To start us off, hello once again, my name is Ranjani. I’m a rising junior at Johns Hopkins University studying and pursuing a career in biomedical engineering. Although I am extremely happy with my choice of major and the concept of spending my life in STEM, I am equally enthused by my choice to pursue creative endeavors, mainly photography. My journey as a photographer started at a mere 8 years old with a DSLR camera my dad got for sale at Costco. Little did I know, this same camera would stick by my side for the next 11 years of my life.
The interests of a girl navigating her way through childhood are rather fickle and I found myself to be no exception. However, time after time I found myself gravitating to photography. Starting with closeups of the flowers in our garden and long summer nights spent on my patio trying to capture the essence of the moon, I finally arrived at portrait photography halfway through high school. A lack of experience layered with a lack of confidence led me to pursue my portrait photography only half-heartedly. The portraits I take capture my view of the world and what if my subjects don’t like how I view them?
Finally, during my senior year of high school, it came time to get my senior photos taken. However, as I lived in a predominantly caucasian area of Ohio, many of the local photographers did not know how to edit brown skin and ended up making many of my peers ashy or too white. I ended up taking my own senior photos as well as those of my friends and more importantly I realized how important it is to have representation in every field.
Now in college, I finally took the leap to start working part time as a freelance photographer around campus. What began as a few graduation photos for some close friends turned into shoots for many of the student organizations on campus and I eventually got the opportunity to shoot at my first dance tournament. As I see growth in my abilities I’ve come to realize photography isn’t just a simple “client wants photo, you give them photo”. Photography is about creating a feeling. Although anyone can learn the technical aspects of how to take and edit a photo, what makes every photo unique is the photographer herself. I put my own creative vision and my own perspective of the world through every click of the shutter and every late night illuminated by Adobe Lightroom. I hope that as a photographer I can show the world the visions of a South Asian girl and I can create my vision to include a diverse array of subjects with equally diverse backgrounds. I hope that I can be part of the representation I once found to be lacking.
Hi I’m Sanjana (aka Sonny) and I’m a rising senior at Johns Hopkins University! I grew up in Bangalore for almost 7 years and then moved to the Boston area afterwards. I started learning Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam in late 2007, and I am immensely grateful for both. My musical background not only honed my singing skills but also helped me recently start mixing songs. On the other hand, my dance experience helped me as I joined JHU Zinda my freshman year of college and Blue Jay Bhangra the year after.
My roots in classical music and classical dance have shaped me to the person I am today, and I am so thankful for my family, Gurus, and friends who have supported me throughout all of these journeys. The move from India to America was tough. In elementary and in some years of middle school, I was made fun of for having an accent, eating Indian food, dressing in Indian clothes, not knowing subtle American customs, etc. Joining music class and dance class helped me realize that I am proud of all the great things about my heritage. I found beauty in the ragas in Carnatic music, the mudras of Bharatanatyam, and everything in between. Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam helped me become a proud South Asian woman.
My Gurus and my family are part of why I kept pursuing them while growing my artistic palette in college. As I’ve grown up, I’ve been more and more humbled to have learnt these arts and to apply them in my pursuits today. I hope that I can keep learning, keep performing, and keep cultivating these arts so that I can one day teach others. I’m excited to keep at it in the future and encourage others to discover and treasure South Asian arts like I did.
If you want to see clips from my Arangetram or if you want to listen to any of my mixes, DM me! I am also “SonnyRBeatz” on SoundCloud, but I have not uploaded my mixes there yet.Lastly, my very first mix has been featured in Agnee 2020 Collaboration Mixtape (I’ve reposted it on my SoundCloud). Check it out because there are 21 other incredible mixes from 21 talented DJs/producers!
My name is Manasi, and I’m a dancer and music producer/DJ! I am studying chemical and biomolecular engineering, and I will be a junior at JHU in the fall. Since joining a Bollywood Fusion team (JHU JOSH) in college, I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to dozens of music and dance styles. Joining a fusion team also provided me access to a huge national circuit filled with other dancers and DJs with similar identities to mine. Music and dance have always been connected for me, and so as I got into fusing different dance styles, I was intrigued by fusing music genres as well. I have been making mashups and remixes for the last year and half, and I’ve been inspired by so many creatives in the South Asian community who bring together different cultures and genres through music.
Growing up a dancer and from a musical family, I was always listening to music and was encouraged to be creative. I love how music transcends borders and cultures, and especially how DJs and producers frequently sample segments from different genres within their songs. Being South Asian has inspired me to draw from the rich musical history of Bollywood, classical music, and even devotional songs. Listening to dozens of different South Asian genres, particularly ones I did not grow up with, really opened me up to the vast differences in South Asian cultures, languages, and traditions, and how
seamlessly they can blend together. Some of my favorite mixes are ones with unexpected genre and language combinations.
