Singer-songwriter and composer Sooraj Santhosh has had quite the journey as an artist in the South Indian film industry. From being the lead vocalist of Masala Coffee to forming his band, Sooraj has found a voice that represents the person he is. We’ve seen him grow and experiment with music that has garnered a new audience.
Like many of us here, we’re excited to watch them perform live at IndieGaga in Kochi on the 21st of January. We chatted quickly with Sooraj Santhosh, and you might want to check this conversation out.
Given that you’re an acclaimed mainstream playback singer, what motivates you to pursue independent music? Is there a larger vision or goal while doing the same?
I have always wanted to produce original music. That’s where I can truly express myself as an artist. All I want to convey about various things in life is done through my music. Independent music gives me complete freedom; I can create music how I want.
Even though I am into playback singing, I enjoy making and performing my music. Ultimately I want to be a part of musical productions/projects that I can relate to. So making independent music satisfies me, and I would continue doing it no matter what.
As someone who has seen success in film/playback singing and independent music, which of the two zones do you think is harder to succeed in?
I have never thought about success. It has always been about doing what I wanted to do. When I started my career in music, I was confused and had no clear idea about what I wanted. As time passed, I found solace in making my music. I was also doing playback sessions simultaneously. Both are different in many ways, and I enjoy both. Success is more about being a better person than I was yesterday.
While creating the multi-lingual EP ‘The Gypsy Sun’, were there any changes you brought to a song musically once you had decided it was in a particular language?
The Gypsy Sun has five songs in different languages. Each of these songs deals with five different topics I wanted to convey. I chose the language accordingly. Along with my producer Varkey, I have been working on the musical arrangements since we started working on the album. We tried multiple arrangements for each song. Finally, we ended up producing something that we both liked. Making the EP from scratch to the final output was a long journey that I thoroughly enjoyed. A journey filled with new learnings, meeting various people, travel, reading, research, companionship, struggle, love, and so much more.
We’ve rarely seen artists do their version of a popular song, only to once again do another (musically, lyrically different) version a few years later. This is, of course, about “Aalayal Thara Venda”. How did you get the confidence that a second revamped version would work with the masses?
Aalayal Thara Venam is a song we all grew up listening to. But there are so many things wrong with it at so many levels. Along with Shruthi Sharanyam, I have broken down the old song and restructured it. We are questioning every stereotype and every ‘truth’ that has been passed down blindly through generations.
Also, I regret singing Aalaayal Thara Venam all these years since that song is wrong on so many levels. And when I participated in the CAA protest in Thrissur, one of the protestors asked me about the same that paved the way to ‘ Aalayal Thara Venda ‘.
I genuinely wanted to start a discourse about it. I wanted people to think about it, talk about it. Aalayal Thara Venda!
What’s the best part of performing a live set?
I love everything about performing live. That’s where you have people right in front of you and get instant reactions from them. I take energy from them and believe I give it back to them. All the musicians/ performers who perform live – love the ‘High’ we get from each live performance, and we keep doing it, craving more of it.
How excited are you to perform at IndieGaga? What are you looking forward to at the event? And which band/musicians are you excited to start a conversation with there?
My band members and I are all super excited to perform for IndieGaga and can’t wait to perform our music there. Also looking forward to catching up with everyone (not just bands/musicians) who will be there.
How’s 2023 looking for you?
2023 is going to be fabulous, I think. Even though life is a perpetual conflict, it’s been peaceful. Let’s see what 2023 has in store for us.
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