Urban Asian go the chance to sit down with artist on the rise, Rishi Parmar to talk about his music, his past, his family and his debut album! Check it out!
UA: First question to ask any artist, how did you end up with a music career! Was it a childhood love, or did it come later in life?
Rishi: First off, I want to start off by saying this is not my career but more of a passion that helps me get through the daily stresses of life and a way to express myself in an artistic form. Music has always been a big part of my life even while growing up. I started off by playing the piano at a young age, played clarinet in the Middle School band (oh those were the days), and as an early teen picked up the guitar after my Dad. My Dad played while he was growing up so it was always something I wanted to do so I could follow in his foot steps. Guitar was the first instrument that I actually really enjoyed whereas piano and clarinet I guess I just did for the sake of it.
However, even with guitar which I did play for a few years and also in a few bands here and there was not really fulfilling my artistic passion. I always had been a big fan of hip hop more so in the late 90’s and early 00’s but never gave it a chance. When I got to college as I was slowly fading away from guitar playing I became more into rap and begin writing and reciting my rhymes a bit here and there. I think junior year is when a bunch of my friends and I would come back to the dorms after long nights of drinking and just freestyle until the early morning hours. I noticed I was able to keep a decent flow to the beat so I decided to get into recording and realized this is what I’ve always wanted/needed in music. From there on in the rest became history.
UA: You’ve been working behind the scenes and with other artists for a few years now so what made you take the leap to release a solo album?
Rishi: Well to be honest, if it wasn’t for my close friend, fellow artist, and producer of my whole album, David “Shadowless” Kennedy this project probably would never have been done. At first, I didn’t want to put in all the effort in on working on a solo project, since I had never really done a full project like this before let alone a few mixtapes here and there but nothing over all exclusive beats. However, one night I began looking back at my past remembering the days of growing up and all the struggles I had encountered throughout my teens and up until around 25. These thoughts slowly began to influence my album and I thought to myself this may also be a good idea to help myself “heal” from all the mental wounds I had left over as well as tell my story of who I am.
UA: How was working on your solo album different than anything you’ve done before?
Rishi: Like I mentioned, the only projects I had done were small mixtapes here and there. I didn’t really put too much time into them since they were only mixtapes over beats I didn’t even own or anything like that. I put my heart in every track I do no matter what, but when it came to album time I knew I had to put more than just my heart into every lyric. This album looks back into many dark moments of my past life, so with that being said I pretty much physically had to remember these awful times just to write the tracks and capture that correct emotion when I was in the booth recording. My producer David “Shadowless” Kennedy would not let me leave the booth no matter how many takes I had done or no matter how tired I was until it was perfect. At the time I wanted to kill him every time he would cut me off in the middle of a verse, but now looking back I’m glad he was there pushing me through every single session which in turn captured the “perfect” sound on each track.
At times it sort of felt like a second job, but looking back now I’m glad I was able to accomplish this as I’m pretty sure not too many unsigned artists these days can say they have an album under their belt all done by themselves!
UA: The melody of each track in your new album is unique and appealing. What comes first, the lyrics or the composition?
Rishi: I pretty much always derive the topic/concept of the song from what the beat tells me. Whenever I first get a beat I like, I listen to it thoroughly front to back a few times paying attention to the changeup for the hook as well to maybe get a rough idea of a hook in my head. The beat pretty much tells me what to start writing. I always write to a beat first so the structure will be correct. Sometimes however, I’ll write to one beat and then if I hear another beat that suits the concept better I”ll alter the structure of the lyrics if needed to fit the beat. After writing the song I make sure to practice it several times before I go in the booth and record it. I make sure I have the lyrics pretty much memorized so while recording I’m merely just using the paper as a reference allowing myself to just naturally spit it and let go with emotion.
UA: In the track “Take a look inside,” you make a 9/11 reference, is that how your father passed away? I’m sure there are millions of children who felt the same emotions you rap about on that track, how were you able to put it into words?
Rishi: Yes, unfortunately my father never made it out that day. That was actually probably one of the major turning points in my life that it mentally effected me and haunted me for years. I experienced so many different emotions at different times for many years after it happened which in turn definitely had effects on some of my actions growing up (which I go into detail in the album). This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned my father on a track, infact I’ve been doing a dedication track to him each year around the 11th since 2007 (which can all be found on my youtube page). This year will probably be the last one I do with the 10 year anniversary and also with me myself feeling well enough to in a sense let go of the past pain I went through.
