Paravi

On finding voice and glitter sparkle explosion

Words: Victoria Kwan

Talent: Paravi @paravi

Photographer: Lissyelle Laricchia @lissyellelaricchia 

Stylist: Sonia Young @soniayoungstyle 

Makeup: Leo Chapparo @leo.chaparro 

Hair: Sean Fears @seanchristopherfears 

She’s a 21-year-old Indian American singer/songwriter who has taken the internet by storm over the past few years with her incredible covers and unique voice. Now with her new single “Angry,” Paravi continues to surprise us with a style of her own, alternating between moments of vivid vulnerability and vocal vitality above organically warm production.

How would you describe your music style to someone who hasn’t heard it?

I think the perfect word for that is a pop glitter sparkle explosion…at least that’s what I hope the feeling of my music leaves you with. Whether it’s a cover ballad of mine or an up-tempo “Golden Child” beat, I want to lean into stuff that sticks to you forever; you find bits & pieces of it long after it’s “gone”, just like glitter. I specifically requested a “shit-ton of sparkles” for my “Golden Child” shoot and on the set of my first music video for this reason…I’m still coughing up confetti and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How did your family and friends respond when you first went viral and how are they responding to your music career taking off?

I don’t think my parents truly understood what going viral meant at the time…all they knew was their daughter woke up screaming and running around the house out of excitement one day, and that called for my favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream that night simply because I was happy. I think that’s truly all my friends and family care about; me being happy. I couldn’t ask for a more caring and supportive community, from streaming my songs the second they drop to genuinely checking in and making sure I’m not going crazy from the pressure of a college student and recording artist “Hannah Montana” life…I feel loved, and whether or not my music is reaching new audiences, I know that I’m successful because they’re holding my hand.

What was going through your mind when you found out you would be featured in the Elvis soundtrack?

I believe it was a string of thoughts along the lines of, “Oh my god I think I’m going to vomit,” followed by, ”Holy crap am I seriously gonna vomit” and lastly, “I have to clean up all this vomit.” No, I didn’t actually throw up, but emotionally, yes I did.

In all honesty, I think the thing at the forefront of my mind was a little 9-year-old me testing for my black belt in TaeKwonDo. We had to do a day of fasting as one of the requirements, so naturally, I stuffed my face with Taco Bell an hour before the fast, grabbed my MP3 player, and went in. Keep in mind, I had traded MP3 players with my brother just days before, but he failed to inform me that he couldn’t figure out how to upload new songs to his old one, and that’s why he needed mine. I had been bamboozled into 17 pre-loaded Elvis Presley songs on an MP3 player that I could not remove, and could not add more songs to. My instructor at the time asked me what I was listening to during the meditation, and I responded by mentioning The King of Rock and Roll, to which he replied with surprise that he had never seen someone my age with such musical taste. When I found out I was on the soundtrack, I couldn’t help but wonder if 9-year-old, Taco-Bell-stuffed me manifested this with a faulty MP3 player, and I bow down to her for that.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what do you hope to accomplish?

I hope the next 5 years are a slow burn, not just because that’s my favorite song off of Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves, but because I want to savor every drop of the incline. It’s no secret that I’ve been holding stuffed animals up like Grammys while fake sobbing and thanking my friends and family since I was 3, but I’ve got plenty of time to make my EGOT dreams come true…I think the virtue of your twenties is not to run, run, run towards everything you want, but to learn the values of patience and peace, and how to balance that with your wide-eyed ambitions. I hope I become more in tune with that balance, more confident in my abilities as a songwriter, I hope I explore new stages and screens as an actress and singer, I don’t know, I hope for a lot of things. Hopefully I’ll have my degree by then because the only thing keeping me in school right now is the image of Megan Thee Stallion accepting hers on stage.

You mentioned previously that your family is your biggest source of inspiration and keeps you motivated. How do you and your family stay connected?

I don’t think a day has gone by where I don’t video chat my parents. Usually our conversations consist of, “How do I fully cook this chicken mom? Am I going to get salmonella?” or, “I have a paper due at midnight and I’m on hour 6 of a session and haven’t even begun to look at my notes for the final tomorrow–help me.” They’re who I go to with every emotion, when I’m at my happiest I want to call them and when I’m at my lowest I want to call them. Hopefully one day soon the puppy dog eyes will work with my dad and they’ll move to California, but till then, I praise whoever invented video chatting for keeping my family by my side.

What song do you have on repeat right now?

"Noah (Stand Still)” By Noah Cyrus feat. Billy Ray Cyrus. As soon as I heard this song, I cried, sent it to my dad, and cried some more. It reminds me of chilly fall nights in Ohio, wrapped in blankets by the fire, watching Bollywood movies with my parents, and at a stage of my life where I feel so out of control, overwhelmed, discovering who I am and what the meaning of this life is. Sometimes it's nice to just stand still and think about things as if I were wrapped in a blanket by the fire with my parents, watching Bollywood movies on a chilly fall night in Ohio.

If not music, what would you be doing?

If I weren’t doing music, I’d trade “starving musician” for “starving artist” and pursue graphic design, which I’ve actually been certified in for a few years. I went to a fancy academy my junior and senior year of high school, alternating every other day between 8 hours of graphic design training, and the core curriculum at my regular high school. To this day I still have an unhealthy obsession with the Adobe Creative Cloud. I ended up becoming the state president of an organization that allowed me to compete in graphic design (it’s literally getting a concept prompt and speed-designing until your hand cramps up) and I became U.S. Presidential Scholar finalist in graphics, as well, so needless to say, I did not go to many parties in high school.

What are 3 things that most people don’t know about you?

-I got a black belt in TaeKwonDo at age 9 (Elvis was integral to my training)

-I’m trained in Indian classical voice and dance (low-key didn’t sing in English until 6th grade chorus)

-I was on American Idol when I was 16 (used to grow up watching that show religiously with my family on our shag carpet. Something about anyone from anywhere being able to walk on that stage made my eyes light up and I knew it was something I wanted to do in my life. I thought being voted off would be the end of the world, but here’s that same world, still spinning and much bigger than it was at 16)

What’s something you want to tell your younger self?

I actually wrote a song called “Blowing Kisses” that I’ve been singing on tour exactly about that idea; about an older version of me, with salt and pepper in her hair and smile lines, looking back on this version of me and treating me with much more kindness and compassion than I’m treating myself right now. I feel so protective over all the younger versions of myself, like an older sister, and yet, I’m so hard on who I am today…I think I would tell a little me that one day, you’re going to learn how to treat yourself with empathy right here, right now, and not after the fact, looking back on who you were. I’m not quite there yet at 21, but I imagine with practice, I’ll be able to be friends with who I am in this moment, not all the potential of who I am going to be, and not all the sweet innocence of who I was, but the person smiling back at me in the mirror.