This is the fourth of our series ‘ePop Stars’, where we speak to young women musicians on their journeys in a digitised music landscape.
Multilingual singer Raveena Mehta is already accustomed to YouTube fame. Her duet Aaja Mere Naal (“come with me” in Punjabi) with Rishabh Kant, has crossed five million views since it released a year ago. Her latest single, a solo titled Tere Liye (“for you” in Hindi), crossed two million in its first month of release.
But interest in music began at a very early age for Raveena, who first came up with a music album at the age of 12. Born in Antwerp, Raveena was raised in Belgium for 11 years after which she moved to Mumbai in 2008. She is fluent in English, Gujarati, Hindi and is proficient in French – and also sings in Punjabi since she grew up listening to Punjabi songs.
Inspired in her childhood by international greats like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, and Indian role models Lata Mangeshkar and Shreya Ghoshal, Raveena was trained in both Indian and Western contemporary styles.
“I believe varied exposure and cultural influences have the ability to give you a lot of perspective, which teaches you a lot,” she notes, adding, “Major components of my personality and vocal style are true amalgamations of both Indian and Western cultures. I would say that my exposure to both cultures and different styles of music have most definitely paved the way for my sound.”
Raveena’s music defies genres. “The work I have showcased so far is within pop, R&B and soul genres,” she posits. Unwilling to pick just one favourite out of all her tracks, she simply says, “I have the most beautiful memories tied to all the songs I’ve created.”
The 25-year-old loves experimenting with music and is very open to exploring various other genres of music. “It’s all limitless and pushing the boundaries of what you know only helps you further realise your own potential,” she says.
Her latest single is an example of her experimental style. Shot in Miami, Tere Liye is a blend of Hindi, Punjabi, and English lyrics, and holds a strong appeal for the Indian diaspora. Through this song, Raveena says she wanted to explore an entirely new genre of music that hasn’t been fully tapped into as yet, opening up space for other female artists in the R&B and soul genres.
“The inspiration behind Tere Liye was really creating a story and mood for all those who long for their loved ones. For the longest time, I wanted to work on an R&B Hindi-Punjabi record, and while I was in New York spending time with some urban desi artists, I became very inspired to create this,” she narrates.
She was taken aback by the response and the sudden popularity of the song. “I honestly did not expect it as Tere Liye was never created thinking about the commercial aspects. But I’m really pleased with the response and the way in which people accepted and loved the song across demographics, not just in India but also in the United States where it featured on the Times Square Billboard! This was a big moment!” she gushes.
Raveena is also the female voice in Tiger Shroff’s single Casanova’s acoustic version. “I had the most incredible time with Tiger in the recording studio where we just jammed and created the beautiful acoustic version,” she says of the experience.
In fact, she has a common connection with the phenomenally successful singer-actor: “Tiger and I studied at the same school in Bombay a couple of years apart. It was really lovely recalling mutual teachers and friends in common.”
A fan of rap, hip-hop and pop, Raveena reaches out to the sounds of artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Doja Cat, Justin Bieber, B Young and AP Dhillon when she needs a good ‘pick-me-up’. She believes there are both challenges and benefits of having your music put up on streaming channels such as YouTube, Spotify and others, versus the older days when people had to buy records or cassettes.
“I would say the greatest benefit of having music on streaming platforms is global accessibility. People from around the world have access to the sound and it’s incredible the way in which it’s made the world a smaller place musically, with more intercultural collaborations,” she opines.
At the same time, she is realistic about the challenges and what greater accessibility entails. “There is a lot of music on these platforms, which can also be saturating for listeners – so it can be a struggle for independent and younger artists to be heard. However, I would say there are more pros than cons. Accessibility to music is a beautiful thing,” she notes.
The global traveller finds herself at home in any environment as long as she is with her loved ones. “People really make the place!” she laughs. “Now, if I had my people with me, then my favourite place to travel would be the French Alps. I’ve grown up skiing, and I can never get enough of skiing down snowcapped mountains – truly one of the most therapeutic experiences,” she says.
She shares her routine before recording any new song: “I always take an infusion of hot water, lemon, honey and ginger with me whenever I go for a recording session.” She also admits to a quirky habit: “I spend my car rides to studios doing vocal warm-ups (which might not be as fun for the person driving me)!”
Lead image: Raveena Mehta / Instagram