Sowmya Krishnamurthy: Music Journalist and Pop Culture Expert

Born: In Kolkata, India. I moved to America when I was 6 months old. Shoutout to my fellow immigrants.
Educational Background: I graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Go Blue!
Current Computer/Mobile Device: I got the iPhone 8 and felt cool for about 10 seconds until Apple dropped 10 new phones.

Sowmya Krishnamurthy’s desktop: This pretty much sums up my life and assignments right now.”

What do you do for a living?

I’m a music journalist and pop culture expert. I get to interview rappers like J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Uzi Vert, A$AP Rocky, etc. and get paid for it (sometimes while in my pajamas!) It’s pretty great.

What do you love most about your work?

I get paid to be myself.

When was the last time you tried something new? What was it?

I was profiling NBA trainer Chris Brickley for High Snobiety this summer, and he asked me to take a ginger shot. I liked it; it tastes like burning.

What is your most significant accomplishment? Is there anything you hope to do even greater?

As a first-generation immigrant, I wasn’t brought up to dream big. A lot of people I know live the life their parents or the community wants and expects of them: become a doctor (or engineer as Plan B), marry someone your parents like; the end. My most significant accomplishment is that I live my own life. I live on my terms.

How do you keep track of what you’ve done?

I had a mentor who told me a long time ago to take photos; I try to with everyone I interview. It doesn’t always happen, but I try.

Who do you most admire in your field?

I love reading Justin Tinsley at The Undefeated, Amos Barshad (we lived in the same dorm in college, and he was one of my first editors at New York Magazine), Jon Caramanica at The New York Times is the OG of artist profiles, Craig Jenkins at New York Magazine, who did an amazing piece on Mac Miller.

What are your favorite apps/tools that help you do what you do?

If I have my iPhone Voice Memos, Olympus recorder and microphone and MacBook Air, I can pretty much take over the world. Twitter is also hugely important as a journalist to stay on top of news and to see what my friends are doing.

When you make sacrifices for your work, do you tell people or keep it to yourself?

When I was an intern at Bad Boy Records, the guys there taught me very early on to move in a certain way. I don’t believe in sharing my business or playing the victim or martyr. In the words of Justin Timberlake, “cry me a river.”

What do you do to recharge yourself?

I love to sleep in when I can. My body needs 10 hours to be honest. I also love to get back to nature which isn’t easy living in Manhattan, but I live by the water and take long walks.

What was your childhood dream?

I thought I’d be a teacher or lawyer.

What’s been on your mind most lately?


For what are you most grateful?

Growing up as a kid in Kalamazoo, Michigan, it seemed impossible that I’d move to New York City and work in a job that I loved. I used to read bylines of great music journalists in Vibe, XXL, MTV News and The Source. Now, I’m able to inspire other young people, especially women, to go for their dreams.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

Growing up, Diddy influenced me. I love that he dreams big and goes for it. Whether he succeeds or not, he leaves everything on the field.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’m a huge fan of The Simpsons. I’ve watched every episode–with commentary–and follow the show’s writers and producers on social media. I’ve done Simpsons trivia, even though the whole team was just me. I also have a personalized, signed poster from Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa. One of my lifelong dreams is to voice a character, even if it’s a terrible cameo like Poochie the Dog.

What inspires you?

I love a challenge and can’t run on cruise control. I always have the itch to do more and to challenge myself.

What scares you most?

Not reaching my full potential.

What do you feel your impact is on those around you? What would you like it to be?

I’m the consigliere. My friends and family know I listen and give great advice. It’s a role I love.

Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a while? If so, what is it and why haven’t you?

I’ve done a lot of expert commentary for NPR, SiriusXM, the BBC, etc. and I’d love to have a radio show. After launching my podcast, Shot Callers, I think the time is right to move into radio.

Where is your favorite place?

Bed. My bed.

If you could take a one-month trip anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go and what would you do?

India. I was born there and used to visit as a kid. I’d love to spend more time there–maybe brush up on my Tamil.

In conversation do you tend to talk or listen more?

I get paid to run my mouth all day. I’m a talker.

What are you looking for when you have a conversation with someone? What topics do you want to discuss?

I treat every conversation like a special experience and don’t have topics or talking points beforehand. I let the conversation flow. All I want is honesty. Keep it 1000.

What topic(s), if any, do you consider too personal to ask an interview subject?

There’s nothing too personal. I’ve talked to people about their childhoods, falling in love, sexual experiences, etc. But timing is key. You don’t go in and start with the MOST personal question. Let the chemistry build and the conversation flow naturally.

If you were guaranteed honest answers to two questions, what would you ask and to whom?

I’d ask the CEO of Coca-Cola for the secret recipe because that’s worth something. Then, maybe the Dalai Lama how to attain happiness. With those two things, I’m good.

What piece of literature has influenced you the most?

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. She has this beautiful and poignant way of explaining the Indian American experience that I can’t put into words.

What are you currently reading or is the last book you read?

I subscribe to a ton of magazines (Long live print!) and I’ve been bugging out over the sex robots piece in New York Magazine. I swear, we’re getting closer to Black Mirror every day.

What is the most exciting thing you’ve read online recently?

The Miami New Times’ profile on XXXTentacion and his alleged victim is an incredibly difficult and important read. I love that a weekly, local publication got the story and a young, woman journalist covered it.

Who is your favorite person to follow on social media?

Social media can be such a clusterfuck of negativity and drama (Thanks, Donald Trump!) I love Idil Ahmed (@Idillionaire) who seems to magically tweet the exact inspiration I need at any given moment.

Do you have a favorite restaurant? If so, what is it?

Choosing a favorite restaurant is like picking your favorite kid. I’m not a parent, but I imagine it’s similar agony. Shake Shack (the original one in Madison Square Park) is probably my favorite. I can body 3000 calories there easily.

What is your favorite comfort food?

Peanut butter and jelly, like Mom used to make. Wheat bread. Crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jelly. Diagonally sliced. Always, diagonally sliced.

What is your favorite food to prepare?

I’m a good cook, but some days, spaghetti and a good pasta sauce (out of a jar) are all I want.

What is a song, album or playlist that everyone should hear?

The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die.

When is the last time you cried and why?

Watching the movie Lion. I was born in the same city the main character, Saroo, gets lost in, Kolkata. Without giving too much away, that movie is a punch in the gut.

What has been your biggest disappointment in life, and how did you handle it?

I believe that I am where I’m meant to be. Every editor who rejected a story, an audition that led to nothing and every job offer that I didn’t get; these happened for a reason. I don’t have disappointments.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

Most of my tattoos have been spur-of-the-moment. I woke up and decided to get ink that day.

What do you wish you spent more time doing five years ago?

Nurturing personal relationships. I was all work and no play. I’m trying to find more balance.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Relax. Everything will work out.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

How do you define success, and do you consider yourself successful by that definition?

Being able to look at yourself in the mirror and like who looks back. Yes, I still talk to myself in the mirror. It’s something I’ve done since I was a kid.

What is happiness to you?

Being Zen.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

Forever 21.

Do you have a mantra or quote that guides your life?

“To thine own self be true.” It’s from Shakespeare, but I learned about it years ago when I read that it was Whitney Houston’s favorite quote. I have no clue if that’s true, but it’s still a great philosophy to have.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a dope girl who kicked down any door in her way.

Is there a question you wish we had asked? If so, what is it, and what is your answer to it?

Boxers or briefs? I’m a fan of guy’s boxers to wear around the house. Also, kind of love A$AP Rocky as the face of Calvin Klein underwear this season.

Who would you like to answer these questions?

My future husband.

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