Inspired by Drake and Bruno Mars, Ridgefield teen releases 1st album from his basement studio

RIDGEFIELD — Seventeen-year-old Ridgefield High School senior Akarsh Tripathi grew up listening to music by artists Drake, Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson and Charlie Parker.

"I have a picture of all of them in my studio room downstairs," he said. "Seeing them do what they do and seeing the level of music they're able to put out and the success they've had with it —  that motivates me. Every time I go there, I'm motivated to keep getting better and keep working."

Tripathi is also a musician himself and has written about 150 songs to date. He has also just released his first album, called "Mood Swings," which can be found on music streaming platforms under the name Jai T —  a name that represents his Indian identity.

"Jai is a Sanskrit name for victory," he said.

His music is accessible through major streaming services including Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and YouTube. About 300 people monthly are tuning into his album on Spotify alone.

'Mood Swings'

 Tripathi said he was motivated to create music at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when everything was shut down.

"There was nothing much to do. I was like, let me try to make some music," he said. "It kind of started off as an experiment. I'll make songs and I would share them with my friends. I got positive feedback. They were pretty encouraging. "

He kept writing music and set up a mini studio in his basement.

Releasing an album involved creating an artist profile, a record label and getting a distributor,  Tripathi said.

He takes the beats from the songs off YouTube and then writes the songs.  He also markets his songs. 

He said there's no common theme to the songs on his album —  which is why he chose "Mood Swings" as its title.

"Every song on the album has a different vibe, a different mood to it. I'm pretty versatile, in terms of what I make," Tripathi said. "It's anywhere from straight up rap and a lot of R&B to a little bit of pop." 

"Mood Swings" consists mainly of vocals, although a saxophone can be heard in some songs —   Tripathi began playing saxophone in the fifth grade at Ridgebury Elementary School. He played through Scotts Ridge Middle School and still plays at Ridgefield High School.

 Tripathi said he tries to tie his personal experiences into each song he writes. 

"If I'm ever going through something, I'll write about it. Or I try to envision how my life would be five years into the future if I am where I want to be, in terms of my music," he said. "I also take inspiration from my friends, their situations, or from movies —  Just kind of anywhere where I can pull an idea from."

One of the songs on the album, called "South Beach Freestyle," is a dance club song. 

"When I was writing it, I was trying to envision how it would be if I was in a club in Miami in South Beach. When I went to South Beach last winter. I wasn't old enough to go into any of the clubs. Outside, I was walking on this strip and there was loud music," he said. "I envisioned five years from now, if I revisited this place, how would I want it to be? How would I envision the party scene there?"

'Creativity'

 Tripathi said he enjoys the creative aspect of making music.

"There is no right way to make music. You do it any way you want to," he said. "The creativity is being able to almost forget about everything else happening and go into the studio and just create and make something new."

Tripathi added going forward, he hopes to continue to make more music and build a wider audience.

"My hope is that in the future, I can market this album and market my future music to gain a larger following and hopefully, create a similar sense of music community at whatever college I end up at, like I hope I did at RHS."

When he's in college next fall, he said he plans to major in business and a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field. He would like to keep music as a side hobby —  for now.

"If music works out and I can make a living out of music ... for sure, I'd love to do that," he said. "I have two different sides ... the more academic side and then the music side. I would love to be able to do both."

He added, "The possibility to create something in a few hours that was completely nonexistent before ... for it to have the potential to unite people and for people to listen to it and enjoy it —  that's what I was hoping to give the community with this album."