For someone who is only 18 years-old, Rika speaks matter-of-factly about where she sees her musical span in a year’s time. “Hopefully big,”she laughs, “I’m just going to reach as high as I can: charting really well, selling out tours, and all of that jazz.” You’d be forgiven for being slightly taken aback by this; such confidence is surprising, especially taking into account her age, and relatively small output, but considering the success of the newcomer’s latest offering, “On My Way”, this self-assurance might just be warranted. Jovial hooks, trap drums and Major Lazor-esque warped vocals come together to create a sound so infectious that I keep having to stop myself from humming her music as we wait for our coffee.
“I think a lot,” Rika replies when I ask how much she has grown as an artist since starting out. “And obviously because I’m so young there’s still a lot more growing to do, which I’m really excited about. At the beginning I was a bit of a people pleaser, but now I’m trying to find my own sound, and make songs for myself, and I think that’s really important as an artist.”
Young as she may be, Rika’s already on her second career path, having trained to become a professional tennis player until she was nine years-old, and even ranking in her region. It was through the inheritance of her mum’s music taste (the millennial oozes out of her as she explains that “she always used to play really old bands like ABBA and The Carpenters”) and a love of performing in school plays with her brother, she discovered her knack for music. In turn, she’s developed that into her sound, epitomising modern pop, powered by dance beats and catchy hooks with choreographed music videos to boot. The fact that MNEK would be her dream collaborator — “he’s such an amazing songwriter, he’s sick” — solidifies her slot in the new alternative-gone-mainstream, storming the charts with emotion laden pop.
No stranger to hard work with the sports training behind her, Rika’s armed with all the tools she needs for success, importantly though, she’s looking beyond record-sales stats. As a half-Indian, half-Serbian woman, raised and residing in London, diversity and representation are discussions close to her heart, and topics she hopes to amplify in her industry. “I don’t think there are enough Asian pop stars,” she explains, reflecting on inclusivity in her industry, one that’s still overtly Western-centric. “We’re definitely getting a lot more of them, especially from the K-Pop side, from East Asia. But as a South Asian, I really want to be someone to represent India. I’m really proud to be Indian, and have that heritage with me.”
It’s humbling to hear this from someone still at the dawn of their career but, over the course of the interview, I’ve almost come to expect this from Rika. “I feel like we have a voice,” she continues, “and we should use it correctly. It’s really powerful, especially being an influence on a whole generation, we need to make sure we’re raising them right, to make sure that there’s a positive message, and they’re growing up with the correct mind-set. We have the platform and we should use it correctly.”
Taken from the Winter 2018/19 issue; out now and available to buy here.