Young Indonesian international hitmakers Rich Brian, Niki, and Warren Hue recently released the music video to “California”, a contemplative song about their experiences chasing their big dreams in the city of stars. The track is released under 88Rising and will be part of the heavily-anticipated Head in the Clouds 3 compilation album.
88Rising recently held an invite-only press conference with the three. Moderated by Oliver Zhang, the three were asked a curated collection of pre-submitted questions. The questions were mostly about the single, living their dreams, and representation of Asian people in the mainstream. As Niki herself pointed out, “Some of us fail math, that’s a thing.”
When asked how the song first came about, Rich started things by saying: “The song started as an instrumental piece with a beat. When I was writing it I went all fresh. We ended up just talking about our experiences growing up and living in California coming from a different place.”
“We all put our own pieces together,” said Warren.
“I believe we’ve only been together in less than five songs,” Niki opened up. “Honestly it wasn’t that difficult because every time we collaborate we write our own parts.”
“We’ve never been in the same room when we write collaborative pieces,” said Rich. “It’s real interesting to see each other grow. We were all just fetuses back then, so it’s really great to see each other four, five years later doing our own thing and thriving, despite going through the same challenges and seeing ourselves mature.”
“My favorite part is how all three of us are individually different,” Warren added. “That’s the most interesting part for me, how different we are and yet when it comes together everything becomes magic.”
“I actually wrote two different verses,” Niki bared. “It’s great how things change when everybody’s parts came in. I had to change my first verse because it didn’t fit with everybody else’s parts.”
When asked about their experiences living in California, Warren said that “To me as a kid growing up watching tons of movies in this setting with my parents. It’s great, it’s literally surreal, even just seeing the hills and the palm trees. It’s a chapter of my life I cherish.”
“Moving here was this sort of natural process,” Niki expressed. “I’ve been here ever since. I love the weather and I love my place.”
“I’ve always wanted to come here since I was young,” Rich bared. “It made my dreams very valid. Being here is still crazy to me, I’m still not jaded at all, there’s still a lot of new things for me to explore here.”
But make no mistake about it, it also has its set of challenges. “For me, it’s definitely trying to find the balance with life. I get homesick at times,” Warren confessed. “It’s hard to balance making time with friends and family back home. But that’s just part of the experience, having to meet new people.”
“Just the pandemic,” Niki added. “I just realized how performance-based this line of work is, how people you’ve never met have a lot of things to say. It’s just about taking it one day at a time, just holding myself to a human standard.”
“My answer is same with Niki’s,” Rich said. “I’ve always been a dream chaser that I felt I can do whatever I think of, but there’s also the motivation of trying to be as big as I could possibly be. It was great to get to a place where I can keep making music and art with people I love to work with. There’s just this mentality of trying to be bigger than the last one. It reached a point where it took its toll on me. When I was 14, 15 this would have been a great spot for me, I do this because I love doing this, along the way I forgot about that, it makes you forget the process. I always have to have that balance. It’s always important to feel like I feel now, finding a way healthier look at my music and life.”
Niki: “Throughout the pandemic I’ve watched tons of movies and I noticed that I gravitated mostly toward the antiheroes. I realized that I view myself more as an antihero. There’s always an arc or a thing they do that wins me over. It’s a way or a lens that I view myself.”
When asked of advice to aspiring artists, Rich said “Definitely be more appreciative of what you have and what you’re about to have. I felt before things went so fast on my first tour that I didn’t know the other side of it. I feel like now that I’ve experienced more ups and downs now I have a better understanding of what I have. Don’t focus too much on what will blow up. Focus on making your own world and your own visuals.”
Warren: “It’s a cliché: Be yourself. It’s the only way you’ll be happy.
Niki: “The common denominator in your songs is you. The only reason people are gonna keep coming to your songs is to find you.”