I actually got into mixing music in an unconventional way–my dance team needed some segments put together, and I decided to try it out and learn about the softwares involved in mixing music. I didn’t do much with it until I sustained a pretty nasty knee injury that prevented me from dancing. I was desperate to stay connected to my team and to dance, so I decided to continue learning about music theory and how different songs fit together. After tons of experimentation (and a lot of free time), I posted some mixes on my Soundcloud and made some producer friends who have supported me and taught me new techniques. I have since made the official competition mix for my dance team and a promotional mixtape for Dil Se, joined forces with up and coming artists in a circuit collaboration mixtape, and made background music concepts for a friend’s make-up videos.
My current project is working with other creatives in the South Asian community to produce an album of mixes revolving around mental health, in an attempt to foster conversation about difficult topics in mental health. I am still unsure of what exactly I want my music to mean, but I know that I find joy and take pride in creating musical concepts for my friends and team members, and would love to continue those projects on a larger scale.
Click the link to view my soundcloud page where I post my work and find inspiration from other producers! Here is my most recent mixtape (July 2020) featuring a variety of musical genres and languages
My name is Tanvi Narvekar! I’m from the Bay Area in California. I’m a rising sophomore majoring in Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University this fall. My creative passion is singing and songwriting. I have been composing and writing music since I was around 12 years old, and I usually play with my guitar and occasionally the piano. Music has always been a creative outlet for me, and I love being able to express my feelings and make it into something beautiful. At Hopkins, I would go to the music practice rooms and just play music for hours as a break from studying.
My journey in music started when I started learning Hindustani classical singing when I was 5 years old. This is where I was able to get an introduction to the music world apart from just listening to music. Although I did like Hindustani classical, I found a greater passion in writing and singing my own songs in English. When I was 13, I was given a guitar, which allowed for me to take my songwriting to another level. Since then, I have been working on my music along with amaturely producing and performing at small venues. I hope to move to better production mediums and also continue to perform. My dream is to work with some amazing producers and release a professionally made album.
Being a South Asian, I have found myself struggling to find representation in the American music industry growing up. There are some South Asian artists in the field now, but still, we are a minority. I find myself doubting the idea of ever gaining recognition for my music because of my South Asian identity. I also don’t really have any connections to the music industry. I worry about never being able to work with a record label and make a full album.
Although I am pre-med and truly love medicine, I could also see myself as a musician. This clash has caused some internal conflict, as I can’t imagine my life without music. So, for now, I have told myself to continue studying to be a physician, while also pursuing music on the side. That way, I can pursue both of my passions without having to give one up. I hope to inspire anyone to pursue their passions along with pursuing a different professional career. It is possible to have two passions. Here is a link to my Soundcloud page.
Hi! I’m Ananya, and I’m a rising senior at Hopkins from Solon, OH studying International Studies and Public Health. I first started Bharatanatyam when I was 4, and learned Carnatic singing throughout middle and high school, alongside playing piano for the last 16 years. While I was preparing for my arangetram when I was a sophomore in high school, I broke my leg, which led to me having to stop dancing due to the long physical therapy road that my fracture created. Since then, shaped by my education in both South Indian music/dance, as well as western piano, I became passionate about creating
platforms and opportunities for fusion music and dance endeavors for community outreach.
I often don’t identify myself as a creative because it’s been so long since I’ve been actively dancing, but as someone who was raised as a creative, I’m passionate about creating opportunities for other creatives to showcase their talent and for communities to learn more about the South Asian arts. This was a really instrumental piece for me in helping to found Dil Se, the Hopkins South Asian Fusion Dance Competition, when I was a sophomore in college. As someone who due to injury, lost the opportunity to continue to be trained in my art form, being able to organize events, especially Dil Se, has allowed me to stay connected to my training as a dancer, while also creating opportunities for the community to learn more about the South Asian arts and have the opportunity to engage with them, even if they, like me, aren’t able to participate in them fully and regularly.
Hi everyone! My name is Niki Trivedi. I’m from the greater New York City area, and I currently study Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Although professionally I am pursuing a career in STEM, I’ve always found myself engaged in creative pursuits on my own time. Throughout my childhood, I’ve immersed myself in the fields of fashion, music, and film; however, as I grow older, I find myself increasingly consumed by photography. My budding interest in photography stems from my original obsession with films, which I believed to be the best medium to
capture the essence of culture. This belief held true for me until I read French filmmaker, Jean-Luc Godard, described film as “truth 24 times a second.” Since then, I’ve interpreted Godard’s quote to understand that what I most admired from films was actually the photographs, precisely 24 per second. Photography has now become an important medium for me to connect to various cultures, including my own. Being a South Asian creative has allowed me to explore my roots and further grow my identity as an Indian-American. I ultimately hope to be able to build upon my photography skills to one day follow suit of the many talented street photographers before me and eventually represent my personal experiences as an Indian-American.