Categorized | Feature, Interviews

“I Belong To U” singer Ranjini

Posted on 25 August 2016 by admin

Ranjini is an Indian-American recording artist and songwriter. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Ranjini learned to sing from her mother, Uma Ettigi.

She wanted to learn how to play the piano and played by ear until her parents agreed to enroll her in formal piano lessons at age 11. As a preteen, Ranjini started experimenting with pop and R&B after discovering artists like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion- singers which influenced Ranjini’s vocal style.

Here’s Generation Next’s interview with Ranjini:

Please tell us a bit about your academic/family background?
As with most Indian families, my family has always emphasized the importance of education. My father, Prakash, is a physician, and my mother, Uma, founded her own Indian Arts Academy in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia focusing on Carnatic vocal, Bharatanatyam, and veena. My sister and I were her first students! For me personally, I loved school, have always had a passion for learning and was on course to going to law school when I made the very tough decision to put my college career at NYU on hold to pursue a music career.

Why be in the arts?
The arts allow me be who I am. From the way I choose to approach a song vocally to the outfits I wear onstage or in a music video, I get to pretty much be in control. Singing has been my way of expressing myself since I was a toddler and was never just a hobby for me. It’s always been so much more. When I started writing songs and achieving a little bit of success with that, songwriting became an extension of my artistry and let me know I made the right career choice.

What is it for you? American music or Indian music?
Both! I have a Carnatic vocal foundation, but grew up listening to Mariah, Whitney, Lauryn Hill, Brandy and Christina Aguilera just to name a few. I think when you’re a music lover, good music is good music, no matter what the style or language.

Why do you think many modern songs & music videos are not like evergreen songs & music videos of the past?
The Internet has changed how consumers receive music forever. The rate at which we get information is faster than ever before. Similarly, the rate at which fans listen to, digest, get attached to or reject new music is also much faster. Back in the day, it used to be you would hear that your favorite artist is releasing an album, you’d get all excited, the album drops, you go to the store, pay for the whole album (not just a single), unfold the album artwork, pop the CD in and play it on loop. It was this whole experience, exactly how the artist wanted you to experience their body of work they poured so much time in. Today, listeners will listen to half a song on YouTube or Spotify before getting bored and skipping to the next song or the next artist in the “based on artists you like” catalogue. I think artists today feel enormous pressure to always be releasing new material, whether it be a mix tape or jumping on another artist’s record just to stay relevant with their fans. So now it’s a quantity game, and quality has paid the price.

Do you believe art is for entertainment or for social awareness? One can argue that with so much disturbance in life, people would like to enjoy art for relaxation purpose only.
There’s a time and place for both. Personally, my favorite song that I have recorded to date is a humanitarian song I wrote called “I Belong To U”. It’s a message song however, and it’s much harder to get mainstream love for that kind of record. My most popular record was a song called “Instant Message” that we actually never commercially released but it got major airplay on U.S airwaves. It’s your typical love song about a girl who’s all into loving her man, and fans came out in droves telling me they loved the song and want to hear more like that. Don’t get me wrong, of course I like the song, it’s just not my favorite cut. But I always say, the fans like what they like, and they’re NEVER wrong!

What’s your family’s reaction to your profession choice?
My parents are super supportive, and I know I’m lucky in that regard! I meet  Indian kids who have crazy talent, but because they’re afraid of it not working out, they take a safer route when it comes to career decisions. What would we attempt to do, if we knew we couldn’t fail? And sometimes it takes a parent recognizing the talent in their child, and really believing in them enough to help guide them to do bigger things with their God-given gift. Knowing your parents have your back can give a kid the nerve to believe in himself. For me, I went to my parents and told them I was going to pursue music instead of law. I didn’t ask if it was ok with them, I more so let them know (gently) that that’s what I was going to do. They were scared at first, but now I think they’re happy I followed my heart.

Is it a profession where you can make money?
Maybe not at first, but then again I don’t think you should get into this profession if money is your priority. If you’re a singer starting out, consider writing music as well because publishing is a solid way of making money IF your song becomes a hit, or even a quasi-hit. The other way artists make money is by performing. The more you perform the more you build your fan base, and the more you build your fan base, the likelier you are to sell out shows (even if it’s small venues at first). Social media is on your side with fan building so work the hell out of it!

Do good looks matter? Do they get you into the door?
Good looks can get you in the door, but it won’t keep you in the room. Gotta have talent and personality to back it up.

How do you keep yourself fit?
Yoga, and more yoga.

How much time do you spend on social media?
It’s kind of a full time job. I’m always on Instagram posting up pics of pretty much anything going on in my life, whether it’s something music-oriented, or my outfit of the day, or an inspirational quote. It helps me connect with my fans..and I really do read every single comment that’s posted up and reply to every DM sent.

What kind of pressures do you feel as a professional?
From time to time when I’m writing with my producer (Grammy-award winning Quincy Patrick) I feel a little pressured to stay on top of musical trends that may not really be who I am. Like for instance, as much as I love Drake and listen to his music, if I try to write in his style in an attempt to sound fresh, it comes out sounding just like that…an attempt. And that won’t work. So I do feel some pressure when I’m writing to stay ahead of the trend, but my best stuff has been when I’m just at the piano, putting down a simple melody and lyric.

Is the industry different for men vs. women?
Yes, in general, women are held to a much higher physical standard than men. It’s not fair at all, and there are a few exceptions, but that’s the way the industry has been for decades.

How much pressure do you feel to maintain a certain figure and looks?
There is pressure, but I try not to be consumed by it. I will say the pressure is highest before a video shoot because the camera really does add 10 lbs. A month before any shoot, I go on a strict no-carb diet, lots of fish, veggies, and water. I also increase my work out and if there’s dancing in the video, I rehearse like crazy to get the routine down.

What and who do you turn to when depressed?
Meditation is my saving grace!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Continuing to live out my dream, making music, performing for my fans, and hopefully inspiring some young Indian kids out there to follow their dreams too!

What would you like to change in the world. Do you associate yourself with any charities?
I actually co-founded a charity with my producer Quincy called Dreamality, Inc. Music education played such an important role in my life growing up and it’s a shame that schools in underserving communities don’t have access to quality music programs. We bring music programs to these schools and have served over 500 kids so far in the tri-state area in the last 2 years. We’re looking to double that number by the end of 2017. Please visitwww.dreamalityinc.org to make a tax-deductible donation and help bring music education to kids in need!

Your favourite male artist
Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder

Your favourite female artist
Beyoncé and Whitney Houston

What are you currently working on, and what’s coming up in the future?
We just released my latest single “Could It Be” featuring platinum selling rapper Driicky Graham (“Snapbacks and Tattoos”). The video was also released earlier this year and is doing well with the fans. I’m currently working on my next single, an up-tempo in the club track that’s going to get everyone on the dance floor. I’ll also be performing at the Dreamality Benefit Concert at the Highline Ballroom, NYC in November which will be featuring some of the hottest names in the industry. There are also some plans in the works for some television projects in 2017, so keep an eye out!

Official Website- www.iamranjini.com
Instagram- @ranjiniofficial
Twitter- @ranjiniofficial
Facebook- Facebook.com/iamranjini

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