A Symphony of Stories
By Rivita Goyle
Follow the music
I have been fascinated by music longer than I can remember. Music — making it and listening to it— has never failed to keep all of my brain functioning and happy. When people asked me how I found music, though, I didn’t really have an answer other than this:
I didn’t find music; music found me.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to live in four different countries, five cities, and nine rooms. In each of these places, I created music almost every day in some form or the other. Whether it was a jingle I made at 19 to remember the names of different muscles in the human body, or a song I wrote to remind myself that there is light at the end of the tunnel, I have spent every day of my life submerged in music, with or without my realization of it.
I convinced myself that a career in music was impossible and I should go the safe route—become a doctor. Before I knew it, I was wearing a lab coat dissecting a human body in the anatomy lab. Though I make light of it right now, it was quite a dark period in my life. I learned many hard lessons and my heart shattered almost every day, not being able to follow my true passion. Looking back, I realize now that it had been the universe sending me a message to walk on the right path carved for me. So two years later, I finally listened and dropped out of medical school. The rest is history— since then, I have worked on writing music each day as if it were my last.
I moved to London where I studied Popular Music Performance at BIMM, where I learned to incorporate my culture into my “sound.” The more I wrote, the more I brought inflections from the East into my music. In 2014, I released “Fly Away” and since then I have released music consistently every year.
My time in London quickly came to an end and while I was heartbroken, I also knew that the move was something I had to do to give my music a chance. I moved back to India where I started teaching music at a local music school. I worked there for a little time before I decided to spend time only making music. I locked myself in my studio and spent the next year just working on crunching out new music and releasing content. I released my single “Silent Nights.” I wrote, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered this song—it was an incredible feeling. I studied day and night, tried different techniques and experimented. From this point on I started getting hired to work on other projects. My mom and I teamed up to create some real amazing artwork for the song: ethnic with an attitude.
The next thing was, of course, music videos. I went out on a limb and took a risk: we bought a DSLR camera with a flip screen and installed Final Cut. My music video, “Listen,” brought together people from all over the world to participate—including amazing dance group Mahamaya Group of Fusion Dance. It also went on to be nominated and screened at many film festivals and also won an award at the Indian Music Video Awards. My only intention with this project was to promote unity in diversity and it went on to thrive because of all the love we put into it.
Since then, I have released my debut EP “Tribal Love,” each song of which was supported by a music video and audio-visual experience. I loved making videos and that led to my enrollment at Syracuse University in the Masters Audio Arts program.
While I pursued the program, I was selected to go on a fully funded trip to South Africa with the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement to work on a journalistic project and capture stories of local people in Grahamstown. Running around with microphones in Grahamstown, I stumbled upon some truly amazing musicians there. Collaborating with and listening to the music of these exceptional artists changed my life. One of them was rapper/producer Asemahle who I co-wrote a song with. I was determined to get a good quality recording of the song, so I ended up transforming the hotel conference room into a studio with the help of my field gear! This led to the release of the song “Love Again” and the launch of my project, The Traveling Studio, which focuses on recording and documenting the music of people from around the world who do not have access to studios and whose music goes unheard.
A year after we met, Asemahle went from his shack in Grahamstown to work as a teaching assistant in Port Elizabeth. He will be joining Rhodes University’s teaching program this year. It is amazing the miracles that can happen just by believing first and foremost in yourself and then in others. I believe as a music producer 90 percent of my job is already done when I believe.
Today, I am working on multiple projects, many of which have cultural expressions. Besides making music professionally, I am continuing to teach and meet amazing people. My next single, “Her Ghost,” coming out next month, explores the extremes of emotions I have felt during the past few months. Even though I am an extremely positive person there are times when I feel removed from myself. The lyrics “She comes and goes, where no one knows, she comes and goes, now I am her ghost” really iterate that feeling. I look at this song as an anthem to cutting yourself some slack and chilling because we are all kids at heart, and we all need a break.
I sing, I write, I’ve been to places that I never thought I’d explore, I make friends, I play. But without music, I would never be this way. My advice to anyone with a passion is to follow your heart: follow where it leads you. Things might seem impossible now and there might be people telling you your dreams are never going to come true, but without action there is no attraction. So do it once and see how good it feels. Wet your feet. Then do it again and again until things start to make sense. Surround yourself with other people following their dreams fearlessly. It will be an amazing journey.
Rivita Goyle is a graduate student studying Audio Arts at Syracuse University.