Week 1 (and an interview with the artist)

Roshan Ruprai is a 22 year old artist from London. Having honed his craft in the Cambridge music/art scene, he presents honest reflections on grief and mental health through his rap and poetry. His last release ‘Bulletproof’ was featured at the Breast Cancer Art Project and Fruitfly Collective’s Tate Modern exhibition in April 2019.

Today, the 30th Jan 2021, Roshan releases his new track ‘Week 1’, which marks one year from the passing of his mother to breast cancer. Below we have spoken to Roshan about his music, the visuals by the talented filmmaker Zoe Black and the inspiration behind it.

Adriana: Tell us about Week 1 – what is it about, what are you expressing through your music?  

Roshan: ‘Week 1’ is a raw and honest portrayal of my grief in the early days after my mum passed away last year from Breast Cancer. I’m expressing what I was going through at the time and what I saw my family going through: the paperwork, the shock, your mind playing tricks on you.

Mum passed away just before the pandemic and so, as an Indian family, we still had many, many visitors paying respects. It prevented loneliness and provided memories but at the same time I felt there was a need for space. Of course everyone is different, this song is just my grief.

I guess the song is also an expression of gratitude as much as it is of grief. I never intend to write about any subject but naturally through the process of writing I ended up thanking mum for shaping us kids into the people we are today and for always being selfless in her love. I was encouraged when I wrote that down.

I feel that you can’t have grief without some form of love, ‘Week 1’ is an attempt to depict both.

Adriana: What is the meaning and significance of the title of the track, ‘Week 1’?

Roshan: The title reflects that it’s a real snapshot of how I felt exactly one week after my mum passed away. It was written and recorded in around an hour and was recorded on my phone! I didn’t want to do any more vocal takes even with better gear.

Its immediacy was very important to me, I didn’t want to hide any imperfections.

I hope that this piece can help people who are grieving and by being bare and honest, I felt that people might be able to better connect with it.

Adriana: The spoken introduction by your mother at the start of the track was especially moving – somehow, so naturally, I think she perfectly captured the absolute essence of a mother’s love. Can you tell me a little about her, what was she like?

Roshan: I know the readers can’t see me right now, but they should know I’m smiling thinking about this question!

She was completely remarkable. She always had belief that things would improve, which I think was the cornerstone to her worldview. She was always willing to make sacrifices for those she loved and she was completely selfless for her family. Deeply spiritual and infinitely wise, I think I’ll be hard-pressed to meet someone I can learn as much from in my life.

I know not everyone gets along well with their mum, so I’m just thankful that we were able to have our extraordinary mum and have the opportunity to learn from her for as long as we did.

Adriana: How important has music been to you as a way of coping with your mother’s breast cancer and her passing?

Roshan:  I think over time the music and creative process has become almost a necessity for me, I find it a great tool for healing. In ‘Week 1’ I think I rap the line ‘after every verse, I’m convinced we heal’ and that says it all really.

As I said earlier I never plan to write about a subject but when I feel the need I just say what comes naturally. It was the same with ‘Bulletproof’, our last release, which was written after mum’s terminal diagnosis.

I think the unplanned approach has two effects: my lyrics are always a true reflection of what’s on my mind and I discover things about myself and how I process.

The fact that both ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘Week 1’ start off depicting the emotional hardship and end with gratitude is evidence of that healing process I think, as well as how writing helps focus on my mind on what matters.

Adriana: Thank you, Roshan, for sharing your inspiring music with us. It’s so important that loved ones of those with breast cancer, and of course other serious illness, also have a space to share their experiences and emotions. Whilst it is mostly, although not exclusively, women who get breast cancer, there are sons, husbands and partners, fathers, brothers, who love those women, and who are impacted too, sometimes devastatingly. So, thank you again for sharing your music with the Breast Cancer Art Project, it’s an honour. Can we look forward to some further tracks in the future?

Roshan: Thank you for the kind words and for the opportunity Adriana, the Breast Cancer Art project is an amazing place for breast cancer sufferers and others affected to express themselves. I am constantly inspired by and in awe of the submissions I see! And personally, BCAP has played a formative role for me in my artistic life.

I think we’ll be able to see some more tracks in the future and maybe even a longer form project. For now we’ll be selling sweatshirts in aid of St. Christopher’s Hospice, in which mum was a patient before she passed. Raising money for the hospice will be my sole focus in the short term!

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