Premiere: Vocalist Pratika Gopinath Joins Starita for ‘Changing’

The Chennai-based singer was recruited by the San Francisco-based composer, who also has guitarist Robin Applewood on the track from ‘The Wake Up Call’

American artists Robin Applewood, Starita and Chennai-based Pratika Gopinath (from left) collaborate on “Changing.” Photos: Tam Starita, Nikita Borges

After a few years of establishing herself as the soulful voice in Pune alternative act Easy Wanderlings, vocalist Pratika Gopinath takes a step into solo material with a transnational collaboration called “Changing,” for San Francisco-based electronic/ambient/new age producer Michael Starita. The calming song, part of Starita’s upcoming album The Wake Up Call, also features fellow San Francisco guitarist and artist Robin Applewood.

For Gopinath, “Changing” comes as a breakthrough in terms of finally putting out solo material. She admits that there’s often too much pressure in the music industry and a struggle to be expressive, but she didn’t want to let go of this opportunity.

Starita — who has previously worked with hip-hop artist Childish Gambino as well as Indo-American producer-drummer and singer Madame Gandhi — says he chanced upon Gopinath’s work via Rolling Stone India. “I was blown away by the purity, soulfulness, ease, and spirit of her voice. Nothing about the collaboration and making of this track was planned. This container allowed us to effortlessly unleash the uniqueness and qualities that are within each of us as distinctive artists… to create music that is pure, interesting, and honest,” Starita says.

Given complete freedom to add her vocals and lyrics to the track, there’s a deep introspection that takes place on “Changing,” which Starita terms as the most accessible song on his upcoming record. Gopinath adds, “The process was completely remote and only through email and messages. Till date, we have not spoken in person or on the phone, but even so, surprisingly we were able to create something beautiful together.”

With this release to her name, the singer is writing more songs that she’s much more satisfied with, plus collaborations. “If all goes well, hopefully next year there will be a few more releases […] As for Easy Wanderlings, there are a lot of songs in the works, we’re hoping to release a single soon,” she says.

Listen to “Changing” below. Stream on Spotify and Apple Music


Starita Reaches Across Borders On a Virtual Collaboration With Indian Artist Pratika Gopinath and Robin Applewood

***For Immediate Release***

Contact Tam Akiko


Photography/Cover Art Direction Credit: Tam Starita

One of electronic music’s rising stars just so happens to be a Southern boy at heart. Mississippian Starita has wowed international crowds with his innate knack for blending acoustic instruments into an electronic song, which he argues is indicative of his roots.’ – PopMatters

“Changing” is the first single release from Starita’s new avant-garde, ambient, new age album, “The Wake Up Call”; a body of work that expresses his journey of introspection across the various stages of the human experience (from openness and curiosity in childhood to pain, closure, resistance, and darkness in adulthood), leading to awareness, acceptance, and awakening on the search for peace and freedom.  Due to the reflective nature of the message, “Changing” is the most open and approachable song on the album. While this neo-classical and ambient soundscape direction differs from his previous releases, Starita’s signature sound blending resonates clearly on this track and album, as he masterfully combines acoustic and electronic elements using analog synths and sound design. This is also a well-matched global virtual collaboration between US and India artists; featuring the soulful and jazzy vocals of Pratika Gopinath, lead vocalist of the group, Easy Wanderlings of Chennai, South India, guitarist and musical renaissance man, Robin Applewood, of the San Francisco Bay Area, US, and genre-blending artist, Starita, also residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, US.

“The basic premise agreed upon by all of the collaborators for this track and album was to allow the song and its elements to flow together naturally with no force from the mind; letting the heart lead. As a result the song, in a sense, wrote itself,” says Starita. “It started with Robin Applewood who channeled the guitar part masterfully; played on an old classical guitar that was left to him by a close deceased friend.  Since it has the original strings that came with the guitar, there was an inherited energy, meaning, and vibe to the sound, even though most would say that the strings are dead or need to be changed.” Starita expanded. “I wanted the guitar piece to create a pillowy bed of clouds with layers of arpeggios that could be expanded upon,” Applewood added. “From this, I built electronic elements around the guitar piece, leading to the theme of the song. As this all evolved from a natural flow state, I invited Pratika Gopinath to collaborate as the vocalist after hearing her performance with Easy Wanderlings through Rolling Stone India.  I was blown away by the purity, soulfulness, ease, and spirit of her voice. Nothing about the collaboration and making of this track was planned. This container allowed us to effortlessly unleash the uniqueness and qualities that are within each of us as distinctive artists… to create music that is pure, interesting, and honest.” Starita concluded.