Topics that are personal to me or have effected me negatively are probably the easiest for me to let out on the mic or write songs about since they are coming directly from the heart. Yes sometimes as I’m writing tracks like the ones dedicated to my father, it does bring tears to my eyes going back to the past and bringing up the memories I once shared with my father. Getting in the booth and laying down these type of tracks are also extremely hard. Regardless of my current state of mind, I have to first turn the lights off in the studio and just keep the black light on in the booth before I record. I sit there in the dark with the black light glowing and mentally put myself back in those situations slowly being to feel the pain again. This is when I am at the best state of mind to record tracks like these. After these tracks are done I feel like a weight has been lifted off my chest, so in turn it also has a positive effect.
UA: You’ve stated before that for this album is inspired by some tough times in your life after your father passed away. What helped you get through the loss? Was it music?
Rishi: Well I didn’t start rapping until about 5 years after my father passed, so at the time the only thing that really helped was sticking through with staying on the basketball team in high school as it was my fathers dream for me to make the varsity squad. I tried my best to take out all my anger and frustration on the court as best I could. Unfortunately after I did finally make varsity my junior year of high school there were differences I had with the coach all throughout and quit halfway through my senior year. This might have not been the best decision, as I feel at the time it was the only thing sort of keeping me on path. And yes after I quit the team, I definitely got involved with the wrong crowd of people and was taking out my anger from the loss of my father on other things (I go into detail on all of this on the album again)
Anyway fast forward about 5 years later no longer a troubled teen but a young man with troubles still on his mind I started rapping. With thoughts of my father always on mind along with all the mishaps that happened in my life I began to see how music was a great way to let it out. I tell people this all the time, I personally can’t and won’t talk to you about my personal problems. It’s just something I don’t feel comfortable with nor would want to share unless you are truly a close friend or a family member. With that being said, when I found out how therapeutic music was, I never held back once on how I felt. That’s why I tell people these days if you really want to get to know me, “Take A Look Inside” and listen to my album.
UA: The track “I’m Sorry” is a song many people can relate to who are stuck in the vicious circle of drug addiction. What led you to write such a track and who would you say sorry to?
Rishi: I want to start by saying I was definitely not addicted to anything drugs nor alcohol just to make that clear. I was more so using alcohol as an escape from how I felt inside everyday. I never really thought I was doing this as I would mainly go out on weekends just like most people my age. However, what I didn’t seem to notice was ever since around the age of 19 up until about 25 every time I would go out (about once or twice a week) I would totally black out. After a few close friends noted on this behavior and talked to me about it, I slowly bean to realize that I was drinking so much to hide the person who I hated at those times in my life. I would wash the pain away with alcohol and in a sense be numb to it, but this only made things worse the next day and many days following. Like I stated above, I’m not the best at talking about this kind of personal stuff, so if you want details make sure to play “I’m Sorry” loudly and listen closely haha.
Anyway, after slowly realizing that I had some sort of problem with binge drinking I knew I had to wean myself off it. It was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do. This was a habit I had known to do for almost 7 years. I have a line in the song that says “For 7 years, once a week I would totally black out” However, god willingly I was able to cut down the drinking slowly week by week month by month and I am proud to say I no longer binge when I drink and can socially enjoy a drink these days without even getting the slightest buzz all along while still have a great time when out.
So looking back after all the damage the drinking had done to me mentally and physically I wanted to write a track about it. I originally had another beat I had recorded/written to but I came across this beat and the sampled hook on it fit my concept perfectly so last minute we changed up the beat and re recorded it. The song is basically just me saying sorry to myself for drowning the pain with alcohol.
UA: You’ve got a lot of other tracks that people can relate to like “She Should Know,” so do you draw your inspiration from your own life when you write music?
Rishi: It’s funny you bring this one up, because people have been coming up to me lately and asking if that story is real or if it was about me. To answer everyone’s question out there, no the story is all made up and is not about me or anything I’ve experienced thankfully because it definitely is a pretty tragic story if you listen closely to it. However, it’s not just some fairy tale but definitely based on real life events that I’m sure have happened to someone. Again this beat I had made with a sample from one of my favorite bands growing up, Staind. The sampled hook just fit perfectly for a story telling type track and I also wanted to show my listeners that I can also tell stories that aren’t about me but do pertain to real life instances.
UA: If you could have collaborated with any artist on this album, who would it be and why?
