Mashing Sounds with Rini

Mashing Sounds with Rini

New Indian electronica.

By Deepali Gupta

Leading an international cadre of musicians, New York based, Chennai born singer, composer & violinist Harini “Rini” Raghavan (she/her) creates her own version of Indian electronica. Harini draws from her formal training in Carnatic music & work at Berklee College of Music in Electronic Production to bring together sounds & music of her birthplace in India & her home in the U.S. Rini has released three EP's worldwide to critical acclaim.

Who is Rini? Describe her in a sentence.

Rini is an Indian Singer, Violinist and Composer, based in NYC, creating music that brings together sounds of her birthplace in India and her home in the US.

Why are these artists in your ears right now?

This list depicts all the amazing women artists who’ve influenced me since my childhood starting from Indian classical rooted fusion musicians like Zeb & Haniya, Subha Mudgal to electronic artists like Imogen Heap, Bjork. It spans a range of genres and artists of various countries that bring authenticity to their music being true to themselves and where they are from.

Photo by Anne Whitman

Photo by Anne Whitman

How do you approach layering or combining musical influences in your work?

Indian classical music is predominantly monophonic and has a ton of modes that can help create intricate melodies. I use these along with western harmonies and sometimes modal harmonies. I also include a lot of the raga (mode)’s themes in the electronic synths that I arrange in my music and some of the folk rhythms. It is definitely a challenge to seamlessly blend all these different genres but, it is also the most exciting thing about creating music that transcends genres.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of pursuing a music career?

I enjoy different aspects of being a musician, as a performer, a composer and arranger. As musicians we take up different gigs to initially sustain ourselves. But as we grow, it is about how much time you want to spend doing each project and how to say no to some projects. It is about always evaluating if my heart is in the opportunity that is coming by and if it fits in the bigger picture of who I want to be as a musician. It’s challenging to have clarity in every decision and managing all the relationships we make along the journey.

I love that the music I make represents South Asian immigrants.
Photo by Anne Whitman

Photo by Anne Whitman

What do you love most about the music you make?

I love that the music I make represents South Asian immigrants — the familiar sound of home along with the contemporary sound of American music, which is now their home. For people who don’t know much about Indian music, it is a more accessible format of getting introduced to it.

What kind of music do you think you’ll be making in a few decades?

I will definitely be listening to more new artists and genres and see how I can blend these. I am always excited about the endless possibilities of creating a new kind of sound by aesthetically blending genres.

Play with a team of musicians that understands your intent.

What advice do you have for other artists working across global traditions?

I would tell them to get deeper into the traditions they are working with and blend them aesthetically rather than just trying to mash them up superficially. It’s also important to play with a team of musicians that understands your intent and bring your music to life the way you envision it.

Who’s one artist on your playlist we need to start following immediately, and why?

Imogen Heap! I can’t wait to see her perform live this May in NYC. She writes amazing music, produces her own music and is always on the lookout for the next big thing in electronic music (she uses the glove for gesture based triggers). I love the way she uses vocal textures and samples traditional instruments and sounds in her music. One of my favorites is her collaboration with Vishal - Sekhar - ‘Minds without Fear’.

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