Indian-American indie musician Aditya Rao (or Adi Rao) is back with another single entitled “Thrills”. The artist spoke to ai love music about the single as well his musical accomplishments as well as his influences. Aditya Rao is a different class, Bollywood & Hollywood experience, worked with industry leaders like AR Rahman and also performed in a stadium for the Indian Prime Minister and President of the United States. Adi’s distinctive, genre-blending sound infuses pop sensibilities inspired by the likes of Shawn Mendes, John Legend, and Charlie Puth, with soulfully powerful vocals.
Keep on reading to find out what kind of musical vibes/genres did Aditya Rao used to make “Thrills” the perfect summer song. Also, check out Rao’s “Thrills” below and let me know what you think in the comments!
First of all, could you introduce yourself?
I’m an Indian-American Indie musician in the process of releasing two EP’s between now and the end of the year. My work is a culmination of growing up in the US and in India, and how those influences shaped who I am as a human being today.
Below is my official bio:
Adi Rao is an Indian-American singer-songwriter who originally rose to global recognition after winning India’s prestigious State Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts in 2013 and Best Debut Artist in 2015. Classically trained in Carnatic vocals since childhood, Adi’s music infuses Western styles with Eastern soul to produce a genre-bending, alternative sound. Adi can be heard on a variety of celebrated projects with reputable artists across the globe.
He has performed for the Indian Prime Minister, the President of the United States, and a stadium packed with 50,000 attendees. He has sung for Indian and Hollywood film soundtracks – Pelé: Birth of a Legend and Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, to name a few – with multi-Grammy and Oscar-winning music director, A.R. Rahman. He is the leading voice on the soundtrack of the film Beauty in the Broken. He has sung as a chorus member for Billie Eilish, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Camila Cabello, and Carlos Santana.
Adi’s debut album takes you on an unconventional, cathartic journey exploring the nooks and crannies of his perception of the world around him.
How did you get into music? How has your musical journey been?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I’ve been training in Indian Classical (Carnatic) vocals since I was 5, and most of my days are shaped by some level of musical inputs and outputs. Moving to the US when I was 8 years old was definitely a curveball because I didn’t know how to navigate this new world. Through grade school, there was a set of constantly nagging subliminal questions that I wasn’t able to answer: Do I let go of the Indian Aditya Rao and develop this shiny new American Aditya Rao? Do I try to teeter both worlds?
In parallel, what I wanted to be was a full-time musician, but I knew nothing about the business end of the industry, which I felt was important to know, especially if I was to operate as an independent artist who needs to talk to A&R reps, tour managers, review contracts, and everything else that happens in the background before getting on stage.
That’s what led me to get a Master’s in Entertainment Industry Management from Carnegie Mellon. What I didn’t realize was how time flew by during this period. My plan of becoming the Artist was being superseded by this alter-ego, which I realized after working for nearly 8 years.
It’s not that I didn’t work on music during this period – most of my recognized collaborations with other artists were released during this time, but I never had the time or headspace to focus on my own work. That’s when I decided to jump ship and get into the driver’s seat of my own work. It took 2 years to work on developing the songs in these two EP’s.
The fact that the songs traverse so many genres is completely intentional – I can never box myself to just rock, just pop, or just classical.
You have worked with so many people in the music industry. How has that been? What was the most important lesson you have learned from them?
Staying humble and true to yourself is one of the most important – and at many times, the most difficult – attributes. Everyone I’ve worked with so far is in this music world because they love to make music. They enjoy making music that means something to them first, before thinking about how it can connect with the world. I find joy in the process of developing music that is not merely an extension, but the very core of who I am.
Let’s talk about “Thrills”. What is it about?
I had a crazy thought of wanting to hear how a song could blend Funk with African beats and pop/R&B. The next thing I know, I’m working with an indie producer from SF (Nagaari), my high school friend from Pittsburgh (horns/bass), a session guitarist from LA, and a three-time Grammy-winning mix engineer to bring “Thrills” to life. The song hits the right spot this summer, fresh out of a lockdown (mostly), eager to tease and flirt a little.
What was the production of the song like? Was there something you specifically wanted to highlight while recording this song?
My co-producer (who I trust dearly and haven’t yet met in person) lives in San Francisco. My instrumentalists have tracked bass, drums, and horns in their own home studios. I’ve recorded inside closets, at hotel rooms, and in echoey bedrooms. I’ve produced mid-flight, in-between meals, and in-between moving from Los Angeles to Austin. And I think this unconventional way of getting things together, remotely, all came together in the most beautiful manner.
What do you want the audience to listen to in your music?
What I’ve learned is that my music and lyrics connect with people in very different ways; I enjoy the non-uniformity of it. So rather than answering what I want the audience to listen to, I’m more curious to learn how the music or the lyrics connect with them.
What are your future plans?
My third single will be releasing in the coming weeks, followed by the launch of the first EP. I’m really excited to have an opportunity to constantly release new music for the rest of the year while expanding on music for album 2. Lots of new content coming up! You can catch all the latest on my socials, easily available at www.adivocals.com
Lastly, do you have any messages for the readers of ai love music?
My musical journey – although 30 years in the making – is just beginning now, and I can’t wait to continue to share my music with the readers of ai love music in the coming months!
Make sure to check out Aditya Rao at the following sites: