Meet the STAR Finalists: Samica Jhangiani
Kollaboration Boston’s Samica Jhangiani, singer-songwriter
I’m from San Francisco, California, born and raised here. Then I decided that since I was born and raised in California, I wanted to explore what else is out there. That’s why I applied to Boston University and at BU I was just a confused child, I literally studied everything. I tried dentistry, bio, and then junior year I’m just going to business because it’s the most vague thing. Then I finally got the degree, made my parents happy, and somehow convinced them to give me time to try and do the whole music thing.
How did you hear about Kollaboration?
At BU my roommate founded the BU International Society, and asked me to come to her show. So I played a few songs, and two people from BU Taiwanese American Student Association found me and asked me to play their show. When I went to that show, and it was a collab with Kollaboration Boston. I won that and then I met Jane (Pak) and she told me about Kollaboration, the whole community, and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. There’s so many people that are so similar to me, that have the same kind of story. I just fell in love with it and wanted to be a part of it. Jane invited me to come play at the event they were having and then they nominated me to come represent Boston in LA. It was crazy, everything was a domino effect, one after the other. I was like, “Wow, this is something I should really be a part of.”
What does it mean to you’re going to perform at STAR?
It’s so funny, I was just telling my mom yesterday that this is a really big deal. It was just so new to me, I researched so much about it, and it’s a big deal so I’m super excited by it. I feel so #blessed to be the one to represent Boston, I have to much of my pride there, meeting all the people there, and getting a chance to be a part of it was just a big deal. In Boston I would do little things here or there, but I’ve never been a part of a huge competition, it’s definitely my first time feeling like I’m competing against so many people. It’s a bit nerve wracking but it’s also a bit exhilarating.
How did you get into music?
My sister sings as well so we’ve grown up with music. Both of my grandmothers sing, so they really taught us how to sing Indian music and then we picked up English music being here. When I was really young, I had this super baby guitar, so music has always been with me growing up. Even in high school my thing was choir, I was the cool choir kid, I did musicals.
What are some of your influences?
Both my parents are Indian, my mom grew up in Chicago, and my grandparents also live here. So my grandma sings all the time, in the temples and stuff like that, so she’s so good! I wish I could be that good! She sings strictly classical Indian music, stuff like Bollywood, and she taught that to me and my sister. What I try to do, since I am both, is mix the Hindi and Punjabi lyrics with English so it represents me and both cultures. I have a bunch of singles written but never played for anyone, or put them out there yet. I play quite a few of my originals when I write them, and if there’s a show I always like to mix the two.
What’s the best way to describe your style?
I would say probably low-key rebellious. Really low-key rebellious. If you meet me in person, I’m super bubbly and stuff. But because as an Asian American you have to follow a certain path that’s set up for you— engineering, doctor, and especially in the tech world, you become a computer science major— that’s just standard what you do. I feel like I am the only one that’s not on a paved path. I’m making my own path doing music. It’s hard to tell your parents, “Hey you just spend 200 grand, but I’m going to go try and pursue this and see what happens.”
Why do you think representation is important in the arts?
No one really listens to Asian American music sunless you are Asian American. I think that’s just because there isn’t really much of a representation as the should be. I think that it’s harder to reach more ears, and now that there’s so many more people coming in, there’s so much more diversity between all of us. It’s kind of cool, that I’m an Indian girl and then I see Priyanka Chopra. Your’e just like, I’m not separated, I’m not divided between being just American and being just Indian. I can can actually really blend the two. You don’t have to choose between the two which one you want to be, you can mix the two and make it your own, and so creative that other people can relate to it.
What’s your advice for people who want to get started but are too scared?
I feel like I’m still starting, but I can say what really helped me was putting myself out there. I never really put myself out there until I started putting it on social media, posting videos to YouTube, on Instagram, little things. Really getting that started, that’s what really helped me, even with my parents. That’s one of the biggest challenges for me growing up because they never really saw the opportunity in it. I started posting stuff online, and then people really liked it, and I would tell my parents. They were like, “Wow, you’re really taking on the challenge yourself.” If you do it for yourself, you kind of get it started and aren’t waiting around for something to happen, and just take the plunge. I think that’s the best thing you can do, and sometimes it can be hard, but it’s really important that it happens.