INDepth: With Kavya Trehan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
She further elaborates,
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.
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.
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.
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.
On her take on the current culture, Kavya concludes with,
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.