This piece is part of our 21 Local Innovators To Watch roundup in the August 2022 print issue of District Fray. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
District Fray: Why you do what you do
Nikhil Rao: I enjoy building new foundations for myself every day, musically and artistically. Inspiration comes so fast that I never really think to stop, I just find the next big project to work on. I like to make music that I would want to listen to, and my brain is always swimming in rhythms and hooks to work off of, so there’s an endless supply of ideas at any given time. Whether it’s my own music or collaborating with others in film, multimedia exhibits or video games, I aim to engage people spiritually to cut through the fog and feel something real.
How you are helping
I enjoy helping the community with my job at 7DrumCity and with my record label/post-production studio House of Joy, a new D.C. record label and post-production studio distributed by Redeye Worldwide. I work with filmmakers on film and advertisements doing audio post-mixing, sound design, and original music. We are also releasing our first record on House of Joy this year, with a new band called Tunnel (featuring Fugazi’s Brendan Canty on the drums). At 7DrumCity, I help by hiring local musicians to become teachers to try to help relieve some of the financial burden in this expensive city. I also set up a program with the DC Department of Human Services where at-risk youth can take music lessons for free as an alternative to probation, community service, and other types of issues. I never had a program like this when I was younger, and it would’ve helped me a lot growing up. I’m happy to help create a positive experience for struggling kids and try to channel their energy into something productive.
Who else is helping
I have a lot of respect and appreciation for Lindsay at Black Cat, David at Comet Ping Pong, Jon at Union Stage, Alli at DC9, Kassie & Josh at Rhizome, and all the other people that have been working their butts off to book concerts at DC venues. It is not an easy job, especially during Covid. With all my heart, thank you.
Where you escape in D.C.
My room. I feel most calm either playing the piano, or sequencing drum machines/synthesizers.
Two album recommendations. “Pripyat” by Marina Herlop and “Greatest Treasure” by Fuga Ronto. Pripyat released on a Berlin label called Pan Records, anything they release is always great and pushes boundaries. Fuga Ronto is a band from Switzerland that plays a mix of fusion and ambient pop music, very groovy and yummy. For podcasts, I recommend Pearie Sol‘s “Wiggly World,” where he discusses D.C. music and interviews wonderful musicians.
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.