The rapper talks about his interesting journey, debut EP, inspirations, planned UK tour and love for live performances
AN EXCITING new generation of artists, such as the late great singer Sidhu Moose Wala, has pushed Punjabi music across new horizons around the world.
Riar Saab falls firmly into that new wave of pathbreakers. Having started off as a member of the successful hip-hop quartet Aavrutti, the singer and songwriter from Mumbai is carving out his own path with a fabulous fusion of hip-hop and Punjabi music.
His songs, such as Area 06 and Obsessed, which have crossed 100 million YouTube views, are fast establishing him as a musical power player.
He is connecting with multi – cultural audiences globally and will continue that musical momentum with more gamechanging songs.
Eastern Eye caught up with an artist the world will be hearing more about to discuss his interesting journey, debut EP, inspirations, planned UK tour and love for live performances. He also revealed who his big musical hero is.
What first connected you to music?
My journey into music began with family gatherings, weddings and events where I found myself singing. These early experiences planted the seeds of my musical connection, as I discovered the joy of expressing myself through singing and connecting with others through shared moments of celebration. As I progressed into my teenage years, a new chapter unfolded when I was introduced to the world of hip-hop. The rhythm, poetry and raw expression of this genre resonated with me on a profound level.
That seems like an important turning point for you.
It marked a transformative period in my musical exploration, broadening my horizons and shaping my artistic identity. College became a pivotal juncture in my musical journey. It was there that I encountered like-minded indi – viduals who shared my passion for hip-hop. Forming my own hip-hop group became a catalyst for further immersion into the genre, exposing me to diverse influences and creative collaborations.
Which of your songs has been closest to your heart?
Among my song catalogue, Obsessed holds a special place in my heart. Its significance goes beyond the musical realm as it became a viral sensation and played a pivotal role in propelling my artistic career to new heights.
The overwhelming response from listeners and the way it resonated across a global audience marked a breakthrough moment, making Obsessed not just a song but a defining chapter in my life.
Area 06 has also been a big track. Tell us about how much that means to you.
The number holds a unique significance as it represents a departure into a more distinct hip-hop soundscape. Serving as my first single under the moniker Riar Saab, Area 06 marks a crucial milestone in my artistic evolution. Its creation allowed me to explore and express my affinity for the raw and rhythmic elements of hip-hop, further solidifying my identity as an artist within this genre.
You started off in a hip-hop quartet, but what made you decide to go solo?
The decision to transition from being part of a hiphop quartet to embarking on a solo career was a deeply personal and artistic choice. As I evolved creatively, I found myself drawn to a broader spectrum of musical expression. While in the hip-hop quartet, my role was primarily that of a rapper. My growth as an artist led me to explore singing melodies alongside my rap skills. This growth has allowed me to delve into a more diverse and expansive sonic landscape.
Tell us about that.
I felt the need to experiment beyond the confines of traditional hip-hop, incorporating elements of singing and melody into my repertoire.
This shift marked a pivotal moment in my artistic journey, opening up new avenues for selfexpression and pushing the boundaries of my creativity.
Beyond hip-hop, I harboured a desire to explore Punjabi pop music. Embracing my cultural roots and incorporating Punjabi influences became an integral part of my solo endeavour. It gave me the freedom to navigate and experiment with various musical styles, which ultimately shaped my unique artistry.
What inspired your debut EP, How I Love?
The driving force behind my very first EP is deeply rooted in my own lived experiences. In fact, all the music I create draws directly from the tapestry of my real-life journey. How I Love is a reflection of the emotions and events that have defined my life throughout the previous year, encapsulating the specific mood and sentiments that characterised that period.
What was the journey of creating this EP like?
Conceiving How I Love was a deeply personal and introspective adventure into the intricate nuances of love. The inspiration behind this project stemmed from a profound fascination with the multifaceted nature of romantic relationships. I wanted to explore the diverse dimensions of love, from its mysterious beginnings to the emotional introspection that unfolds in the quiet moments of midnight. Each track in the EP represents a distinct chapter in the broader narrative of love.
How much does the positive response to your solo songs mean to you?
It’s truly gratifying and humbling to witness listeners connect with the music on a personal level. Each song is a piece of my heart, and to know that it resonates with others is incredibly rewarding. Moreover, the encouraging reaction motivates and inspires me to continue pushing boundaries, exploring new themes and refining my craft. It creates a beautiful feedback loop where the support from listeners fuels my passion for creating music.
How much does live performance mean to you?
The stage is where the music comes to life in its rawest and most immediate form. The opportunity to share the emotional journey of each song, to see the reactions and feel the collective heartbeat of the audience is both exhilarating and humbling. It’s a symbiotic relationship where the energy of the crowd fuels my performance and, in turn, I hope to create a memorable and immersive event for them.
Live performance is not just a part of my artistic journey – it’s a profound celebration of the shared human experience through music.
What led you to plan a forthcoming UK tour?
The resonance of Punjabi music in the UK, coupled with a lot of requests from fans, played a pivotal role in shaping this decision. The UK tour is not just about showcasing the music, but also about celebrating the shared love for Punjabi music and forging a deeper connection with the diverse and passionate fanbase that has been emerging in the region.
Who is your own musical hero?
Sidhu Moose Wala was not just a musical hero for me, he was an inspiration and a guiding light in my artistic journey.
His untimely departure has left a void in the music world. His impact on me as an artist is immeasurable. He was unapologetically himself and that authenticity was magnetic. As a musical hero, he taught me the importance of staying true to one’s identity and using music as a medium to connect with people on a visceral level.
If you could master something new in music, what would it be?
There isn’t a specific aspect of music that I aim to master, as the creative process itself is an ongoing and limitless journey for me. The art of creating music and crafting lyrics is a dynamic and everevolving exploration. I embrace a state of constant learning, recognising that there’s always much more to discover, refine and experiment within the realm of music.
Tell us more about that creative process.
The beauty of an artistic endeavour lies in its infinite possibilities and the continuous evolution of one’s craft. I don’t see mastery as a destination, but as a perpetual pursuit. Whether it’s refining my song writing, exploring new musical genres, or experimenting with innovative production techniques, I am committed to staying in a state of perpetual learning.
What inspires you as an artist?
Raw emotions and experiences in life serve as a profound wellspring of inspiration.
The highs, lows, triumphs and challenges – all find expression in my music, creating a genuine and relatable connection with the audience. The world around me is a constant muse.
Whether it’s the beauty of nature, the intricacies of human relationships, or the societal dynamics that shape our existence, every aspect of life holds a story that is waiting to be told through melody and lyrics. Observing, reflecting and interpreting the world in my unique voice fuels the creative process for me.
What about your musical inspirations?
Listening to diverse genres, exploring new sounds and appreciating the artistry of fellow musicians open up new possibilities and tend to push the boundaries of my own creativity.
The connection with my audience is a powerful motivator. The shared experiences and emotions expressed by listeners also serve as a reminder of the impact that music can have on people’s lives.
Knowing that my art resonates with others and becomes a part of their personal journeys is always a driving force that propels me forward.