Shreya Preeti has had a love of music since she was young, dropped her first EP back in 2017 and and in the past year, has well and truly made her mark on the music scene with the release of FIVE singles. Shreya dropped her latest track “Upside Down” at the end of January and she spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about her artistic influences, being her own harshest critic and her one big goal for 2020.
TITL: At what age did you first realise you wanted to make music a career and was there a particular band or artist/song or album that impacted that decision?
Shreya Preeti: I was a late bloomer in the music industry and only realized in 2017 when I was 22 that I wanted to make music my career – that was entirely thanks to my boyfriend, Dex, who was the first producer that I worked with, and still produces almost all of my records. At that point, I was obsessed with Kehlani and wanted to make music that sounded exactly like hers. I’ve since had the fortunate realization that I can’t be Kehlani, because she already exists, and I need to make music that represents myself. But, I’ve been in love with singing and music since I was a little kid. I first realized I could hold a pitch when Kelly Clarkson’s, ‘Breakaway’ album came out in 2004 – I would blast that record on my blue boombox and realized one day that I was actually sounding pretty good compared to her.
TITL: Which bands and artists would you say most inspire you when it comes to the music you make?
SP: Overall, I think I’m heavily influenced by long-time artists who have been able to consistently release music that changes with them. Off the top of my head, I think of artists like John Mayer, Beyonce, Prince, and The Beatles, when I think of artists who inspire me to continue doing what feels right for me. I’m always so impressed and happy when I go to look at these artists’ catalogs and continue to find little gems of records that I hadn’t connected with before. Right now, I’m feeling really inspired by disco music, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Bee Gee’s and Whitney Houston, as well as more current artists like Dua Lipa (LOVE where she’s going with Pop Disco, oh my gosh), as well as Lennon Stella (her voice is butter).
TITL: If you had to describe yourself and your music in four words what would you say?
SP: All over the place. If I can use four more words, I’d say “in a good way.”
TITL: What would you say your unique selling point as an artist is?
SP: I think I have a voice that is versatile. I’ve released records that are straight Pop, and other records that range from alternative/rock-inspired stuff to Pop/R&B, to even some fun rock n roll stuff. One thing I’m really passionate about is increasing the representation that South Asians have in the music industry, so I think my ethnicity is a unique thing about it.
TITL: From who or what do you most often find inspiration for your song-writing?
SP: I find a lot of inspiration from books that I read. Authors have the best ways of creatively phrasing an idea, and I’m constantly writing down phrases or concepts that I read in novels to try and use in a song.
TITL: There are many brilliant songs around, spanning the decades, but if you had to choose, which, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why? Where did the idea for your latest single “Upside Down” come from? Is there a particular story behind it?
SP: Jeff Buckley’s, “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over.” Hands down. I get full-body shivers each and every time I listen to it. “Upside Down” started as a demo that my boyfriend had created while I was at work one day. He showed it to me when I came home and said he had written the hook and first verse for me, and I instantly connected with its funky vibe and relatable lyrics of feeling like you miss someone the second they leave your sight. We played around with so many different productions and vocal delivery styles, and when we finally landed on its funky pop style, we knew it was a hit. I honestly get tired of listening to my own music once it’s released into the world (because I’ve been listening to demos for months at that point), but this is the first record that I honestly am not sick of – it’s so catchy and fun!
TITL: You’ve said the track is inspired by several tracks including those by Prince, Dua Lipa and Aretha Franklin – how did you manage to blend all those influences and inspirations together to create it?
SP: I think the production was heavily influenced by Prince’s self-titled album, and specifically the album’s leading track, “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” The vocal delivery is more of where I channeled Dua’s confident and sexy alto delivery. I feel like the Aretha comes in during that last chorus when I’m singing on top of the gang vocal, which I’m super proud of!
TITL: Are there plans for an EP or album in the works?
SP: Right now I’m more leaning towards consistently releasing singles every month or so. I like being able to experiment with sounds and feel like if I did release an EP, it would be all over the place..
TITL: What about tour and performance plans? Any chance fans can see you in a town or city near them soon?
SP: I’ve been holding myself back from doing shows because I think at my core, I’m scared of people not showing up, or me tanking a performance. But I’m challenging myself in 2020 to not worry as much about the surface level things, and actually am about to email a show coordinator right after I finish this interview to set up a first live performance in LA.
TITL: As well as praise, artists often face a lot of criticism from critics but do you pay much attention to or care much about what such people think? Do you ever find negative comments hurtful and how do you overcome how they make you feel?
SP: Honestly, I think I am still my main critic with my music. I feel really fortunate to be surrounded by people who build me up with constructive feedback and love. But I would hope that when I get to a point where I’m hearing more diverse opinions that I will be able to sort through what could actually help me grow as a human and artist, and what is just noise from someone who doesn’t actually know me. I think as long as I stay grounded, I’ll be able to handle those kinds of things that are thrown my way.
TITL: To what extent do you use social media, personally and professionally? Do you believe it’s at all possible for bands and artists to achieve success without being socially interactive these days and do you think there are any downsides to the industry in particular being so technology/connectivity driven?
S: Okay, I’m actually proud to say that I spend maybe an hour on Instagram each day, max. I just got the notification yesterday that I had reached my 2 hour “maximum” – I set that up in the settings so that I don’t go senile on that app – but that’s because I was looking at memes for a really long time while I could sleep, hahaha. I honestly think I could use to spend a little more time on social media so that I can be more consistent throughout my socials with announcements and following up with people who message me. But I think that as I’ve grown to be more secure with myself over time, I spend less of my day looking at other peoples’ endeavors. You know, I do think that it’s possible to be successful without social media, but when it makes everything that much more accessible, why try to take an unnecessary detour?
TITL: Finally then, what’s the one BIG goal for this year? What do you want to tick off your bucket list as you work your way through 2020?
S: I want to get on a Spotify editorial playlist by the end of 2020!! Spotify PLEASE!! I love my music and you will too!!!