72bpm: Music From the Heart, For the Heart

Writer Inaya Yusuf reviews the five singles released from Reality TV, the upcoming debut album of Hrishikesh Vasudevan, or 72bpm, a 16 year old, self-made, professional artist.

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72bpm

The album cover for 72bpm’s upcoming debut album, Reality TV. “The ‘glitched’ theme throughout each artwork on the album represents all of the different feelings we have whether it is great (green), so/so (blue), or bad (red).”

Inaya Yusuf

The Process & Journey

Hrishikesh Vasudevan has certainly come a long way from the 14 year old messing around with his cousin and releasing his first single “Dumpster Diving” on a whim. But like any small artist, the path to growing his fanbase and improving his skills wasn’t easy. “I self-taught myself pretty much everything. I was brought up in a musical family so there was just no need for classes. I kind of just learned everything early on as a kid, and so everything is well-engraved in my brain,” the young artist said. He clarified: “It is clear that I had a ton of professional training as a musician before that, so although it sounds easy, it wouldn’t be for most.  I had prior knowledge in music theory and mastered it as a child, so it was very easy for me to figure out how to produce, as I pretty much play 6-7 instruments anyways.”

The 72bpm logo. (72bpm)

Numerous artists, including Phil Collins, J Dilla, the Neptunes, Death Cab for Cutie, Jon Bellion, Alec Benjamin, Joyner Lucas, Lauv, Paul Simon, Hans Zimmer, Chelsea Cutler, and especially Jeremy Zucker, along with his own mother, “a National Singer, super well known in India, a dancer, illustrator, and recording artist”, influenced the formation of the 72bpm brand and aesthetic, with the “music from the heart” slogan as a reference to the average human heart beat. While Vasudevan explains “all of my songs are very different from each other”, the juxtaposition of “an incredibly catchy drum beat mixed with weird noises I make, and orchestral violin & trumpets arrangements” make up the “72bpm sound”. 

Vasudevan’s mother is also a talented artist; she created this piece entirely out of sand. (72bpm)

He furthered that his music “is different and fresh from regular pop and hip-hop, which is a small goal of mine. I want to challenge the listeners to hear details in my songs after multiple listens, and I want to expand their palette.” Elaborating on the various details he incorporates into his songs, Vasudevan stated that “I have literally put so many little things in my songs, that even on your 1000th listen, you will still find something new and refreshing that you just noticed. I do that to keep my songs timeless, and it clearly worked, seeing the amount of people weekly [35,000] still playing my music despite having no release in almost a year.”

 

Dumpster Diving

Cover art for Dumpster Diving, 72bpm’s first single. (Mark Matcho)

“They threw us away, went fetching others.

We’re wondering our lives away: ‘Why?’”

Vasudevan released his very first song when he was only 14 years old! Dumpster Diving has a mellow tone despite its lyrics about “fake friends” that are selfish in their goal to only benefit themselves. However, 72bpm stated that “I actually made the song as a joke! I just wrote the song to pass time with my cousin at a sleepover. It kind of just ended up being something I enjoyed writing so much, that I wanted to professionalize it with production and make it the first song I have ever made, and a new release in my brand new discography…It just felt so natural and felt like something I should’ve been doing before.” 

But initially, he confessed that he was reluctant to release the single at all: “I genuinely do not care about what anyone thinks about my music, because people will dislike anything these days. I did not want to release it anytime soon because I knew I was proud of it and didn’t need a number to validate that.” Looking back, he claims this was when he realized his motive for releasing music: “2 words and 2 words only. [To] Help people!”

 

Melancholic Dreams

Cover art for Melancholic Dreams, 72bpm’s second single. (Ethan Green)

“No matter where I go, it hunts me dead. I can’t say I feel all content.

It’s takin’ me my soul, all the control, steering my thoughts. Just feel alone.”

The second single from Reality TV certainly has the most somber mood from all of 72bpm’s work so far. It tackles the heavy themes of loss, hopelessness, and anxiety and is considered one of the more vulnerable tracks Vasudevan has released. “The song was made to be vulnerable, and you can definitely hear [that in] the vocal control…it makes the song extremely immersive and by the end you definitely feel a deep feeling of shock and a heavy heart,” he explained. But surprisingly, “Melancholic Dreams was originally way more up-beat with lofi-ish drums. But I wasn’t feeling anything spark, so I…went back to re-write the production. This happens for most of my songs…whenever I look back at production for a certain song on the album that I produced a while ago, I feel like I can do better and remake. If I can’t, no big deal, and I keep what I had but improve.”

The rewriting of the production, as well as the relatability of the message, appeared to have paid off when “Melancholic Dreams went viral, and I hadn’t done any ads for any of my music at the time, so that was just a surreal experience to see word of mouth get around that much and have a truly organic fanbase that cares.” 

 

By Design

Cover art for By Design, 72bpm’s third single. (72bpm)

“I’m so sick of being this way and I can’t get out of my own head, not today.

I don’t feel like I’ve been made by design.”

The 12th track on Reality TV and the third single released so far has a quicker pace and more vibrant tempo despite its jaded lyrics concerning the desire to be perfect and compete with others. It also has a personal significance for Vasudevan, as it expresses his struggle with self-esteem: “I was bullied all throughout middle school and high school up until the COVID-19 quarantine started…I’m constantly comparing myself to other people, and it’s really a weakness of mine. It has slowed me down a ton.” He later added, “This is one of the reasons I finished the writing for this song so fast, just because I felt all of it so much and related heavily.” 

