. Indian-British Singer, Riya, shares her journey with us, and highlights her favorite aspect of being a professional singer.
Riya started singing at a young age, and credits her parents for always encouraging her to sing. She says she first started to think about singing as a career in college.
“That’s when I took the time out to write and learn how to produce my own music and I was always rehearsing and practicing because I did a diploma in classical singing in opera and theater.”
Her first single that was released, “Look My Way”, was incredibly well-received, and has over 451 thousand views on Youtube. For Riya, this bolstered her confidence that this was the career path for her.
As an individual interest, Riya says that there are almost always moments of self-doubt, but she holds confidence in her singing and her talent.
“As an independent artist, you always have those moments of you need to push through, am I doing it well? But I was always very confident in my singing and my writing.”
Before every release, Riya says that she feels a mixture of emotions, ranging from nerves to instilling confidence in herself that her hardwork will pay off. As a live singer, Riya explains how much preparation goes into each and every performance.
“Because I spend a long time up until that process to make sure that I don’t have self-doubt, I won’t do a performance unless I’m 100% prepared.”
Riya’s music is predominantly pop, but she says that she tries to bring in any cultural influences around her into her music.
“You’ll always hear elements of tabla percussion or just something quirky because that’s what is authentic to me and I feel most confident when I am wearing my jhumkas and bangles.”
As a South Asian – British singer, Riya hopes to be a positive influence for younger generations of South Asian singers, who are hopeful that they can fulfill their dreams. She details a fan encounter at one of her live performances where a young South Asian girl told Riya that she wanted to become a singer because she had “seen her do it.”
“I was performing and a little girl came up to me and she literally verbatim said ‘I want to be a singer because I’ve seen you doing it’, and that really hit because I was like ‘well, mission accomplished’! That was one of those moments where I was like oh wow.”
Riya explains that the live industry helps her connect with her audience not only when she’s performing, but when she sees other artists perform as well.
Even though her performances are live, Riya strikes a balance between rehearsing potential spaces for audience interaction, and feeding off their energy organically.
“There’s no formula or anything, I just make sure that I’m well prepared and that I have an idea of how to engage the audience. I’m very picky with pitch, and I should feel like I’m fully prepared to sing, and that’s where the preparation comes. If I see that an audience is super engaged, then I can play with that, and that comes very off the cuff.”
Riya considers herself to be a perfectionist, and says that is her biggest strength and her biggest weakness.
“Every perfectionist knows that it can be super crippling if you don’t let things go and that’s something I’ve learnt.”
The music industry is always adapting, and Riya explains that for herself, she feels like she’s always learning every time she releases a new song, or does another performance. She’s also incredibly hands on when it comes to her music: even her music videos are fully edited by her.
“Everything is pretty much hands on, I like that part of the creativity process.”
The BBC Introducing Artist explains that she has always been “influenced by old, opulent, visuals with jhumkas and beautiful bold jewelry.” Her music video ‘Permission’ was shot in different locations around Delhi.
What is next? Riya is releasing a new music video for her next single “Don’t Have the Time”, which she describes as a “super sassy number” about protecting one’s energy.
Her following single will be “Eye For an Eye Makes The Whole World Blind”, which plays on the popular catch phrase. Riya hopes that all of her upcoming songs and lineup of performances help show her story to audiences.