The award-winning, hugely influential musician Prince Rogers Nelson, known to the world as Prince, died unexpectedly at age 57 on April 21, 2016, leaving behind a wake of shock and grief, and a legacy of creative works, including over 40 recorded albums. Many artists point to him as an influence.
We spoke with Parvati, the founder and lead artist of Kupid’s Play Records, and the label’s CEO Rishi Deva, about the power of Prince and how his work nurtured others.
Parvati Magazine: What was your reaction when you learned of Prince’s death?
Rishi Deva, CEO, Kupid’s Play Records: I was sitting in the Bob Hope Airport lounge, just about to leave from my meetings with radio and record labels executives in Hollywood, when my label partner texted me to say she had just heard from Prince’s publicist that Prince had died. Shocked, saddened and confused, I burst into tears at the thought that we have lost another great artist this year. Bowie’s passing shocked me to my core, yet I felt that he left us having said what he needed to say. Prince’s passing left me with a pit in my stomach because I believe he still had such a body of work that had yet to be birthed.
Parvati, award-winning Canadian musician: I immediately thought of how he was just here in Toronto, Canada, only a couple of weeks ago. Then I felt a wave of deep gratitude for the legacy of creative wealth he leaves us. I hope wherever he may be, that he is at peace and feels fulfilled in the rich gifts he gave the world.
PMAG: What did Prince’s music mean to you in the development of your own career?
Rishi: When I first started to work in the music industry, Prince had just left his contract with Warner and started his own label called NRG. I worked for a company that serviced the independents and Prince was one of our clients. He felt he was a slave to the major labels and they stifled his music career. When most artists give up their craft after a major label dispute he started his own label. He pressed a bunch of CDs and was not willing to let anyone tell him how much music he could or in his case could not release. He showed me that being small, you can also be mighty and that being indie has huge benefits over the major labels. It helped me to serve the indie community with heart and conviction for the whole of my career.
PMAG: Wow! What was it like to work with Prince?
Rishi: He was quiet, focused and exuded confidence. I find that Parvati has the same artistic qualities that I saw in him: musical excellence, creative vision, innovation and deep insight. You can see that they are musical directors and have a business vision that others look towards for guidance. I have met tens of thousands of musicians. Only one in a thousand have the potential to be hit makers. Of that, only a tiny fraction have the potential to change the world. Prince stood out like that. He exuded revolution. It was coming out of his pores, in the same way it came out of Bowie.
Parvati: Prince was gifted with a huge range of talents as an singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, producer and performer. The depth of his conviction in his artistic voice, and the breadth of ability to express it inspires me personally as an artist. He had a vision and was relentless and uncompromising it bringing it to light. On top of that, his music and the intelligence that accompanied it just made you feel great.
PMAG: How has Prince’s influence nurtured the current landscape of musical artists? What are the acts that exist now because he led the way?
Rishi: Prince is an innovator, a soulful David Bowie. Musical genius with a vision and style that could not be duplicated. I think Prince as an artist demonstrates to all other artists that you can never push the envelope of creativity too far. That artistic expression is far more important than creating simply to please others. Write, produce, collaborate and perform from your soul. Always give it everything you have and never settle for anything less.
Prince definitely influenced a generation of artists like Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Sheila E, George Michael, Grace Jones, Chaka Khan, Madonna, Rick James and likely a bunch of others from that era. You could also say that he influences almost every artist out there now: Beyonce, MGMT, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, Pharrell… but not one of these artists comes close to touching Prince’s talents.
PMAG: Who are the artists who will do for the millennial generation what Prince has done for gen X?
Rishi: I don’t believe that the music industry is set up to easily find the next Bowie or Prince. The modern system the millennials live in does not support the innovators and the genre-defying revolutionaries. Music consumption has become algorithm-based. For instance, based on a complex computer program, Spotify tells me if I like this artist I will likely enjoy another similar artist. It leaves no room for the boundary-pushing innovators like Prince. I just came back from Los Angeles from a Radio Summit and the new head of BBC Radio 1 was urging radio programmers to stop using data as the source of information to program, but to use heart and passion – otherwise we will completely miss the next Bowie or Prince.
I listen to thousands of tracks per year and am able to predict the next hits with great success. Maybe one in a thousand will be a hit, but even fewer are revolutionaries who merge musical excellence, with artistic vision, innovation and an ability to connect to the masses. In all honesty, and this is my expertise as well as my intuition speaking, I believe the one artist I know of today who is most poised to be a revolutionary is Parvati. It is my belief she is the next wave in musical innovation, giving voice to an art form that has yet to cross over to the pop mainstream.
PMAG: What is your favorite song by Prince, and why?
Rishi: Wow. That’s a hard one to answer. I was 16 when I first heard Purple Rain. I saw the movie and I loved every song. I bought into this artist’s ethos. I copied the fashion, I believed in his struggle, I loved the rock, the funk, the fusion of new wave, the sexiness and the mystery.
Parvati: He left us with so much creative material. I am still uncovering new works. A couple of months ago, I came across his “Batdance” music video. I was glued to the near 7 minute experience. A piece from the 1989 Batman soundtrack, it oozed with imagination, innovation, edgy playfulness and of course, Prince’s signature rhythms. The mixed media collage of many varied songs and movie dialogue samples, it points to the conceptual work of prog rock bands like Genesis, whose musical journeys drew listeners into another world altogether. Stepping back to look more broadly at his enormous body of work, this masterful medley is just one of his many, many sparks of creative ingenuity. Mind blowing.
PMAG: What is your favorite quote by Prince, and why?
Parvati: In an interview with the Toronto Star, one of the biggest newspapers in Canada, Prince said: “ONE JUST NEEDS 2 STUDY THE FACT THAT MUSIC SEEMS 2 SOUND BEST WHEN THERE IS SOME “REVOLUTION” INVOLVED.” The fiery light that pierces through perceived obstacles, the dedication to voice that which has not yet been spoken, the vision to stay true to that voice when it may seem out of phase with the mainstream is akin to how I feel about the power of music and the role artists can have. The creative process to me is about something so much larger than the small “me”. Music in my world is about giving voice to a new wave of consciousness, the rise in awareness that we are all connected as one Earth family. It is about the I Am revolution.
Rishi Deva is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.
Parvati, the Positive Possibilities Lady, brings to life the message of “Love yourself, love others, love our world. We are one Earth family”, through her visionary work as a musician, yogi, author and activist.
For more information about Parvati, visit parvati.tv.