72bpm admitted that pressure, both from himself and society, played a huge role in the production of By Design: “I have felt so much pressure with everyone eager for this next release, that it almost made me want to stop. I was super scared of not living up to what people were expecting, especially because all my songs are intentionally made in different genres for each. I hadn’t really handled the pressure until recently, when I realized that I didn’t have to make anyone happy but myself because I only started doing this since I love creating music. I did this because I just love making it, and I do not owe the world anything.”

   

Overnight

The cover art for Overnight, 72bpm’s fourth single. “The artwork shows 72bpm as a prisoner trapped inside a head, looking out of a jail cell.” (72bpm)

“Been tryin’ to figure this out, but I still don’t know it now.

My god, I’m way too human. Yeah, it’s overwhelmin’.”

Featured as Track #13 in Reality TV, 72bpm’s fourth single incorporates a lively, buoyant tone and lyrics communicating the concepts of paranoia about others’ opinions and overthinking one’s own actions. Although anxiety is an important recurring theme in his music, the artist touched on how he has been able to manage the stress: “I deal with stress and anxiety by just hopping in the shower, and reflecting. I also love going outside and just breathing nature to show my gratefulness for being on this earth for as long as God has protected me. Also, to cope, an easy answer is simply just me jamming to create any of my songs.” 

Concerning his creative process, Vasudevan stated that Overnight, along with Dreams, his most recent release, “sounded totally different before as well. But I kept the concept and just ended up reworking what I felt needed change, which is usually everything except the main instrument chords.” 

 

Dreams

The cover art for Dreams, 72bpm’s fifth single. “He has the wings to fly (the mind to succeed & pursue his aspirations), but his circumstances stop him (wings are there but cut off, due to societal expectations, certain responsibilities & people that doubt him).”

“I just wanna go, I don’t wanna hold on for longer.

‘Cause this is getting old. Trust me, you will know when I matter.”

72bpm’s fifth and most recently released single, also the first track in his upcoming album, has a soft but spirited character, with an atmosphere as surreal as a dream. The lyrics describe Vasudevan’s own perspective as the underdog in a society that pressures against following the risky route, even when one is passionate about their aspirations. He has described the song as “very autobiographical”, clarifying that “my music has gotten so successful to the point where now, my SAT scores don’t matter, and I do not need college. I proved all of my teachers wrong. I don’t need a ‘safety net’ to fall on. And I have felt the same way that I did in ‘Dreams’, up until quarantine started, and I had a lot of time to grow as an artist and reflect.” 

He has even claimed that Dreams is his favorite song out of what he has released so far, because “you can see so much growth from my first song I made at 14 [Dumpster Diving], to Dreams [a couple of months later at 15]. It is definitely the most high-quality song out of the releases in terms of production, and I feel like each new song kept getting better and better.” Despite the societal pressures, 72bpm has “chosen to pursue music full time! And unfortunately, I have faced pressure for it. But it hasn’t changed my mind. And it is more of pressure in society, and myself rather than something different like friends or family, who have actually been super supportive.”

 

Looking Ahead

Fully committed to his career as an artist, 72bpm has big plans for the future. (72bpm)

Overall, what has been released of Reality TV so far appears to be extremely promising. He maintains the theme of “the episodes in life that every human goes through,” keeping the lyrics relatable and, at times, even comforting. Each of the five singles has a unique style that transcends genres and labels, but that doesn’t stop them from deeply resonating with the listener and featuring intricate production details. But 72bpm isn’t done just yet. 

As for his current work, Vasudevan ecstatically announced that “I am also recording the rest of my album at the studio Justin Bieber actually recorded his latest album in! The studio manager had reached out to me telling me how impressed he was. It will all be in the next couple of Behind-The-Scenes videos! I’ve had many reach out, and the fanbase is growing! The quality has improved majorly for every other song on the album, and it honestly feels like it’s a whole different type of music, in terms of quality, compared to what I had out last summer.”

“My production has gotten to a crazy level for one person alone, and my lyrics have vastly improved in detail. Every word is analyzed. My performance is also just naturally better through practice,” the young artist reflected concerning his unreleased work. While emphasizing the importance of nurturing talent by putting in the effort, time, and hard work, Vasudevan claimed that “I just realized that once you start only focusing on the end goal, you never end up enjoying the journey…greatness takes time, and it is just something you cannot rush. Especially if I am aiming to make every song better than the last.” He similarly recommends other upcoming artists to strive for improvement, not perfection, and to “Make every song better than the last!”

Since he has grown significantly in less than a year, 72bpm promises to release “more singles before the album for sure, and extremely soon! This album is going to be grand, especially in terms of the production and lyrics,” while even hinting at a future tour.

But throughout his struggles and process of growth, one thing clearly remains unchanged: his motivation. “Just like how listening to my favorite artists has helped me through the toughest times, I want to save a life. I want to help people through their shortcomings, and that is a huge theme of the album. We are all human.”

The past year has certainly been an unusual one, and an even stranger one still for rising artists, but Vasudevan is adamant on remaining optimistic: “there is light at the end of the tunnel you’re digging.” And to all of those that have struggled with the issues discussed in his music, especially students, he quotes his fifth single, Dreams: “You’re gonna be okay kid, you’re gonna be okay!”