“After listening to the opening track on this album, I want the listener to close their eyes and sink into the song.  Instead of thinking about their opinions of it, I want them to feel the song, take note of where the song takes them, and be in the moment. Music is powerful in that it offers us the opportunity to feel instead of think, yet we often don’t allow ourselves to do so. As this track is called ‘Changing,’ and is about the journey of new beginnings, it’s the perfect opportunity to try something NEW.” says Gopinath.

Starita’s “Changing” is available across all digital service providers on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.




Starita, is a Mississippi born, 2-time GRAMMY®/Latin Grammy recognized multi-talented producer, songwriter, and artist whose work spans a multitude of genres. His work and unexpected collaborations with Childish Gambino, A Tribe Called Quest, Madame Gandhi, Rebelution, Los Amigos Invisibles, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and many others, offer a unique genre blending style incorporating electronic elements blended with live instrumentation that stems from his deep roots in electronic, ambient, classical, and new age music. Fans are often pleasantly surprised by the unexpected outcome; an out-of-the box production resulting in a lush yet complex soundscape.



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Media Inquiries
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Julian Roy Joins Starita For Latest Single ‘Save Me’

Singer-songwriter, Julian Roy, known for his modern R&B/Neo-Soul sound, joins GRAMMY® /Latin Grammy recognized producer-artist Starita, marked for his unique genre-blending production style, to deliver a distinctive Lo-Fi Pop/Alternative/Electronic introspective collaboration. From vocals to production, Roy and Starita worked to create a free floating lush soundscape, intertwining melodies with counter melodies that played well off each other.  “While the lyrics are left intentionally vague, there is a touch of sadness to this song. We wanted to mimic that emotional roller coaster through sound; capturing a personal journey of ups and downs, when there’s nowhere else to go, our only choice is inward,” says Starita.

“The song is about choosing where to place our love and more specifically relying on ourselves for that love.  I’ve noticed in my own life I’ve been dependent on other people for love, instead of searching inward. I have done that introspective work. But until I stepped away from some really loving situations did I look in the mirror and realized I needed to dig deeper into myself, and ‘SAVE ME,’ says Julian Roy.

Unlike Starita’s prior collaborations showcasing harder, more explosive vocals, Starita put the spotlight on Julian Roy’s laid back vocals to draw the listener in. From production to delivery, this track carries the dynamic soundscape that fans have come to expect from Starita. Even though this is an electronic track, there’s a lot of focus on songwriting. This track, while huge in soundscape, is counterbalanced by Julian Roy’s mellow vocals and anchored with Hip Hop beats, Reggae bridge, and Dub elements. 

Recognized for Starita’s diverse collaborations with lead vocal powerhouses, this is the sixth track released as an artist following “Rules” featuring Jarobi of A Tribe Called Quest and vocalist Trent Park, “Lights On” showcasing American singer/songwriter, Trevor Hall, ‘The One’ in collaboration with R&B singer/songwriter Trent Park, “HUMAN” with the explosive vocalist/MC RyanNicole, and “Too Strong,’ headlining bi-lingual singer-rapper-songwriter of LatinX group BANG DATA  and Zion I Crew, which premiered via Billboard, Yahoo! Music, Magnetic Magazine, Pop Matters, and HipHopDX, respectively.


#DXCLUSIVE: Deuce Eclipse Delivers Bi-Lingual Brilliance On Starita’s “Too Strong” Single

September 25, 2019 | 8:00 AM

HIPHOPDX PREMIERE – Explosive bi-lingual MC Deuce Eclipse (Zion I, Bang Data) has joined forces with Grammy Award-winning producer Starita for a new single called “Too Strong.” The track effortlessly brings two cultures together and allows Deuce to flex his bi-lingual prowess.

