She is all of 21, but the rich, full and vibrant voice of Chandrika Darbari, or RIKA as she is better known, is deceptive of her status as a newbie in the pop music scene.
Swaying her fiery red hair from left to right and back, the young British-Indian musician performs with a kind of confidence exuded only by the biggest of the stars, writing and singing her rhythmic compositions.
Pop icons Mariah Carey and Rihanna are RIKA’s idols, and she will stop at nothing to emulate the artistic journeys of her role models. “They are such strong, powerful and insanely talented women, which is how I like to align myself,” she says.
RIKA is currently riding high on success after bagging the Artist of the Year, ASIA award at 18th annual Urban Music Awards 2022—another feather in her cap that is already sagging under the weight of the accolades she has accumulated in her short career.
She broke into the professional music scene, when she took the world by storm at the age of 17 with her single No Need that was themed around bullying and racism. It topped the charts in India and became BBC Radio’s number one song of the week. Since then, she has rarely left the spotlight, quite literally.
In 2019, RIKA was the featured artist on the Brits’ ‘Sunday Spotlight’, and also won in the ‘Best UK Female Act’ category at the BritAsia TV Music Awards.
She received the ‘Rising Star’ award at the ninth Asian Awards the same year. She is also the first teen Asian-British artiste to be signed by Virgin EMI Record Labels.
For her latest achievement at the Urban Music Awards, she impressively beat several established artists, many of whom have been enjoying overwhelming fandom for several years in India. The list includes B Praak, Gurj Sidhu, Sidhu Moose Wala, Neha Kakkar, Jasmine Sandlas, Pak–Man, Ezu, PropheC and Karan Aujla.
But the young artist is careful not to let success go to her head. Not after receiving numerous awards. Not even after she became the first artiste last year to be signed by Warner Music India, which is attempting to bring more Indian sounds to the global stage.
For RIKA, her fans’ appreciation and adulation is her number one award. She says, “The support for my music and the love I receive is the biggest award of all.”
RIKA began her journey as a musician at the age of nine, when she joined her school choir, and never looked back. Born to a Serbian mother and an Indian father, her multicultural upbringing had a significant impact on her art.
RIKA has often taken up social issues through her music. In 2016, she penned For Peace in Syria, the video which garnered over 9,00,000 views on YouTube in just a few weeks. It also helped raise funds for UNICEF.
“They (children in Syria) didn’t deserve to be a part of the pain and being a teenager myself, I really connected with them,” she recalls.
Authenticity is of utmost importance to the young musician who also doubles up as a songwriter, and for that Ed Sheeran has been an inspiration. “He puts his authenticity in his music and I do the same in mine, as I write or co-write all of my songs,” she says.
Bollywood music has also had a role to play in her musical success. Some of her favourite Indian artists include Jubin Nautiyal, Armaan Malik and Neha Kakkar.
RIKA’s last song release was in 2021—‘Love to You’—in which she collaborated with Bollywood singer Ankit Tiwari. She is looking forward to a year of upcoming singles and collaborations. All geared in forward motion, RIKA seems ready to toss out her newbie cap, and don the title of a star.