Written by Ryan Lyons
While working with producer's such as VHS, EU-LV, Telescope Thieves, J.Robb and other's Beya Likhari's created a sound of her own. Many of her tracks feel like a dream, replete with her unique sense of melody. Like on the Subdaio produced "Baile", the Baltimore-based vocalist lets her soothing vocals glide over the instrumental as she stretches the ends of her words.
A storyteller in her own right, Likhari combines Hip Hop influences, Jazz, and R&B forming a genre she calls Acid R&B. In our interview we discuss her influences, creative process, and motivation. Just take a listen some of her gems via soundcloud. Our conversation is below.
You have a very soothing voice. How did you begin singing? And when did you know it would be something you'd do in life?
I have been singing my whole life. I'd say that my experience formally started when I was 6 years old because that's when I started singing in a choir. Shout out to all the choir nerds out there.
Music has always been a constant in my life... it was a very personal thing. As time progressed, it just became a matter of if I wanted to share my music with people outside of my friend circle or not and I'd say that moment came a couple years ago.
What genre would you put your music in? What did you grow up listening to?
My music has elements of soul, jazz, and hip-hop in it and because it's a blend of so many things, it wouldn't really be fair to place it in a super specific genre... but to make things easier, I've classified it as Acid R&B.
I listened to a lot of different things growing up, but country music and old school Bollywood were constants.
"I think that my sound is a culmination of everything that I listened to growing up. So I'd say that my approach to how i choose my production and create my melodies stems from that. " - Beya Likhari
What Indian music are you into? And How do you feel about the Indian music scene in the states? Do you ever feel inclined to put aspects of your cultural heritage into your music?
I'm into old school Bhangra, Ghazals, Dr. Zeus and...everything, really. My Dad has a huge hand in what I listen to in this realm and so a lot of times, he'll play really old stuff, knowing that I'll enjoy it. The scene in the states is growing and developing. I'm super excited to see what happens in the next couple of years. I think that my sound is a culmination of everything that I listened to growing up so I'd say that my approach to how i choose my production and create my melodies stems from that.
"Sometimes, when I'm writing, I don't immediately know where what I'm writing is coming from until I reflect on it later." - Beya Likhari
We spoke about this era in music and how things come out, how projects and music come out. As a listener what do you appreciate more? Albums, Mixtapes, Songs? How do you feel about distribution of them and what has worked for you as an artist?
I'm not opposed to music being presented as an album, mixtape or songs, I just want to listen to something that will make me think... something different.
You have songs like "Letter" & "Sugar" which speak about love and "Eventually" which speaks about bi-polar tendencies and depression. What puts you in the mood to create both types of songs? How did Love Letters From Lola come Together?
I think that it is important to talk about the good and the bad, whether in music or life in general. It's a constant balancing act. Love Letters from Lola was a love story in the form of 4 "love letters" and "sugar" is literally about falling down the rabbit hole of love... "Eventually" is basically about when you're so deep in the trenches that the love becomes debilitating.
How does it feel to put your emotions on the table, and write about it, but also sing it live and express it?
It is weird and awkward. I say that mainly because the only way for me to accurately express myself is through my music. I never anticipated people relating to my writing and the fact that they do is amazing and encouraging. It really pushes me to be honest about my thoughts.
Can we speak about the process? Putting words to paper, Putting words to sound? How does music begin to come together for you?
This is heavily based on my mood. A lot of times, if I hear a beat that I like, thoughts just come and I don't have to write them down. Other times, it takes longer to find my direction for the track.
On "Eventually" you sang about depression. Is that a personal experience? How do you deal, if so? Do you meditate?
Again, I think it's all about balance. Life is full of ups and downs... It's just a matter of how you turn those downs into things that push you to keep working harder. And sometimes, when you can't get that positive push, you have to embrace the down... and a lot of times, when you embrace it... something good comes out of it anyway. The gym and yoga definitely help me maintain this balance.
What inspires you? Also, is there any album you've been listening to back to back lately?
My friends inspire me. Their encouragement is why I'm here. I've been listening to Skepta's album non-stop since it dropped. Love it.
When Usher wrote his Confessions album, I believe a lot of it was about his friends experiences. Is any of your work like that? Or is it totally personal?
A lot of my music is about things that I've seen. Sometimes, when I'm writing, I don't immediately know where what I'm writing is coming from until I reflect on it later. Weird, I know.