One of the names that'll stick around for a while when it comes to independent music here is Ramya Pothuri, who has been playing around the city and the country for a little while now. With a voice that somehow evokes joy and melancholy simultaneously, Ramya is definitely a presence to be reckoned. We were fortunate enough to ask her a few question about her music and her life, and here's how that went :
1. So you're from St. Louis, I hear. May I ask what brought you to Bombay?
A: So my parents, after living in America for 25 years, decided to move my sister and I to India for their business actually. We moved to Hyderabad where I lived for three years, and then I came to Mumbai alone to pursue my career. I was born in Michigan actually but I moved to St. Louis when I was really young and lived there for the next 11 years before moving to India.
2. Did moving to a different country influence your music in any particular way(s)?
A: Oh my god completely. Music was always a huge part of my life, my parents are both music lovers, and my dad is a multi-instrumentalist and singer. Growing up we didn't have a TV or cellphones, so my sister and I learned the guitar and sang with all our extra time. We would figure out harmonies and learn songs with intricate guitar parts to play together. Anyways when I moved I was sixteen which is not the best time to move haha. I was so happy with my life, so I did not take the move well in the beginning. It was a difficult adjustment period and everything was so overwhelmingly different. Music went from being something that I did in my pass the time to what I was using to express and handle everything that was going on. I eventually met some people at my new school, who are now my closest friends, and we would sit in an empty classroom during free periods and just sing songs. It then also became the way I bonded with people and made friends at a time when all I really wanted to do was go back. When I started writing songs, naturally almost all my songs were about St. Louis, or leaving home, or adjusting to a new home. I was kind of channeling all the emotions that came with the move - homesickness, excitement, reminiscence, into my songs!
3. Could you tell us more about why you became a musician and also possibly about artists that may have inspired you?
A: Other than all the above reasons, It really happened when I got my first job singing at the Trident Hotel in Hyderabad. I LOVED that job, and it just seemed like common sense after that. I have artists that inspire me but I don't think there's any one artist that inspired me to become a musician. That decision came from the gap year that I took after High School and the job that I mentioned. But some artists that inspire me on the daily are Bon Iver, Daniel Caesar, and SZA to name a few.
4. What are your thoughts on Hindustani and Carnatic Classical forms of music? Do you see yourself exploring either of these art forms in the future?
A: One of the reasons I moved to Mumbai was to study Hindustani actually, and I was very serious about it for the year I was studying it. I loved learning different raags, they each have their own personalities and quirks that you could just study for years and years. I realised while as I was singing more hindustani that my voice was improving significantly in other styles of music as well. Like I owe a lot of my technique and tone today in my own music to studying it. I would love to put some of what I learned to use if the opportunity arises, and hopefully get back into it!
5. Would you call yourself a foodie? Tell us more about the kind of food you like to eat!
A: YES. So I used to be a complete junk food eater, but now I really love cleaner and healthier food. My whole family has been on this health trip and I've really been enjoying it. My mom and dad make a bunch of things at home that most people pick up at the store, like pasta sauce and almond milk, so when I moved here I tried keeping that up. Its really easy to just order food for every meal when you're living alone. I love veggies so I just eat as much of that as I can. If I had to name a few foods it would be Pasta, Veggie Burgers, Soup, and Sweet Potatoes.