RESPECT. Interview: Beya Likhari Talks Storytelling, Performing Internationally

Beya Likhari

Credit: Maddie Ivey

Beya Likhari is an R&B delight, musically autographing tracks with her purified vocals and realized song-writing. Based in Baltimore, the singer has made a name for herself from her solo projects to a recent supporting role opening for celebrated poet Rupi Kaur. Likhari is a graceful soul act that holds promise and RESPECT. got to learn more about what makes up her craft.

RESPECT.: You’ve done a lot of electronically infused, light (and somewhat dancey) tracks recently – from your collab with J.Robb & IshDARR on Soulection’s compilation to solo cuts like “Lovebug” and “Call Me.” Are you focused on taking your artistry in more of a dance-like r&b direction lately or do you have your mind on different types of stylings?

Beya: I look back at all of those songs and laugh sometimes because I don’t really know where they came from. I just went with my mood; “Call Me” [&] “Love and Lovebug” sort of came from that vibe. Moving forward, the sound will depend on what I’m feeling when I sit down to write.

RESPECT.: Your music is heavily poetic, you zoom your attention on lyricism and its clear on songs like “Bad Dream” where what is spoken takes a heavy precedence over the instrumental. Is this a detail in your music that you tend to place an emphasis on?

Beya: Lyricism is and has always been important to me. I like stories, I like when my friends tell me stories about their experiences and encounters. I like writing my own stories, and music is just one way I like to share them. “Bad Dream” was another experiment that I was nervous about because I didn’t know how people would react, since it’s so different from the other music I had out at the time. It’s probably one of my favorite songs.

RESPECT.: Whether SoundCloud shuts down or not amid rumors, your presence on the site is heavy, with your tracks garnering tens of thousands of plays. How have you been able to amass this sort of success through this medium?

Beya: I’m thankful to SoundCloud for giving me a space to put my music online and share it with complete strangers. I’d also have to say that part of my “success” in having my music shared digitally is because of my friends and artists that I’ve worked with that have relentlessly passed along my music. The power of word-of-mouth helped me a lot.

RESPECT.: You’ve shared shows with acts like Noname, Majid Jordan, Innanet James, Eryn Allen Kane to name a few but also been to Vancouver/Toronto recently for a few appearances. What have those experiences been like as a Baltimore-based artist, not only opening in your city but also spreading your talents internationally?

Beya: It’s surreal. If you told me that one day I’d be opening for artists that I look up to and traveling out of the country to perform, I wouldn’t believe you. I still don’t believe it. All I can say is that I’m really enjoying visiting new places and sharing my music with new audiences. Canada is a cool place, and those shows were definitely time markers for me.

RESPECT.: Your project Love Letters from Lola is a little over two years old now. In retrospect, what have you learned from the release of that series of songs and how has your music progressed since?

Beya: The one thing I’ve learned since Love Letters from Lola is that I have to keep making music. That project was so much fun to write and compile, and [it] was really fun to see people vibe out when I performed [its songs] live. I would say that my music now is in a similar space, but also a completely different space—if that makes sense.

RESPECT.: Lastly, what can music fans look forward to from Beya Likhari in the future?

Beya: I don’t want to speak too soon here, but definitely something cool.

If you’d like to hear more from Beya Likhari, be sure to check out her catalog on SoundCloud and stream her song with J.Robb & IshDARR – “Love” – below.

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