“I’ve always been a bi-lingual rapper,” Deuce tells HipHopDX. “My music is about non-exclusivity. It’s for everybody. It’s music without borders. It’s a universal worldwide sound in the way that it combines the cultures that I’ve experienced — Nicaraguan, first generation American, Californian, Hip Hop rapper, bi-lingual artist  — and the message that comes through me.

“What’s resonant with me right now is going back to my Spanish roots and connecting with other parts of my community beyond Hip Hop — Spanish speakers, immigrants or just others that may not speak English in general. I want my music to be the voice for everyone in terms of what I do musically.”

Deuce adds, “‘Too Strong’ is about strength and positivity, in a way. In another way, it’s putting out there how we live around the system and survive in this country by uniting and coming together; being strong in our beliefs.

“As I look at my environment and the separation of families and what’s going on in the world, I work to balance the negativity that’s placed us and remind myself not to give up on humanity…at the end of the day, we are all good at heart.”

Deuce and Starita’s collaborative relationship stretches back years. In fact, Starita engineered Bang Data’s La Sopa album in 2012. Their chemistry continues with “Too Strong.”

“When the opportunity came up for ‘Too Strong,’ it just felt right to make this a bi-lingual track,” Starita explains. “Deuce’s ability to blend Spanish and English in lyrics is masterful. And considering that I love pushing the boundaries of genre-bending, collaborating with Deuce and making music that resonate across cultures is a natural progression.”

Both artists want fans of the track to feel good after hearing the song. It’s all about creating a mood.

“When fans listen to ‘Too Strong,’ I’d like them to feel that this music is timeless,” Deuce concludes. “I always like to create something that feels good but puts you in the mood. Making music is about the whole, not its parts. It’s not necessarily about the lyrics. It’s everything as one thing. It’s not just the voice.

“The voice is just one instrument. People forget that. I want people to realize that music is a vibration. It gets in where it fits in. There’s so many different vibrations in the world and this is just one of them.”

“Too Strong” serves as Starita’s fifth track as a solo artist, following “Rules” featuring A Tribe Called Quest’s Jarobi and vocalist Trent Park, “Lights On” with singer-songwriter, Trevor Hall, “The One” with R&B singer/songwriter Trent Park and “HUMAN” featuring Oakland-based MC RyanNicole.


Starita Record will be releasing a REMIX EP early 2020 and is looking for remixes. Submit below for consideration!

#DXCLUSIVE: Starita & Oakland Powerhouse RyanNicole Join Forces For “Human” Single

August 29, 2019 | 7:00 AM

HipHopDX Premiere – During the UnderCover Presents’ A Tribute To A Tribe Called Quest event in San Francisco earlier this year, Oakland MC/singer RyanNicole nearly stole the show with her effortless rhyming style and powerful on-stage presence.

2x-GRAMMY®/Latin Grammy recognized producer, songwriter and artist Starita — who’s worked with artists such as Childish Gambino and A Tribe Called Quest — knows this. So naturally, he recruited the explosive talent for his new single, “Human.” The Hip Hop/Tech House hybrid bursts with a sharp uniqueness, simultaneously delivering plenty of heart and soul.

“This track is especially relevant in this divisive time with the most divisive rhetoric,” RyanNicole tells HipHopDX. “It’s a reminder that despite the stark differences, we are all the same. The song comes through me and emerges from the beat. “As an activist, black woman and Oaklander, I can identify with this track. Everyone can connect as humans.” The Queen of Everything, as she’s sometimes called, isn’t afraid to take risks and step outside the Hip Hop box.

“I accept opportunities like making this track because it allows me to challenge and stretch myself,” she says. “Through my work, I hope to inspire others to explore; believing that Spirit is leading us and to not living in a box. TRY! LIVE! This collaboration is an example of me working with a producer that people wouldn’t normally see me with.

“Having worked with Starita on the last UnderCover project, I personally witnessed his talent, respect for the creative process and openness to doing things differently. I wanted to continue this collaboration as he pushes artists to do things that are out of their comfort zone. And I value these creatively challenging experiences. The list of artists he’s worked with is impressive. I want to be a part of his A-list of collaborators.”

Starita jumped at the opportunity to work with RyanNicole. He’s also a fan of the song’s message. “This song speaks to what it means to be human, to be ok with the range of our existence — the dark with the light, high with low, left and right,” Starita explains. “And more importantly, to realize the oneness of it all.

