We recently featured producer Nikhil Seetharam as part of our Introducing series, after an album he was involved with received a Grammy. The album in question was "Take Care" by Canadian rapper Drake, and it received the Grammy for Best Rap Album.
Kavya Rajagopalan caught up with him to find out more about his journey in the music industry…
Multi-Platinum, Grammy-winning producer and composer Nikhil Seetharam traces his roots back to India; Nikhil’s father hails from Tamil Nadu, whilst his mother is from Maharashtra, and the family moved to Canada from Mumbai in 1998, when Nikhil was around 8 years of age.
"I started composing when I was around 8 or 9," says Nikhil. "My dad got me a grand piano around that time and it’s something that I still use today."
Something that many youngsters – particularly those of Asian heritage – are familiar with is the family expectation of having a "proper" career; taking the arts seriously is something that most parents are wary of. Nikhil’s parents, though supportive, still had a certain academic level they wanted him to achieve: "I’ve always wanted to do music, and making it a career just seemed like the most natural thing for me to strive for. I’ve been really fortunate to be blessed with such amazing parents; they really are my biggest supporters," he continues. "Their only stipulation was that I maintain high marks and complete my undergrad at the University of Toronto."
"I had to show them that I was genuinely committed to choosing a career path in music," he adds. "So I spent several years balancing my studies with composing music."
Nikhil isn’t just a composer/producer for mainstream music, as he also does scores for films, trailers and even video games. "They are two different worlds of music creation that each require a specific mentality," says Nikhil when asked about the differences between the different outlets. "Composing urban music is significantly different from composing scores, mainly because the latter’s process is much longer!"
So, how did this rising talent manage to get involved in the mainstream industry, eventually leading to doing work for top artistes such as Nicki Minaj, Drake and Kendrick Lamar? "I was working at a retail store several years ago, and was very fortunate to meet [producer] T-Minus. His acceptance of my musicality and willingness to collaborate was the stepping stone I needed to get my music out into the world."
Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Canadian producer Tyler Williams, a.k.a. T-Minus, has been on the scene since about 2009, working on tracks for a number of well-known faces in the music world including Ludacris, Ciara, Lil Wayne and Drake, so to work with him would be an incredible opportunity for any aspiring producer!
You could argue that luck was on Nikhil’s side when he met T-Minus at the store that day, but it’s important to know that hard work and good self-promotion also come into play when it comes to trying to make it big in the mainstream scene.
"I wouldn’t say it’s really about ‘making it mainstream’. It’s more about making music that taps into the right sound," asserts Nikhil. "Good music tends to find its way to the public, so utilising social media to showcase your material is extremely important for everybody."
A big moment for Nikhil was at the 2013 Grammys, when Drake’s "Take Care" picked up the award for Best Rap Album. Being involved in a Grammy-winning project would be a dream come true for anyone in the music scene, and it’s no different for this 22-year-old.
"I remember spending night after night in the studio with T-Minus working on fresh music for Drake," he explains. "Being a part of that project was an incredible blessing. It was a surreal experience to learn that we won because all that hard work paid off in ways I couldn’t have imagined!"
In just a few years, Nikhil has worked with some huge names in the scene, but if he could have his pick of any three artistes to work with, who would he choose?
"I would love to work with Beyoncé, simply because she is an incredible musician. Nas is one of my favourite rappers, so it would be great to work with him. Going across the board, I would love to collaborate with Linkin Park because I’ve been influenced by their music for a really long time."
Big names, but there’s no denying that, with the way he’s going, there is every chance those collaborations could happen for the young producer. Unfortunately, he can’t shed much light on who he’ll be working with this year, and all he could reveal was that he has "several upcoming mainstream records, and a film that is currently in production."
We’re looking forward to more from this talented producer and composer, who – by the sounds of it – already has some amazing projects lined up for the coming year!