For Indian-origin, UK-based pop singer/songwriter RIKA, music is a way to bridge the gap between her heritage and current situation. “I never shy away from incorporating my heritage into my music. In my track Hold on to Me I used Bollywood-like melodies in my pre-chorus to reflect what I used to grow up around, and I even sing Punjabi in my track Left to Love,” she revealed while talking about what her music means to her. With over 20M sound streams over multiple platforms, the 20-year old is well on her way to the mainstream space… with glittery bindis and stunning red hair in tow. We wanted to catch up with the stunner and talk about music, beauty and what it means to represent Asian artists on the global space, check it out...
BB: Give us an insight into baby RIKA — what was your childhood like?
RIKA: I wasn’t always the fashionista I am now. It took me a while to become confident in my skin. As 99% of teenagers are, I felt body conscious while it was changing. While other girls were wearing wired bras at 13, I had barely started. But what it taught me is that everyone is leading their individual race and you will come into your own in time.
BB: Give us an insight into your musical beginnings and 'lewk' in the pre-redhead era!
I started singing when I was 9 and joined the school choir as a way to spend more time with friends, but what it left me with was a passion for singing, which will never leave me. I then started doing musical theatre and loved being on stage and performing. I couldn’t get enough. I had dabbled in songwriting since I was 10, but the real genesis came when I was 16. One of the first songs I had written (No Need)became my first ever single as a pop star. I shot the video in my old school and it felt like the perfect transition from my old life into the new one I started to lead. The rest is history.
BB: For readers who may not be familiar with your work, can you give us an idea about your 'sound'?
RIKA: My sound is cutting edge pop and with a personal touch. I always write or co-write 100% of my music so everything you hear from me is me. My debut EP Doses is a project telling the up and downs of my teenage years and what I needed to hear to get through them. My new material is going to be more personal than ever and I am so excited to release more music.
BB: Being an Indian-origin woman in the international pop space, did you have to worry about meeting any set industry beauty standards?
RIKA: Honestly, being an Asian in this space is very daunting. There aren’t many Asians in this space. I grew up with no Asians in the mainstream music market and didn’t really know why. We are talented and strong and a force to be reckoned with. It fills me with joy seeing people like me winning. I do what I do because I don’t want a little girl to not have representation in the western media. She deserves someone like her to resonate with.
BB: Pop music has always been big on an artist's aesthetic. How did you come up with your signature look?
RIKA: I think a signature look is what makes someone most distinguishable from anyone else. It’s more than a hairstyle. It’s the way you hold yourself when you walk in a room, the way you laugh, how you treat others. All of these are a part of your aesthetic.
I feel by being yourself you are your own signature. I love using bindis and bangles and mixing them with high fashion couture, or just being comfortable in sweats and a tee. But I’m the same person in whatever I wear and I think that’s the distinguishing point.
BB: Let's talk about the striking red hair - tell us about your hair muses and how you maintain such a tricky colour?(Stained pillowcase stories are allowed!)
RIKA: I was so inspired by Rihanna in 2012. I’ve always been a fan of her Her iconic red hair. Last year, I was bored with my brown hair and without telling anyone, I dyed it red. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Having red hair is very high maintenance. Red is the pigment which washes out the most and it requires me to re-dye my hair every week. My bathroom has a lot of red dye in random places!
BB: Being in the entertainment industry is stressful, sometimes the signs of which show up on your skin! Even though your skin at 20 can feel unbothered, give us your popstar skincare routine!
RIKA: What I’ve learnt is that the more time you spend loving your skin, the more your skin will love you. Different things and products work for everyone, but for me, what works best is a great exfoliant (the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant is HEAVENLY). Also having a good toner which won’t hurt your skin, and using SPF.
BB: Give us the story behind your signature red lip (from your ‘Left to Love' video and Insta feed). Plus, some makeup trends that have caught your eye?
RIKA: The looks for that video are quite neutral so I decided to match my red hair with a bold glossy red lip to really bring attention to what I was singing in the song. I love that video and the fact that we made it from our phones in the lockdown was so much fun!
I’ve been loving soap brows, where you tame your brows with a bar of soap because it's been one of the only solutions where my brows are combed and look nice without looking too dark and thick. I also have been loving a cat eyeliner at the moment — I love how it accentuates my eyes!
BB: It's time for a fun beauty rapid-fire, tell us what's cool for you right now:
Glitter lids or intense colour fill
RIKA: Glitter lids!!!
Matte lippies or dramatic gloss
RIKA: I’ve always been a glossy girl. I love the look and apparently, my hair loves it just as much.
Contouring (yay or nay)
RIKA: I’ve been loving contouring with blush lately. It makes me feel like a fairy.
A full beat face or sheer makeup moment
RIKA: Less is more for me! A dewy light looks all the way.
Carefully crafted sharp winged liner or just winging it
RIKA: I’m a perfectionist so if I’m doing a liner, I don’t care how long I’m spending on it, it’s gotta be sharp!
BB: Lastly, we are in the midst of the festive season! What does your festive glam look like, and yes we wanna know about the desi garb as well!
RIKA: Since Diwali is coming up, I love going all out colour wise. Something to match my sari for sure! Wearing a bindi with some rhinestones around my eyebrows really makes me feel festive. This Christmas, I’m thinking of doing a look with different eyeshadows on each eye, one red and one green! It’s a weird time at the moment, especially with the UK going into a second lockdown, so if you don’t feel like doing a look you don’t have to! Take care of yourself this festive season!