“If we could, just for a moment, live in awareness, we would realize that we too are all part of this whole and together as one family.”

Starita adds, “I’ve stopped forcing making music and instead let myself be guided by the message of the song and in a way, channel the spirit the song conveys through sound. My process is usually to take a simple rhythm and melody and make it expand, grow, evolve into something massive; a complex soundscape.

“Using classical elements/instruments and incorporating it with electronic music, allows me to take the listener on a musical and emotional journey and tell the story sonically.”

“Human” is the fourth track Starita has released as a solo artist following “Rules” with ATCQ’s Jarobi, “Lights On” with Trevor Hall and “The One” with Trent Park.

Starita Record will be releasing a REMIX EP early 2020 and is looking for remixes. Submit below for consideration!


Phife Dawg’s Mother & Wife Speak On Life & Loss During UnderCover Presents’ Tribe Tribute

Phife Dawg's Mother & Wife Speak On Life & Loss During UnderCover Presents' Tribe Tribute

The sold-out crowd was gathered to watch over 100 Bay Area musicians recreate A Tribe Called Quest’s 1993 classic, Midnight Marauders, and honor the life of the late Tribe luminary as part of the A Tribute To A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders event.

Spearheaded by non-profit UnderCover Presents, the tribute event seamlessly weaved together a cornucopia of musical genres — from Colombian and Indian to New Orleans brass and straight up rock-n-roll. Of course, the thread tying it all together was firmly rooted in Hip Hop. 

Phife Dawg’s mother, esteemed poet Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, and Phife’s widow, Deisha Head-Taylor, were on hand to witness the City of Oakland proclaim May 17 “Phife Dawg Day” as well as revel in the entire performance.

Speaking with HipHopDX, Deisha made it clear the pain of losing Phife is still raw and when the grief is all too consuming, that’s when she’ll visit his Instagram account or old text messages.

“I laugh,” she told DX. “Yeah, it warms my heart to see and remember who he was and what he represented. His antics and just his whole character was just amazing and just funny at times. I smile.”

But there are days when it feels like she’s living in the Twilight Zone. Phife was only 45 when he passed away on March 22, 2016 and nothing could’ve prepare Deisha for the profound loss.

“To be honest, it’s still hard,” she admitted. “It’s still surreal, unreal, and I still have moments where I have emotional outbursts. The pain just never leaves. It’s a huge chunk of your heart that just … it feels like it’s gone, and it’s empty now. Sometimes I’ll look at pictures. I’ll go on his Instagram account. He stayed on Instagram [laughs].

“I am the Phifer, right? Sometimes I’ll go to those, and I’ll look at those, and then I’ll start smiling. When I have certain moments, sometimes I’ll go to text messages of things he would send me. I just reminisce to get through the healing.”

Deisha also looks for strength in Phife’s mother. Before Cheryl joined the conversation, she explained, “I’ll call Cheryl and we get through it together. When I hear her voice sometimes, it lifts me up. Because I’m like, ‘OK, she’s the closest to him.’

“I hold on to her sometimes for strength. Sometimes when I’m going through it, I’ll call her. She’s like, ‘Hey, Deish, how you doing?’ That instantly perks me up. But it’s very difficult. It’s still difficult.”

When Cheryl walked in to the green room, her likeness to Phife was almost shocking. There’s no doubt where the Tribe MC came from and where he got his penchant for stringing words together. Her energy instantly set the room at ease while her warm smile brought a sense of peace.

“I haven’t gotten through it,” Cheryl said. “It’s still a day-by-day process, but I know he would want me to continue my work. I am a professional poet and writer, so I withdrew from a lot of my performing and teaching and things like that. That was very helpful. I’ve been in therapy for the last two-and-a-half years and writing.

“I’ve just written a memoir [Mama Phife Represent] about our family and our life together. That has been very helpful in a way but also feels naked because our lives have been like an open book. I know we signed up for that, but still to mourn in public is no joke.”

However hard it may be, Cheryl is eternally grateful for the countless people who recognize what an invaluable contribution and impact her son made on the world. The Tribute To A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders event is a shining example.

