The past four years have been manic for singer Tarika Taneja Sachthey, who has spun herself through a plethora of careers before landing back on the turf she loved the most—singing.
Before Sachthey, who goes by her stage name Starika, sprints back to rehearsals for her upcoming performance at The Piano Man Jazz Club, she tells us all about her life, including the traumatic phase of when she was battling depression.
In the years before circling back to music, Sachthey traversed through the career landscape of IT training management, education consulting, HR, managing a music school, strategic marketing and volunteer work.
“I was doing all this to be independent and to experience different things, but most notably, it stemmed out of my inability to understand where to go and what to do,” she says.
Her gig includes popular covers in genres such as Pop, R&B, Jazz and Soul. You’ll hear Whitney Houston, Michael Buble, Whitesnake and commercial pop songs.
The confidence you see in her today is not a virtue she could always boast of. In school, she battled with depression. It didn’t matter she was good at academics because everything had tumbled down because of her disorder. “I had no self-worth,” says Sachthey. “I used to be inspired by mostly freedom fighters, probably because they symbolised struggle and strife that I could connect with on the inside.”
A time came when she lost all control and found solace in the company cigarettes and alcohol. An obsession with boys and bad company followed, and at the age of 13, she failed Class VIII. “I was bullied and slut-shamed,” she recalls.
She was now desperate to redeem herself. Realising that singing was her antidote, she began perfecting it. “Although my school was unsupportive, my mom and I would go to competitions where I’d sing without any accompaniment.” she says.
In time, Sachthey’s merit was out for everybody to see, and she began to bag top positions in competitions. “Music connected me back to myself and I left school with a bang,” she says, adding, “Everybody who had the audacity to shame me now respected and admired me.”
But no one knew how scared she felt getting up on stage despite her confidence in music. “I would wear a sanitary pad because I’d pee a little every time. Eventually, the focus on outside validation reduced and I became happier being me,” he says.
Sachthey travels back to the time when she was 10 years old. “I was chosen to play the lead role of Joseph in the Christmas musical at school. I use to be so excited to play the male part, largely because I was struggling with gender identity issues as a child, so I went as low in my range as possible, to make it mannish,” she says.
Sunny, who will accompany her at the gig, is a composer, guitarist, song writer and founding member of Riitam, a progressive rock band. While Sunny is humble and disciplined, Sachthey is boisterous and restless. “I am informal, although sometimes people get offended because I’m too casual and crass,” she says.
Sachthey couldn’t be more excited for her show, she tells us. She could have added some Blues music to the line up but has contended herself with the commercial music she’s thrown in to keep the audience entertained. “Let’s hope it goes well. I’m so nervous just thinking about it,” she says.
October 23, The Piano Man Jazz Club, B 6, Commercial Complex, Safdarjung Enclave, 9 pm onwards.