Indian-American singer-songwriter, Raja Kumari spoke to us about her experience growing up in California, how she thinks the Indian music business is different from that of America, how she got her stage name and more ahead of the Bira 91’s April Fools’ Fest.
How did you get your stage name?
I inherited it in a cypher. They always called Me “Indian princess” so I figured it was more suitable in Sanskrit.
How was your experience growing up as an Indian-American in California?
My parents made sure we had all Indian culture in the home, but still lived an American life. I was exposed to a lot of great musicians from my friends, but I was always fascinated and borderline obsessed with coming back to India.
How different is the music business in India from America?
America has a very developed Independent music scene. As a published songwriter, I spent a lot of my time in studios writing for myself and others. India, for me, is a lot more about the shows and bringing something new to The stage. I think in a few years, there will be a lot more homegrown producers and artists…The scene is destined to grow.
Did your training as a classical dancer influenced your music virtuoso?
Completely. It’s the archetype behind all my thoughts. The rhythms, themes and discipline I learned from classical dance inspire all of my rhythmic and melodic choices. I wouldn’t be a musician without dance.
Hip-hop is considered a misogynistic art form by many. Why do you think not as many women pursue hip-hop music? What attracted you to the genre?
Growing up in America, I never acknowledged any boundaries or roadblocks. We were raised to believe that anything is possible in the American Dream. I always believed that I could make a place for myself in music, like Lauryn Hill. Women’s voices and narratives can be so nurturing and informative to the male Audience…I just try to take every opportunity to convey my perspective. Hopefully that opens The door a little more for other strong women’s to come through.
You are a huge A.R Rahman fan. Tell us about your experience working with the legend?
Working with AR is a dream come true. You grow up basically worshipping someone’s sound. When you meet your idols, you just hope for the best. He has always been so encouraging and supportive. I always have to pinch myself when I realise I manifested him into my life. He’s a incredible musician and I am excited every time I get to cross paths with him.
What is your set at the Bira 91’s April Fool’s fest going to be about?
My show is about blending hip hop and classical influences, not only in Sound but in movements, presentation and costume. My dancers and I like to have a lot of fun on stage and I think people will enjoy the way we present “The Come Up”. I’ll be performing songs from my mixtape, Indian releases as well as my album.
Do you have any forthcoming releases or new projects you’re working on?
I’m currently working on a new EP. I’m really excited to give the people a new body of work and to move into the next chapter of my sound.
Can we expect you singing for Bollywood anytime soon?
If the project is right, I would be very excited to bring my brand of fusion to Bollywood. I always grew up enjoying Hindi Films and I think it would be a wasted opportunity to live in Bombay and not take advantage of it.