15 – 02 – 2021

Interview: Paravi Das

With her combination of sketch comedy, art posts and music clips, Paravis Das has notched up 11.8 million likes on TikTok. Now, she’s taking on streaming platforms, clearing 2 million total streams in less than five months with a thunderous cover of Børns’ ‘Electric Love’. We checked in with Paravi, to get her take on the shifting musical landscape and life as an independent artist in 2020.

Hi Paravi, thanks for dropping by. It’s rare to come across such a versatile artist - you act, design, dance, illustrate and, of course, sing. Where do you find the time for it all?

I like to think there are 36 hours in my day, but I manage to fit it down to 24. In quarantine, I have the blessing and curse of no social life, so balancing a college course load, an internship, a regular job as a graphic designer, and music/TikTok has been an easier schedule to manage but I never treat what I do like a job.

You have 158,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify but your content on Instagram and TikTok is often about your other forms of creative self-expression. We may be approaching an exciting time, when the label of ‘music artist’ is becoming blurred – what are your thoughts on that?

​I love the idea of blurring the lines. Music is about progression and innovation, and I think that’s exactly what the industry needs with social media controlling the Hot 100 lists. Music artists are often viewed as just that, someone to listen to, not to love, and that’s totally reasonable. Our songs don’t tell you our life stories, so how can you truly know us? That’s where social media comes in.

I always try to be completely myself on my socials, and I think that’s a very powerful tool as we approach a new way to make and market music. I make stupid skits, jokes that probably are only funny to me, painting videos, rant videos, honestly, whatever I want that feels true to who I am, because the only way strangers become friends and listeners is through social media. It’s one thing to sustain a high B flat, it’s another thing to sustain an honest, engaging, and authentic persona on social media and in music. Both are equally important in this day and age.

Your work is always colourful and expressive. This is particularly true in your music. Can you shed some light on your creative process?

​I pride myself on bringing some colour in everything that I do. I really try to make the small platform that I have all about positivity and love, for others and myself, and I believe associating my music and persona with colour is a powerful way to do that! All of my social profiles have a yellow circle as my personal picture - my favourite colour, but also my reason for doing what I do. I associate the colour yellow with all of the things I’d like to encourage: happiness, positivity, laughter, love, joy, anything and everything that makes me love life. I think that’s what drives my creative process, because if I do anything in this life, I’d like to make people smile, help them change their mindsets, and embrace the yellow in all that they do. I believe that if I enter every project with a yellow mindset, I can create nothing less than magic. I can create something that makes me happy.

It’s one thing to sustain a high B flat, it’s another thing to sustain an honest, engaging, and authentic persona on social media and in music. Both are equally important in this day and age.

On your Instagram, you designed a beautiful post about Black Lives Matter. Can you talk about the importance of diversity and its influence within your work?

As a teenage, Indian woman of colour, diversity is everything to me. It is something that I never saw on my TV screens growing up, and still don’t see on the stages I hope to perform on one day. I have never been able to treat the entertainment industry as a mirror.

Simply put, there are very few Indian women in pop culture. I can name maybe five, and none of those figures are in the music industry. We rarely hear our own voices come up on Spotify playlists, or see a name we recognize on the tops of American charts. This is why diversity and inclusion is everything to me.​ Right now, we are nothing short of invisible. I have art. I have dance. I have performance. And I will use my platform to speak up for what I believe in, and above all, to pass the mic to those who need it more than I do. Diversity is ​everything I work towards.

Often, we hear criticisms of social media but what do you think are its positive influences?

​Social media is a double-edged sword. It can start and stop careers. The positive influences of social media are incredible. For me, the best part is the messages. People taking time out of their days to send a note about how they cried to your music, how they think you would be good friends, how something you posted changed them in some way. I don’t expect my social media presence to be life changing, but the feeling when someone DM’s you saying they’re so happy an Indian girl like them is grinding their way through the entertainment industry? Yeah, that feeling makes up for everything.

For new artists looking to express themselves online, what is some helpful advice for doing this in a healthy and constructive way?

​Be authentic. Gen Z grew up in a digital age. We know an ad when we see one, and if your only presence is an advertisement, we’ll be swiping away. Social media is just like life in a lot of ways. If you pretend to be someone you’re not, it’ll work for a little while, but just like the end of every cheesy Disney movie, you’re going to be found out and learn that it would have been better to be yourself the whole time. At the end of the day, you know yourself better than a fake persona. Don’t pretend to be happy all the time and don’t pretend to be edgy all the time - just be you.It’ll take longer to gain an audience, but that audience will be with you for the long run.

And now that you’ve gained some momentum, can we expect any new music in 2020?

I never wrote original music until quarantine, and now that I’m stuck with my laptop and piano inside these four walls, I can definitely expect some 3am songs to appear. I honestly don’t know if I’m going to feel confident enough to release anything, but at this point, YOLO. I’m hoping to release some more full covers, but original music won’t be coming to life until I find a team that I can trust to take my scribbles and turn them into songs. If anyone reading this is interested, please reach out!

You can check out the music video for 'Electric Love' below.

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