Singer-songwriter and producer DJ Ritviz on creating a ‘new world’ with his music
Fresh off his collaboration with ‘Ms Marvel’, singer, songwriter, and record producer Ritviz released his debut full-length album, titled ‘Mimmi’, which he describes as his ‘most personal piece of work till date’–an ode to his mother, or ‘Mimmi’, as he fondly refers to her.
The eight-track compilation is not only inspired by his childhood reminiscences, but also centres on the bond he shares with his mother, who features as a vocalist and a lyricist in the album.
The album makes an earnest attempt to establish how life has come full circle for Darbhanga-born, now Goa-based musician, whose songs can be aptly termed as ‘earworms for the soul’.
“Mimmi is a collection of songs I wrote with my mom to understand love better. I feel very grateful for the love I have received and continue to receive–it has and always will give me the strength to keep moving forward,” Ritvis says, speaking about the album.
“But where there’s love, there’s also heartbreak. Once I grew out of my cocoon and into the world outside is when I truly realised the value of the love I was taught, while being accepting of other love languages.
“My journey of realising this was the progression of the album that I shared with my mother, only to realise that it’s not the journey even, but the company that helped me rejoice and realise, and that is why the album is an ode to my mother.”
In a conversation with YS Life, Ritviz speaks about the role of his parents in his musical upbringing, the importance of collaborations, and how he is inspired by everything around him.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YS Life (YSL): Your latest album, Mimmi, is an ode to your mother? You have said you woke up in the morning to your mother’s riyaaz? Your father is a tabla player… Tell us about your initiation into music.
Ritviz Srivastava (RS): Music has been in our home forever. My father plays the tabla, my mother is a classical singer, and I would wake up to her riyaaz in the mornings. Organically, sometimes, I would join Ma in the mornings, and that’s how I was raised, musically. Music played a very big role in my upbringing. If I had to be more elaborate, I think having Ma look at music and way she practiced and my introduction into music made me what I am today. I don’t look at music as a career or a thing I need to master. It’s something I enjoy doing, that makes me feel like I am myself. I understood all these only because I saw my folks treat it that way.
YSL: You dropped out of school to pursue music. How did you take the criticism that came along with it?
RS: I don’t think I dealt with any criticism. I think mostly my parents did--with mum at school and dad in his workplace in the bank, I think they dealt with people around them saying stuff about me like leaving school, but it never reached me. Which is what I am grateful for because that allowed me to make music comfortably.
YSL: Did you expect to become this popular? Or did you undergo the usual struggles to become a musician?
RS: I got my big break in 2017 with Udd Gaye, but I had spent a good four years before that—I dropped out of school in 2013 and spent these years making music professionally, full-time. So, obviously, there was a set of struggles that came with it—dealing with shows and stuff before hitting that big stage.
YSL: How important has learning different styles of music, especially classical music, helped you come into your own?
RS: It has been a big influence on the way I structure music today, it was a very subconscious placement—it happened in my head, without me formulating it.
Having to hear Indian classical music was itself an influence, but learning crafted the way I make music today.
YSL: Can you say your music has an Indian soul and a Western nuance to it? How do you fuse the two elements?
RS: Growing up, listening to hip-hop and the top 40s stuff, and learning Indian classical music were from two different worlds, and I formed a new world with these. I am going along with that–listening to new things and if I am inputting new things, there is a new output.
YSL: How important is visual identity to your music?
RS: Everything I do, from visual identity to sound—I started to look at differently when I started to ask myself, ‘what do I care about’, what I do in everyday life becomes my brand identity. I like to wear kurtas, I like to rock a bomber jacket, and I love sneakers—all the things I am passionate about then becomes my visual identity of sorts.
YSL: What are you inspired by when you make your music?
RS: Everything around me—I look at music as an expression, and this comes from learning, meeting new people, spending time with family and loved ones. You have to live your life in order for music to come to you.
YSL: How important are musical collaborations?
RS: For the longest time, I didn’t see value in it because I was too busy just figuring out what Ritviz and my sound is. Once I showcased my sound and set it in place and started meeting like-minded people, I started creating music with others. I would go visit Udyan (Udyan Sagar of Nucleya) for dinner and would end up writing music together.
YSL: Is there a generational shift in the way music is perceived and would you say yours is the music of the new generation?
RS: I think as long as I’m honest about my work, it can transcend all demographics.
Edited by Megha Reddy