Radha is a multitalented artist from Boston who I recently discovered through a video I saw of her street performing and having an awesome + wholesome interaction with John Legend, who just so happened to be walking by and decided to stop and view her set. This lead me down the wormhole of listening to all of her releases on Spotify, and about a month or so ago, we had a conversation about her upbringing and musical career. Take some time out of your day to learn about Radha below!
EM: Where are you from?
Radha: I was born and raised in Boston, although I did spend a couple of years in India for my middle school years, but was mostly raised in Boston.
EM: That transition and culture shock from Boston to India and back again had to have been crazy.
Radha: The transition was actually really hard for me. I moved to India was I was twelve and I was a really shy child, I struggled to accumulate to the new surroundings.
Especially because India is a very different culture, between the language barrier and meeting new people, it gave me a huge stimulation overload. Once I settled into it though and started making new friends and connecting with art in India, it got better. However, I did end up moving back to the States and attended high school and college here in Boston. The culture shock was difficult for sure, but it ended up being a very transformative experience for me.
EM: What was it like growing up in Boston once you got back to the States?
Radha: Boston was great, I had so many beautiful opportunities around here. My mother is a music teacher and Indian classical vocalist, so as a kid we would always have hundreds of music students in my home ever evening, and I was totally immersed in it. Boston has been a great place to foster my love for music, I have been able to perform at a ton of the luxury properties around here and on the streets of Boston as well.
EM: So with your mom being a music teacher, did she push you to pursue music at all?
Radha: My mom never pushed me to pursue music but she showed me the beauty of it, she practiced it every morning and was consistently teaching children. So it became very obvious to see the impact that music had on oneself when you pursue it and take it seriously. She never pressured me into it, but her love for it lead me to understand the impact of it.
EM: Tell me about your musical influences, growing up, who were you listening to and inspired by?
Radha: My musical influences have shifted over the years, but growing up it was a lot of old school R&B Sade, D’angelo and I also loved Norah Jones for more of a funky jazz ambiance. I eventually moved into an era of pop where I loved artists like Kelly Clarkson! Then moved into R&B as a started to contemplate the deeper things in life like love and loss, so I fell into Summer Walker, Jhene Aiko, The Weekend, etc.
EM: At what age did you first start recording music yourself?
Radha: I started recording music around the age of 13 or 14, but I didn’t release any of my original music until a few years later. I definitely was writing very young, even unprofessional recording myself and doing live gigs, I was very young when I first started.
EM: Then is Radha your real name or an artist name? If so, where did that come from?
Radha: Yes, Radha is my real name! It is also the goddess of love and devotion in Hinduism, but yes, my real name!
EM: Back in February, you released your single “Drowning”. Can you tell me about the creation process of that song?
Radha: “Drowning” started as a verse that I wrote on this app called Boise, which has a ton of beats and producers upload instrumentals that you can song-writer to – I used to dabble with this app a ton just for exercise. I started to really like the verse I had written, I eventually wrote a hook to it and reached out to the producer saying “Hey, I want to write a song to this”. I ended up completing the song in about a day, and the song talks about being afraid of putting yourself out there for someone after you’ve been burned in the past. It’s about surrendering, learning to love again, and falling right into it.
EM: I’d imagine that the single means that there is a project in the works, can you speak to that?
Radha: Yes, there is a project in the works. I have been dabbling in the genre of trap-soul; so a lot of acoustic and electric guitar with soulful + melodic trap beats. It’s been a journey, the project definitely touches on love and loss, as well as pain and joy, really just overall life experience.
EM: I saw a video on your social channels of you performing as John Legend walked by and stopped to view your performance for a while. Tell me about that experience of having a legend of that magnitude give you some flowers.
Radha: Deciding to street perform was a very spontaneous idea for me, it came about during the pandemic when there were no live performances anymore. Venues had shut down and with everyone being in their home, I was getting a bit restless and I wanted to connect with people through music so I thought; Why not just go perform out in the open and see what comes from that?
I went to Faneuil Hall one day which is a very popular location in Boston that has plenty of stores and foot traffic, a great place for tourists to come by. I just knew that I wanted to perform there so I submitted an application and about a week later for an artist program that they run and was able to start performing. It was incredible to perform for so many strangers and people from many different walks of life, and have these spontaneous interactions, one of those being John Legend. That specific interaction only happened about a month or two into my pursuit of street performing.
“All Of Me” was a song that was a part of my two-hour set that I would often play, this song was always a fan favorite, but one day I was singing it and I noticed a man who looked just like John Legend. He was sort of standing in front of me, with a mask on, while a crowd was starting to form behind him. I was wondering if it was him, then suddenly he took off his mask partway through the song, and instantly thought – “don’t screw this up”. I just remanded calm and powered through it, although there was a lot going on in my head.
EM: Do you have a personal favorite song that you have created so far?
Radha: My personal favorite song is my first release on streaming platforms called “Wish I Knew”. It was co-written with a friend of mine at Boston University named Ben Atlas
I wrote the song when I was sick with the flu, I was not feeling well at all, I just sat down by the piano and started to play these chords and sing a sad melody. It turned out to be a great, slower-tempo R&B song that I still perform to this day.
EM: How was your experience attending Boston University?
Radha: My experience was very good, I was to BU for business and studied fiance, which is very different from music. The approach was to study something that could be a safe option in my future and land me a stable job, but my heart wasn’t fully in fiance, it was more in creativity and expression. The cool thing about BU is that it gave me a bunch of cool opportunities to perform around campus and to meet producers and people my age in the area. Boston is a super university-heavy city so it turned into a great opportunity to network and get introduced to the Boston music scene.
EM: Who are some artists that you’d like to work with in the future?
Radha: Wow, there are so many people! One that is relevant to my past is John Legend, I do want to work with him. I would love to make music with Summer Walker, I resonate with her style and she is so talented.
EM: What are some of your goals for the rest of 2023?
Radha: I am definitely working on music, releasing a project in 2023 is definitely up there and it’s being worked on at the moment. Being able to maintain very strong relationships with my friends and family, it can be simple yet complicated to be up-to-date, vulnerable, and open. Also, getting into live performances again and enjoying everything that comes with it. I am excited to connect with more people through live music in the future.
EM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Radha: I don’t have a certain number or stand or metric or fame or anything like that. It’s more about continuously surrounding myself with like-minded creatives, collaborating with artists, and making new music that I like. Journeying through music so I can try different sounds and genres, I am passionate about delving deeper into what I love over the next five years!