Showing us how powerful optimism and hard work combine rather beautifully, Agaaze kindly sat down with us recently to chat about his classical upbringing, tasty berries and how grateful he is to do what he loves on For You.
Hello there Agaaze. Thanks so much for chatting with us here at A&R Factory. Please let us know where in the world you are today and what do you usually have for breakfast?
Agathya: Hey A&R, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, I’m truly grateful 🙂 My name is Agathya Visveswaran, and I work under the artist name “Agaaze” (Instagram: @agaaze). I am 20 years old and was born in Rochester, New York. I currently attend the University of Michigan, so right now I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For breakfast each morning I usually have a protein shake- 2 cups almond milk, 2 scoops vanilla whey protein, and a couple of handfuls of berries (gains!)
Please tell us how the creative process worked while making your new project, For You?
Agathya: “For You” actually started based on a real-life experience. In early 2022, I went on a date with a girl, and she just so happened to be wearing a red dress that night. The night was calm, and nothing really came of it afterwards, however, the vivid imagery of ‘the pretty girl in the red dress’ really struck a chord with me. A couple days later I was working with a simple 4-bar loop of music that I made, and, in basically one-sitting, I wrote the entirety of “Cinnamon Paradise” over that loop. I had always wanted to write a love album, and in that moment, I knew I was ready. I expanded upon the theme and setting of “Cinnamon Paradise” and, like a kid in a sandbox, I basically just let my imagination run free. I thought about my past experiences, what my future might be, and really dove deep into thinking about everything in my life that I loved. I went on to conceptualize the full story and write down almost all the lyrics to the entire album, before I made the rest of the music. “Cinnamon Paradise” was released as the only single off “For You”, and I still find it really cool how I was able to take just a couple hours of my life and turn it into an entire album.
What kind of music/which artists did you listen to while growing up?
Agathya: I listened to all kinds of music growing up- my mom used to play an Indian guitar-like instrument called the ‘veena’, and my dad was a jazz drummer. I started learning classical guitar at the age of six, and because of my guitar teacher’s unique music taste, I was exposed to a lot of Flamenco and Brazilian guitar pieces. As I got older, I started listening to a ton of rap. Besides Kendrick Lamar, I mostly listened to old-school hip-hop/90s rap, as I was drawn to the lyricism and poetry over anything else. The biggest shift in my music taste came when I discovered Tame Impala right before my senior year of high school (in 2019). I was blown away by the intricacy and attention to detail that he brought to electronic music. This opened me up to a whole new world of digitized and production-based music, and I started enjoying artists such as Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator. Now, I truly enjoy everything. I started a new routine at the beginning of 2022 where I try to listen to at least one album that I haven’t heard before every single day, and I’ve been fairly consistent with that so far.
How did you get started in music and have you been involved in other projects before?
Agathya: As previously mentioned, I started learning classical guitar at the age of six. I would go on to take lessons in jazz guitar, the trumpet, and even in South Indian Carnatic vocals. I have performed guitar at various venues in Rochester, such as the Rochester Jazz Festival and Rochester Lilac Festival, and even played live on WXXI radio in my junior year of high school. I didn’t start making my own music until my freshman year of college. I started releasing music under “Agaaze” in early 2021, and released my debut 7-song EP, “A Portal Inside” in December of 2021. I haven’t looked back since. Agaaze is a solo project, as I
take care of writing, recording, producing, and mixing all on my own (with the help of my friend Zach, @zachwallismusic, for my final master’s)
How do you approach everything needed to be successful in life and in your chosen career?
Agathya: In terms of my approach to life, honestly, it’s just trial and error. I do my best to always pursue what I love, give it my 200%, and then use my mistakes to learn and grow as a person. In terms of success as an artist, it’s a little tougher because success is very subjective. Some may say that I’m unsuccessful because of how many streams my music gets, or how much money I’ve made from my music. Others might say that I’m successful simply by having the courage to release my own music. I guess I try to find a happy medium between the two, to where I’m proud of myself for releasing music, but also maintain my drive to hustle and promote it. At the end of the day, I will never let a thirst for material success influence my art. I plan on graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree that is not music related, so I can support myself financially until, hopefully one day, I can make music for a living.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be and why?
Agathya: In an ideal world, creativity and uniqueness would result in more success in the music industry. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will ever be the case because, money is the name of the game in business. Apps such as TikTok are cool for helping some independent artists, but they drive many others to use a formulaic approach, just for a shot at 15 seconds of fame. This results in the oversaturation of the same type of music, which sucks. If I can maybe inspire just a couple other young artists out there to create art that’s true to them, instead of making music for money and clout, that would be amazing.
Last, what advice do you have for new musicians just starting out in this fickle game?
Agathya: My advice to other artists is to make music from a place of love. As the great Rick Rubin emphasizes, ‘you are the audience’. Create art that you resonate with, enjoy, and love, so that when you look back, you can be proud of yourself for all you have accomplished. Doubt and fear live rent free in my head. I try not to think of what other people might say, or whether I will ever be able to make a comfortable living off my music. It’s an impossible task. Yet, when it’s 5 AM- the birds are quiet, the world is still, and I’m all alone in my room, listening back to what I have been working on all night… a gentle smile comes across my face. Hell, sometimes even tears, because I just fucking made that. For a couple seconds, all my worries wash away. Make music For You.
Interview by Llewelyn Screen