April 17, 2012
It’s the afternoon before her San Francisco band’s namesake holiday, April Fool’s Day, and Rupa Marya is taking a lunch break from preparations for Rupa and the April Fishes’ upcoming bicycle concert tour. Marya woke up early this morning to alter her bike to haul not just her but her music gear 200 miles over nine days this month.
“That meant taking the wheel off and adding this extension,” said the leader of the multicultural amalgam April Fishes as she pointed to a newly installed metal frame extension to her baby blue bicycle. “I also had to extend the back bike gear cable.” Marya knew nothing about altering bicycles; she picked it up at the nonprofit Bike Kitchen in the Mission, where instructors teach others how to repair their own bicycles. “Someone sat there with me and taught me how to do cabling – it was totally amazing to learn,” she said.
The desire to learn has pulled Marya for most of her life, not just musically, but in her other career as a doctor. It’s also the reason she wanted to trek around the Bay on a bike – to explore the connection people have with the history, wildlife and culture here.
Marya was born in the U.S. to Indian parents. When she was 4, she and her brother were temporarily sent to India to live with their grandparents while their parents struggled financially in the Bay Area. When she was 10, her parents moved the family to France. She now speaks four languages: English, French, Hindi and Spanish.
After moving back to the Bay Area, Marya studied medicine. In her spare time she performed solo with her guitar at coffee houses, art galleries and on the streets of the Mission. After one of these shows, in 2006, cellist Ed Baskerville convinced her to rehearse with him and later to start the April Fishes. The lineup now includes drummer Aaron Kierbel, cellist Misha Khalikulov, trumpet player Mario Alberto Silva and bassist Safa Shokrai.