INDepth: With Kavya Trehan

INDepth: With Kavya Trehan

FTC caught up with multifaceted and extraordinarily talented creative, Kavya Trehan to know more about the singer-songwriter, actress and model through a personal lens. Read on to know more.

INDepth by FTC is an ongoing exploration of all the uncut diamonds that are making their mark in India's growing cultural community.

When you hear the name Kavya Trehan, the first thing that comes to mind is the image of the multifaceted creative individual who boasts titles such as musician, actress, model, and artist.

On a journey to truly get to know the person behind all the extraordinary, creative feats, FTC caught up with the artist to know her story, through a personal lens.

On my video call with the musician, I am immediately met with a warm smile and an apology in advance in case of any network issues. Kavya exudes calm and a sense of determination that is evident from the very first words she speaks. Throughout our conversation, she is matter-of-fact and self-assured, yet humble, when talking about her journey and accomplishments, maintaining a cheerful disposition that doesn't make you feel like the precursor for the conversation is a formal interview.

Between getting slightly distracted by her cat, looking for her laptop charger, and discussing the inconveniences of construction and rewiring (refer to the aforementioned network issues), we ease into dialogue and what the year has been like for her.

2020 has been a whirlwind for everybody that has no doubt changed lives and routines for the coming perpetuity, so of course one of my first questions to the musician is what her quarantine routine looks like.

She’s quick to reveal a well-charted out yet dynamic routine that consists of enjoying the domesticities of life - waking up, making her bed, preparing breakfast for herself and her sister, making time for dedicated meditation and reading, along with attending a 4 pm piano class all the while maintaining a strict no technology/gadgets before she's touched her morning coffee!

Apart from the social restrictions lockdown set upon the general public, it was no surprise that major industries collapsed and took a back seat - music gigs and events not being an exception either. The singer-songwriter explains how the stagnant nature of the music industry in this period ensured the absence of any gigs, with however many remaining being “all soul but no entertainment" and the havoc it wreaked on her mental health to some extent.

“I think the pandemic was bad for all of us, there is no music industry, there were no gigs. Everyone was creatively challenging themselves. In the midst of all of it, I was thinking what do I do - it started off with this pressure of entertaining and uplifting spirits. As a musician, I felt like 'I am doomed if I don't entertain, it's my responsibility to create content', it was very unhealthy."

Kavya Trehan

It was then the idea for Trehan's Instagram live series 'I Draw, You Paint' came to life representing a moment of togetherness without the pressure of guest listing and being free of cost as well. She further elaborates on how the series was a wonderful way to share her music, talk to people, and connect with several different individuals spanning across backgrounds and professions.

Diving into the past, it is surprising to learn that the venue-selling out artist does not have formal music training. However, a holistic environment growing up, which included an alternative schooling system, along with being surrounded by creative individuals like her mother and sister Khyati, all had a major influence on her gravitation towards the musical/artistic side of life.

“I think I come from a bunch of extremely creative amazing women in my household. My mom and my sister, even my cats are quite creative, they radiate that energy. I am a musician, an actor, a self-therapeutic painter, and a lot of different things. All of it started at quite a young age."

Kavya Trehan

Further expanding on her schooling (be it the alternative schooling system she attended initially or her foray into the National School of Drama and various summer school programs), the artist reveals how the creative environment only bolstered the acceptance of abstract philosophies like the existence of only uniqueness rather than concepts of right and wrong - something that configured her mindset about thinking creatively and not feeling judged about the same.

"A lot of what I do is mainly because of the schooling that I have received in my youth. In the formative years for every child, you require a very stimulating environment, and I think I had that at the school I went to in New Delhi, called Mirambika. I think the creativity aspect was instilled in me by ideologies about celebrating individuals, meaning that there is no right or wrong, there is just unique. There is a sense of uninhibition that I have been able to imbibe in my choices because of my schooling."

Kavya Trehan

Kavya's early memories of enjoying and delving into music began with having to compose original songs about various festivals like Eid, Hannukah, and Diwali for school. She reveals how this very creative outlet and encouragement led her to further discovering her passion for music, recalling one of the pivotal memories of performing at a venue in New Delhi at an open mic event.

"There was this place in GK in Delhi, and they were having an open mic and there was a guy doing comedy and singing. I knew like 4 chords but I wanted to sing so I sang about the audience. That was where I realised that it's important to put yourself in a place where judgment can happen, and be okay with it. I liked the limelight, I was very comfortable and I enjoyed singing and interacting with people. Even now, I’m breaking that barrier that always exists between the artist and the audience, I like involving the audience in my performances as well."

Kavya Trehan

While her stepping-stones, education, and initiation into the music world are embedded with projects and collaborations like MOSKO or Kavya x Chaz, she states that KAVYA, the individual is simply a musical representation of her freedom to do whatever she wants, how ever she wants, and with whoever she wants.

"I learnt so many things from the people that I have played music with. These were the projects I was a part of at an age where I had crazy rebellious energy, I was watching different types of things like Manga. I was a lot more comfortable leaning and depending on others. But now, there is a sense of freedom and a sense of scare that I like."