Rishi: Hmmm, this one’s pretty tough because to be honest with you I know the industry is all about making money. So, with that being said I’m sure if I wanted to collaborate with an artist that is signed to some sort of label it would definitely cost me a large sum. Anyway, sorry for being a Debby downer there but to answer the question I would have to say Joe Budden. He is definitely one of my favorite artists I listen to mainly because I can almost relate to everything that man says on a record and he keeps it real. It would be cool if I could’ve had him on a verse talking about some real life experiences and maybe even have his singer Emanny on the hook….now that would be a record right there!
UA: You’ve said before that now, at the age of 26, you finally feel like you’re in control of your life , so what’s an accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
Rishi: I mean as I say on the album I probably been suffering from some sort of mental pain on and off for the past 10 years in regards to life experiences, but even at my lowest points in life I never gave up. What I mean by this is, I still graduated college and have maintained a well paying job ever since. Yes, there were several days I wanted to just give it all up and never go back to work or school again but something inside kept pushing me to never give up. Maybe call it God, maybe it was just the blood in my veins passed down from family members that kept pushing me or maybe it was the people in my life I’ve been fortunate to have that were there for me to give me advice and never give up. I’m not really sure what it was but now feeling well and looking back I have to say those are definitely some big accomplishments. The track “Can’t Be Stopped” actually goes in to detail about all this.
UA: What projects can your fans expect from you next?
Rishi: Well right now, I’ve just been busy promoting the album….doing interviews, and starting to do some small performances which I hope to continue to do throughout the year.
Musically however, I am looking to drop an EP with two of my boys Shadowless (who produced my whole album and was on 2 tracks) along with Danchise (he was on one of the tracks). We are looking to release it around Halloween time with a kind of Halloween theme I guess you can say but in lament terms just some raw hard hitting hip hop. So be on the lookout for that.
I’ve also started experimenting with different styles of beats specifically electronic beats. I always been a fan of electronic music…drum and bass to be exact and recently got back into about a year ago. I like the mellower tracks as it helps me relax and get my mind off things. With that being said, I’ve recently recorded over a dubstep beat and am working on a drum and bass beat. I’m still sort of getting used to how to flow on these beats since they obviously have different drum patterns then your typical hip hop beat, but I’m def planning to maybe release an EP by the end of the year on all electronic beats so also stay tuned for that!
UA: Let’s get a little more personal! What city are you dying to visit and what’s the first thing you would do when you get there?
Rishi: Hmm good question. To be quite honest I’d have to say Las Vegas., I went when I was a kid with my family but I think I’m definitely due for a trip now! First thing I would probably do is after checking into the hotel and after taking my phone and wallet out of pocket, I would do a cannon ball in the resorts pool with my clothes on to start my trip off with a bang haha. No I’m serious I can see myself doing something crazy like that, I’m pretty random with stuff like that…I like to just have fun at any given moment because you never know when its your turn to go, right?
UA: What do you prefer more, chai or coffee?
Rishi: Yes I am going to go with the typical Indian answer here and say chai! Not a big fan of the taste of coffee and sometimes I feel it can be a bit too strong for me.
Rishi: Lets take a look….well my ipod has top 25 so I”ll just give you a brief overview I guess. I definitely have a lot electronic music in there which I’m sure most people aren’t familiar with but my favorite on there is “Future Memories” by ATB. Secondly I usually listen to a lot of beats I’m planning to rap over just to get an idea and let the beat sink into my head. I have a beat on there by Joe Kurioo who produced 4 of the tracks on my album, definitely a very talented producer that I can mesh with very well. Lastly of course there’s some hip hop on there and as I stated before Joe Budden is probably one of my favorite rappers if you want to call it that and his track “Ayo” has definitely been on repeat ever since it leaked. I literally relate to every single word on that track from all the verses to the hook.
UA: If you weren’t an artist what would you be instead?
Rishi: Tough to say, but I guess I would have just been your average mid 20’s guy with a lot on his mind. As Lupe said it, Hip Hop def saved my life or def helped me cope with a lot of bad experiences. I tell people that if it weren’t for Hip Hop I’m not totally sure if I would be here right now.
UA: If you were trapped in a cabin on a mountain top, what are 4 things you absolutely must have?
Rishi: Well definitely my phone saying that it will have full service that is! My ipod as that’s another necessity I pretty much use everyday. Also maybe a pen and pad as my thumbs would get pretty tired from writing rhymes with my phone. And lastly a nice looking down to earth girl, to keep me company.
Be sure to download Rishi’s debut album right here! Just click on the link: www.thefnspot.com/
You can catch up with this rising star on Youtube ( www.youtube.com/riship85) or even Facebook (www.facebook.com/riship85)!