“That has been the highlight of some of the healing, the highlight that he was a good man,” Cheryl said. “We knew it — no jail or drugs or 10 baby mommas. This is a man who prayed before he ate his meal and he didn’t care where he was, what restaurant, what high class, it didn’t matter. He was like that.

“This is a guy who kept his childhood friends from grammar school. We have always known that he was doing his best. I mean, he was human, but that he was trying his best to be a good person. To see that acknowledged, that’s been really, really amazing.”

Deisha feels similarly. Phife’s career started to take shape in 1985 when he was only 15, meaning for three decades he was able to live and thrive off his music. In fact, Cheryl laughed when she said he only had one “regular” job — a fast-food position at Stuf’t Potato.

In the Taylor household, you had to either be in school or work, so when Phife approached her and stated he wanted to join Tribe, she had to oblige. Plus, she said it brought him out of a darker period of his life.

“His dad and I were going through a divorce, and that was a really difficult time for him,” Cheryl recalled. “I saw the sadness in him, and I saw his light go out. For the first time, when he told me about rapping with Tribe, I saw a light coming back on in him. When he was six years old, my mother helped him to memorize Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. He did it at a cotillion.

“We’ve seen this in him from the very beginning. When that light goes out, you see that, too. You’re helpless as to what to do. You try everything, but it’s up to them how they come out of it. It was the music that brought him out.”

Deisha added, “I look at the fact that he had a complete career because he started so young. I always think to myself, ‘How many people can say that they were in the business for that long?’ He lived a full life. Even though he passed away young, in my eyes, he still lived a full life as far as his career. He earned platinum and gold albums, and he was well-known around the world.

“This [event] keeps us going. Just to say, ‘Wow, this is all for him.’ If he was here and this was going on, he would be performing. That’s just who he was. He didn’t care. He always said ‘I love Hip Hop, it’s culture, and the fans. He loved everything about music.”

When Deisha and Cheryl are together, their bond is instantly recognizable. They both suffered an impossible loss and continue to lift each other up. In the wake of Phife’s passing, Cheryl had endless empathy for her daughter-in-law despite also losing her son.

The event in San Francisco was also further proof just how much The Funky Diabetic meant to Hip Hop, something she feels he didn’t always get credit for during his time on earth.

“I’m honored and lucky,” Cheryl said. “He deserved this so much, and he did not always get this in his career. For those people who thought he didn’t work as hard as Q-Tip, that’s not true. When he was on tour and doing peritoneal dialysis four times a day and jumping onstage, you would never know. For people who say things like that, they don’t have a clue.

“Sometimes Malik would be sick and I would come out. Deisha and David [son] would be in the bed trying to get some sleep with him because it was late at night. She had to go to work the next day. People don’t know the half of what they speak and what Deisha had to go through. I say all the time that, yes, I’m sad. I loved my son. But my biggest pain was for this girl right here [points to Deisha]. I was like, ‘How does this happen?’”

We may never have the answers to those questions and Cheryl barely had time to even ponder why her son passed, but there are moments when it’s a little easier to understand. One particular time was during a memorial for Phife at the Apollo Theater in New York City shortly after he made his transition.

“I didn’t have time to get there [to the why] because they had a memorial at the Apollo, and the person who spoke said that some people just come here to do their work,” she said. “You see, like Bob Marley. You see like, Jimi Hendrix. They made this big splash with their work.

“Then I said that night, ‘Oh ok, so that’s what it is.’ He came here to do some work, and he’s done it. With the life he lived and things he’s done, I mean, there are people 95 years old that haven’t done the things he has.”

At one point in the evening, Cheryl read two poems about her revered son, which brought many people in the audience to tears. But despite the heavy context, the overwhelming sense of community and love reverberated everywhere. As Cheryl and Deisha continue on their path to healing, they both understand it’s not a process that makes any sense. Emotions come and go like the tides.

“It varies,” Cheryl said. “Sometimes I’m fine. Last night [during opening night], I was fine until they put up his first grade picture. It was like you never know what will trigger it, but you have to feel that in order for it to pass.”

Mama Phife Represent will hopefully be released next year.

In the meantime, cop the A Tribute To A Tribe Called Quest album here and check out DX in the coming week for Part II of the interview, which details the status on Phife’s posthumous solo album.