Kavya Trehan

She discloses how her infancy in the music industry allowed her to explore her interests, learning and depending on others, but acknowledges that as time has come to pass, her growth as an individual allows her to soar with freedom, accepting and embracing the fear that comes alongside it. This freedom, combined with factors like financial independence from an entity like a band, has pushed her to undertake solo projects for at least the next 3 to 5 years.

"I’ve grown up, and that has left me alone, wanting to tread this path solo. With that also comes this excitement - you don't have to wait for anyone to start a jam session, you don't have to keep splitting your finances. Very few people talk about the money factor of music. It is really expensive to have a band or even a duo. So, ergonomically and economically, it's a very practical thing for me to do. Plus, I am not answerable to anyone and I have found my voice."

Kavya Trehan

She further elaborates,

“We can also acknowledge the fact that when Mosko was there, the band culture was on a large scale. One unconsciously goes with what is presented. And now with electronic music, if one wants to be a solo artist it is possible. You can create guitar, drum samples on your own. It is an evolution that I’m trying to flow with."

Kavya Trehan

When inquiring about her influences, it is revealed Kavya’s inspirations are just as dynamic as her skillset, continuously developing and changing with each new music festival she attends, friendships she makes and the tracks they share with her. One constant, however, is the influence of emotional music on her with artists like Majid Jordan, James Blake, Emilie Nicolas, and Zola Blood being constant sources to look up to.

She also reveals her desire to increase her understanding of the language of music, explaining she has started learning music formally - her regular piano lessons being one such approach - to help understand and be able to better morph the main instrument she uses, her voice.

"While I do have the freedom to create without a structure guiding me, there are times when I play something on the piano but I don't even know what it is. At the end of the day, just knowing the piano would have given me a language to understand my creations a little better. Music is a language that you must learn because it allows you to retain things and it allows you to compose even if you don't have the instrument. Music is the doctorate for the rest of my life, I do feel it is important. I now want to be a little more sophisticated in the approach to learn the system and the chaos and then make the right balance."

Kavya Trehan

The singer's creative process is quite reminiscent of being in a state of zen - of being in the "absolute void", as she calls it. When emotionally stuck, Kavya reveals she tries her best not to be influenced by her environment and often relies on a household decluttering process that ensues in order to clean, not only the physical, but mental space as well.

"It takes a lot of discipline prior to the creation, and the routine you inculcate needs to become a ritual - be it an album, EP or a single. There is a lot of decluttering involved. For every song that has been written, there has been a house declutter process for it. There is also the binging of several youtube tutorials when I make new music and there's a lot of back and forth with my sister - I have trust issues when it comes to my music, her’s is the only judgment I can take with a pinch of salt!"

Kavya Trehan

When redirected towards the other avenues of creative work she operates in, the artist tells us about how the nascency of the music industry in India has enforced a sense of co-dependency on acting and modeling because they are what allow her to pursue the expensive passion that is music. However, while it may seem bittersweet, pursuing other things to support her music career, Kavya dismisses the notion by stating she enjoys all the facets.

"It's a super balanced system for me. I am codependent on the acting and the modeling side because they practically allow me to pursue an extremely expensive passion - your gear, your plug-ins, your travel, your jams, the entire investment that goes in is so much more. I need to survive with acting and modeling, and they are extremely objective decisions. I am trying my best to make sure I’m an average painter and a decent actor and giving in 110% whenever required."

Kavya Trehan

The holistic nature of her career prospects, and the audio-visual nature she possesses as an individual, allow her to get the most out of everything from auditions to shoots while providing her with a plethora of networking avenues.

On her upcoming plan and what the future holds for her and her art form, the artist reveals she had an amazing opportunity to partake in a compilation called ‘Chalo Artists’, with her track 'Underscore' featuring alongside artists like PCRD and Riz Ahmed in what was her first philanthropic experience. She also talks about her recently released track 'Little Lie' made in collaboration with fellow artist Pranay Parti, mixed by Ishaan Gandhi and mastered by Press Play Studios, exclusively for the Stamp the Wax Advent Calendar compilation.

A venture that is associated with several NGOs, the STW Advent Calender is a 24-track digital compilation (one for every day of the Advent) where all proceeds from sales are used to raise money for charity. Several artists, including Trehan herself, donate an unreleased track which is announced each advent day with a short review on the cause's website and streamed on Stamp The Wax's Soundcloud and YouTube as well as available to buy on Bandcamp for a pay what-you-want donation.

"Little Lie is a fun track and a different direction - it makes me happy that nothing confines me in a box when it comes to genres. In the coming future, there are some international collaborations that are coming up and 2021 will also see a 4 track EP titled 'Know Me Better'. The setlist of it is a chronological representation of the relationship between me and music and I'm excited to also be releasing tiny music films in collaboration with various filmmakers."

Kavya Trehan

On her take on the current culture, Kavya concludes with,

"I think the culture right now is quite mixed, it's the celebration of various mediums, arts coming together and what comes out of it. I’ve seen a lot of people realising the importance that rests in respect for another person and their form of art. I don't think I’ll be surprised if tomorrow an artist and a musician collaborate for the culture and make the culture boundless where the world unites in this universal language which keeps us all in awe."

Kavya Trehan

With an inspiring outlook and musical offerings that truly stand out, Kavya's journey so far has been one of a kind. Head over to her official Instagram page to check out her 'I Draw, You Paint' series and listen to her music on all major streaming services.

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