Tell us about your formal music training and how it helped you
I learnt Carnatic music and western classical piano as a child. Piano from age 5 to 15 and Carnatic was in high school and spilled over to college as well.
My Carnatic music training was from R.K Srikantan who is from the Rudrapatnam family. He was in his 90s when I learnt from him. He was one of the last remaining musicians from that golden era in Carnatic music who was still alive. It was an honour to learn from him.
What I take most from Srikantan sir is to give importance to music and I am lucky to be doing that now because my career revolves around music. When I was in school, he used to scold me for giving studies more importance than music which wasn’t even the case, I wasn’t even studious
Kiranavali Vidyasankar was my first serious carnatic music teacher. From Kiranavali I learned everything I know about Carnatic music; theory, compositions and how to improvise. I learned to love this music from her. She had this way of getting through to me when I didn’t appreciate carnatic music and she really helped to understand and relate to it.
Could you take us through your song writing process and what inspires you to write music?
I do not have one particular process. Every song has it’s own journey. I think, what inspires me the most to write songs is generally that I think about things, inner contemplations, thinking about society, things that affect all of us will be the basis of the song.
Some songs begin with a chord pattern on the piano, some with a vocal melody, some with the topic or the lyrics and all of the other elements fall into place.
I usually make a scratch of the vocal and the keys and then take it to my band. My guitarist is a great jazz musicians and he will give me ideas on how to change the chords and then the rhythm sections comes in and makes the song complete.
What does vocal health mean to you and how do you take care of your voice?
I am not probably the best singer to address that question. I don’t actually do anything special. I drink a lot of hot water, kashayams and things like that are what I take. So generally, before a gig, or during the gig, I take hot water, ginger and honey and that sort of keeps away from the throat getting dry. Keeping yourself hydrated is the most important thing.
What are some voice techniques that you have acquired recently?
I am also a part of Voctronica, which is an all vocal a’capella and beatbox band. So, through that project I have learnt a lot about different ways to use the voice. It is about trying to push boundaries with voice. We do a lot of instrument sounds like violin, guitar and trumpet vocally. Recently, we just discovered a new way of doing trumpet. Its all about using the air, your mouth pocket, shape of your mouth, it’s very interesting.
Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
There is a couple of parallel projects so I am not sure which one is going to be out first. But I am presently doing music for an Indie Hindi film and one of the songs I have written as part of the sequences is going to be released soon.
Separately, U am working on a new EP as well. It is very different from my earlier work.
Being a part of the digital era, how have you leveraged your platforms to reach out to your target audiences?
Nowadays, musicians have to also be an entrepreneur and it is very important to use your platforms because that is how we get work, and connect with our audience.
Instagram has been very useful in many different ways. One is that fans can directly write to you and it’s nice to read how your music has helped or touched someone.
The other is also marketing any of our gigs and releases just to get the word out.
Lot of opportunities have come be use people can write to you directly.
If there was one thing you would like to change about the Indie music scene in India, what would it be and why?
I think the most important one is that Indie musicians are not paid enough. Their value isn’t seen. The money is mainly for ones with star power like Bollywood.
In my opinion, Indie musicians are also putting in the same time and effort. Of course, it cannot be on the same level.
People should pay better, pay on time and not treat musicians like commodities that can be replaced. I think that exists a lot in values and spaces and I think that should change.
Your best performance till date
Last year, we played in Sri Lanka in April and it was on a big stage by the sea and you could hear the ocean between songs and silences. Big crowd!
I had also quit my day job and it was my first gig outside India. It was a special one.
Artist you would love to collaborate with
If not music, what would you be doing
Maybe something involving writing or film making
Favourite food item
I am a big foodie! I’d say curd rice and rasam.
The most difficult song you’ve written
The ones that are coming up are slightly more difficult that what I have previously written.
When do your song ideas usually come to you?
When I am in the train or on the road
Dream venue to perform at
Red rocks in the US