Student Art Spotlight: Riyaan Mendiratta


Photo courtesy of Sebastian Tulin

A red-tinted polaroid of Riyaan Mendiratta acts as the album cover for his new record, “Wallflower.” It was released on Jan. 6, 2023, and it can be streamed on popular music platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and more under the name RYIN.

By George Chang, Arts Editor

WCHS sophomore Riyaan Mendiratta communicates with melodies and harmonies: synths that swirl and oscillate, guitar licks that are paired with fragile vocals, reverb-drenched bass that pulsates to the beat. His unique approach toward music is best exemplified in his newest project, “Wallflower.”

“[Wallflower] is about the metaphorical flower: they bud, blossom and wilt off, and that’s a perfect analogy for how people grow,” Mendiratta said. “High school is about growing into a new version of yourself, about the chaos that goes along in your mind and how it could be beautiful yet disturbing at the same time. I tried to reflect that in these songs because there are really calm and really aggressive moments.”

For Mendiratta, music has been an intrinsic part of his life since an early age. Throughout the years, he has been developing and honing his skill and passion for the craft.

“One of my first memories was when I was three years old—I was banging plastic IKEA bowls in my parent’s bedroom while they were sleeping, pretending I was playing the drums. Though they obviously got mad at me, they saw my interest and I started learning piano when I was five,” Mendiratta said. “When I was 10 years old, I started hearing layers of harmonies and musical ideas in my mind that I couldn’t express through the piano. That was when I started experimenting with different production software.”

That playful flair permeates through Mendiratta’s artistic process. Instead of following a rigorous schedule, he prefers to create music as an outlet to relax and process emotions.

“When I first started creating music, it would be because there is an earworm melody stuck in my head. I would go into my software and try to transcribe it there, even if it sounds terrible,” Mendiratta said. “But now, I think it’s more about lyrics. I didn’t pay much attention to them until I started cope-writing in 2021, and I realized that these lyrics are helping people and giving them a voice. That’s when I started using them to help myself and others: whenever I’m feeling stressed or uncomfortable, I’ll just write until a rhyme scheme naturally develops.”

This turn to lyricism has also encouraged Mendiratta to discuss sensitive topics like mental health, death and unrequited love within his work. Subsequently, he also holds the responsibility to explore them in a careful and compassionate manner.

“A lot of people come to those albums for those vulnerabilities. There’s always a lesson learned in every song, centering around these universal emotions of the fear of growing up, being wronged and not being loved back,” Mendiratta said. “I think people take away feelings of comfort and support. The day school ended [last year], somebody told me that ‘you put into words what I couldn’t say,’ and that truly made my heart warm. It’s a mutual exchange of love.”

In a way, growth as a person and growth as a musician go hand-in-hand. Mendiratta’s real-life experiences in the past years have resulted in insightful reflection and creative inspiration.

“I am definitely not the same person I used to be. Moving to Potomac during the beginning of [the COVID-19 pandemic] forced me to think about who I am and who I want to be,” Mendiratta said. “The music always got me, though. It allowed me to develop a sense-of-self. A lot of people see me as the guy who makes music or the guy that made a mistake, and that perception will always be there—people will identify you as something else—but I’m more confident in myself and my purpose.”

With Mendiratta’s success as an indie artist, he’s joining an inventive group of artists, musicians and creators that make up WCHS’ burgeoning art scene.

“I think there’s more support for Churchill artists now. I used to feel alienated or singled-out, but there are so many great artists that are popping up [at WCHS], and it’s getting to a point where anybody can make or play music at school,” Mendiratta said. “Our community is finally comfortable with sharing our voices.”

Check out his music on Spotify, Apple Music and more under the name RYIN.