By Zach Schepis

Photo courtesy of Anirudh Bharadwaj.

It’s all smooth, groove, and fusion. A blend of laid back jazz and chill hip-hop beats that instantly create an atmosphere where head bobbing becomes a welcome inevitability. Samples flow in and out of one another seamlessly, and you can’t help but appreciate the mastery that has gone into creating the flow of these songs.

Then you realize that it’s all coming from the mind of a sixteen year-old boy.

Meet Anirudh Bharadwaj. Ani is the mastermind behind weirdinside–a solo endeavor that he’s jumpstarted all on his own. It’s hard to believe that music with this kind of taste is coming from someone who’s fresh into high-school–let alone the fact that he’s just recently taught himself piano and plays all of his drum parts on a computer keyboard. But talent and inspiration come from the least likely places and Ani is certainly no stranger to strangeness.

BTR chats with the young songwriter about his process and inspiration.

BreakThru Radio (BTR): You’re only sixteen and you’re making some great music. When did you start doing this, and did you teach yourself?

Anirudh Bharadwaj (AB): Thank you! I started making music sometime in November 2013. I was really into filming and editing videos and photography at that time, but found that they were things I couldn’t do on a regular basis. I ran a course of trying new things and figuring out which ones I could do that favored me time-wise and allowed me to totally express myself.

I’m self-taught too–I actually started out trying to make music in software that’s meant for editing videos (laughs). The internet has helped me out so much though; I don’t know what I would do without it.

BTR: Is anyone ever surprised to find out how young you are, given the intricacies of your songs?

AB: Yeah! I get a lot of messages from people who doubt my age.

BTR: How about your family, are they supportive of the music?

AB: They don’t really understand or listen to it, but they do support me in it, so I’m blessed!

BTR: You’re still in high school at the moment–do you plan on pursuing music in college or going an alternative route?

AB: Besides music, I love graphic design and animation, and I want to go to college for them.

BTR: On your Bandcamp you describe yourself as a “generally weird kid.” What are some of your favorite oddities?

AB: I do a lot of weird things but if I had to give you one that really stands out, it’d probably be eating lemons and limes raw–skin and all. I don’t do it as often now though; I learned that it hurts your teeth.

BTR: Do you play any instruments, or are you mostly rooted in electronic sampling?

AB: Between the ages of four and 14, I took vocal lessons for Indian classical music (Carnatic). I played the violin in middle school, but I never really got into it. I was really, really lazy, so I never practiced.

In the last few months though, I taught myself how to play the piano and it’s been my best friend. I synthesize everything from scratch, and I “play” drums on my computer keyboard using recorded samples. I really want to learn the guitar and drums, though.

BTR: What’s your creative process like?

AB: I usually start by trying to capture certain emotions or a certain feeling in some way, more often than not it happens with chords. From there, I go through a trial and error process of trying to portray that vibe as fully as I can.

BTR: While hip-hop is definitely a big part of your sound, jazz and ambient music are threads uniting everything together. Do you consider these to be influences?

AB: No doubt! If I had to name artists in particular it’d probably be The Robert Glasper Experiment, Taylor McFerrin, and The Roots. Not only do jazz and hip hop influence me, but a little bit of every genre does too.

BTR: If you could collaborate with anyone right now, who would it be?

AB: I don’t think I’m there yet, but if I could I would collaborate with IAMNOBODI, esta, or Taylor McFerrin.

BTR: So do you actually email people love letters if they support you in buying music?

AB: I really do (laughs). It’s crazy to me that someone would want to buy something that I made, and when someone actually does, it makes me feel so warm! Gotta return the love at least, you feel me?

To hear more from weirdinside, check out Ani’s Bandcamp, his SoundCloud, or BTR’s very own In the Den.