Student Spotlight: Tyesha Kohli
What’s it like to study at Berklee? Our Student Spotlight series asks current students all about their Berklee experience—what they’re learning in class, what kinds of projects they’re involved in onstage or behind the scenes, how they recharge, and of course, what they’re listening to. This week, get to know Tyesha Kohli, a sixth-semester voice principal from New Delhi, India, pursuing a bachelor's degree in professional music with a minor in the business of live music.
Tell us about your path to Berklee. What made you decide to come here?
Music was a huge part of my upbringing, and there wasn't really anything else that I felt competent in growing up. I thought I was one of the lucky ones who had realized their true passion very early on in life, and I knew that music was going to be a big part of my future, but I didn't know how. Berklee was a distant dream, and it started seeming more impossible when I became a philosophy student at University of Delhi. After graduating in 2017, I started my career officially as a recording and performing artist. I collaborated with many other fellow independent artists to grow and learn, while also working on my solo projects. Soon enough, in 2018, Women of the World, a renowned a cappella group that emerged out of the Berklee community, flew to Delhi for a week-long workshop and offered us a chance to audition for the school at the end of that glorious week. Things started looking up when I got my acceptance in 2019, but due to financial constraints I simply couldn't afford to go, so I had to turn it down. From then on, I continued my journey as a songwriter and worked on my musicianship thinking Berklee was never going to happen. But in the beginning of 2020, I received an email from the admissions office stating that my admission is still valid in case I want to join. I took that as a sign from the universe and started working out the costs with the support of my family. Unfortunately, only a couple months later, COVID-19 hit and the entire world came to a standstill. And yet again, the Berklee dream fell out of reach. After a lot of serious contemplation, debate, and inner conflict, I decided to enroll remotely as part of the fall 2020 batch, and the trajectory of my career hasn't been the same. During my first two virtual semesters alone I met several people I could look up to, made new friends, and spoke to inspiring professors. I couldn't wait to actually be in Boston and experience it all in real life. As things slowed down in 2021, project "Del2Bos" was in full motion. I packed up my bags and savings and moved to the very cold East Coast to attend my first in-person semester in fall 2021. My journey to Berklee has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, and I'm sure my journey post graduation will be nothing less, too.
What's been your favorite class so far, and what has it taught you?
I've had some amazing classes and professors in the short time I've been at Berklee. But the ones that stick out the most are Advanced DAW for Songwriters taught by Valerie Orth and Forensic Musicology taught by Joe Bennett. During the former, I was just excited to learn about production from a female artist, and professor Orth's method of teaching and amazing attitude towards the class only exceeded my expectations in the end. On the other hand, professor Bennett was teaching one of the most interesting courses offered at Berklee, and the amount of knowledge he imparted to us with his warm personality proved to be an overall great experience.
Watch Tyesha's music video for her song "Midnight Lover":
What's a project you've worked on since coming to Berklee that you've been especially excited about?
I've been lucky to be a part of several iconic projects during my time at Berklee, and they make me so excited for the future. Just last fall, I was chosen as a background vocalist to be in my first Singers Showcase concert, which was a tribute to the music of Sting and the Police. During the same semester, I was interning under two amazing women entrepreneurs who run a global collaborative app called el3ment. Right before that, I was awarded a full scholarship to attend the first-ever in-person She Knows Tech seminar, which gave me the opportunity to mingle with some incredible women in the music business. I have also loved recording my own songs in the iconic Berklee studios with some extremely talented peers. Currently, I'm looking forward to visiting Nashville during the spring break as part of the annual industry trips offered by the school.
How do you typically recharge or find new ideas outside of class?
Sometimes when I'm feeling a little drained out creatively, I like to take small breaks for myself outside of classes and spend a few hours doing absolutely nothing. And then I hang out with my friends or work with them on their projects. It helps me a lot by taking the focus away from my workload and regaining some of my energy.
When you think towards your own future, who inspires you most?
I have met some of the most inspirational people at Berklee. From professors to peers, there's been so much to learn from all of them. When I think of my future as a Berklee graduate, I think of all the important lessons, advice, and friends I have gained. Moreover, I find a special gratitude towards my internship employers who graciously provided me with valuable insights into the current music industry.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to your high school self?
It's okay to lose yourself in the crowd at times when you're trying to learn and grow as a person. You will find your way, even if it takes a while. And it's okay to mess up!
Tyesha's Five Favorite Songs Right Now
1. "Kill Bill," SZA
One of the best choruses I've heard in a long time; the whole song is melodically and lyrically rich.
2. "Make It Better," Anderson .Paak ft. Smokey Robinson
The groove just gets me every single time; such a smart creation.
3. "Love Again," Daniel Caesar ft. Brandy
This composition gives me goosebumps, and their voices go so well together. Simply gorgeous writing, too.
4. "Love Like This," el3ment, Ceddyjay, Courtnie, Dayne Carter
This song was on the first EP el3ment put together as part of a huge songwriting camp between several writers and producers, and it's my favorite one.
5. "Cry,Die,Fly," Drew ofthe Drew
One of my all-time favorite songs; so versatile and dynamic!