Meet RIKA, the teenager using empowerment as a remedy in her music.
Mission: To change the world’s perspective with her soulful pop.
Growing up as a self-confessed shy kid, RIKA spent much of her childhood with family and a select few friends. It’s a sentiment that she carries even today, choosing to invest her time in those who want the best for her, and return the kindness and help that she wholeheartedly gives. She says that she was the kid whose uniform didn’t quite fit her slender frame properly, and was the one who asked for extra homework after class. Childhood afternoons were filled with tennis lessons until she hit 12 and discovered her school’s music and theatricals department, then they became dedicated to school plays and vocal training. Singing became her happy place and started to become embedded into her DNA.
Of Indian and Serbian origin, but born and raised in London, she explains; “growing up with so many cultures has really made me appreciate how diverse the world is and how creative we are as humans.” Recalling her happiest childhood memories as being related to her belief in Hinduism, celebrating the festivals, dressing up in traditional clothing and indulging in the various foods and desserts on offer to be shared and enjoyed, all top the list. Whilst all three countries hold a place in RIKA’s heart, it is London that owns it and has shaped her strong-willed and prowess nature.
It is here where she discovered Mariah Carey, who has become her icon and motivated her drive to want to reach that status herself. As strong a songwriter as she is a performer, RIKA aspires to match, or even top, that exact level. Studying music professionally and learning to play the piano and to produce was just the beginning, as she went on to earn songwriting qualification from Berklee University of Music in Boston.
Her debut single, ‘No Need’ is an anthem of empowerment, an ode to self-love and an adrenaline rush of confidence. Showcasing her velvety, effortless vocal, sat atop glossy RnB beats and a shameless pop sensibility, the track is an instant endorphin. Debuted live at this year’s Miss Serbia competition, the song positions her as the latest lineage for title of positivist princess. Upbeat lyrics lush; ‘there’s no need to be unkind’, a simply irresistible reminder of how far a little kindness can go, and how much it means.
Last December she penned a heartfelt track, ‘For Peace’, motivated by the violence in Syria. She explains; “I thought to myself, I want to help in some way. I feel that the universal language of life is music, so I wrote and composed a track advocating for the peace for the children of Syria, considering I am a kid myself.” The piano led plea graphics the coverage broadcasted on the news; of children without parents and parents without their children, lost independence and identity, broken homes and scarred bodies, sang boldly for dreamt serenity. Racking up near one million worldwide views on YouTube in just a few short months, the track reached its aim of raising awareness for the children of Syria.
Gathering the attention of hundreds of thousands is no longer a necessarily difficult feat. As a teen of this generation, the technology available makes accessibility instantaneous. RIKA has used this power for good, and in turn has made friends with people across the world and spread her message far and wide.
She is determined not to let the consequent impatience stop her from appreciating the journey to reaching her goal, or to let her message get lost in the noise. RIKA is the change we want to see in the world.
Words by Tanyel Gumushan