Sooraj, a talented singer-songwriter from Mumbai, has had a long association with music. in fact, he started playing the keys and singing when he was only one and a half years old. Not many can boast of having done the same. He recently released a music video for his song ‘Nemesis’ that has been well received by music lovers across the country. We find out more about his journey so far and his plans for the future.
Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to pursue music?
I’ve been into music for as long as I can remember – I started playing the keys and singing at the age of one and a half, gave my Grade 8 keyboard exam (Trinity College London) at age six, and it’s been an upward journey from there – learning every instrument I could get my hands on, from the guitar to the drums, to the violin and the piano.
I guess a career in music wasn’t as much a decision, rather just going with the flow of things. Music isn’t just my passion, it’s way beyond that – it’s been an integral part of my life, and it’s defined (and continuing to define) who I am today.
How was the experience shooting for your latest music video? What is the song about?
Shooting for “Nemesis” was very interesting because the concept of the video was very different from the original idea behind the song. The song was originally a hate song (aimed at no one – I’ve actually never hated anyone as much as the song suggests) that took the typical clichés of love and turned them upside down and was about a fruitless search for acceptance, encountering a “nemesis” – a person who brings you down – at every attempt. The director/scriptwriter of the video, Anand Kamath, brought in the idea of a person being his own nemesis – and how he himself is responsible for his downfall, and that was a super interesting idea to work with. It was great fun shooting the video – the icing on the cake was having a body double to play the masked nemesis!
Do you have a routine to help you write songs?
Not particularly. It changes from song to song and also depends on the subject I’m writing on. But I do usually come up with a nice melody for a chorus first and see how that sounds in terms of mood for me to write lyrics. For me, the song-writing process starts with a good, catchy chorus or a strong title – that sets the tone of the whole song.
Musicians you look up to?
John Mayer, Ludwig van Beethoven, Thomas Newman (the film scorer), The Beatles, Ed Sheeran… the list goes on! And of course, the artistes in the independent scene in India such as Prateek Kuhad, Tejas Menon, Spud in the Box, Raghu Dixit, Blackstratblues…again, the list goes on!
What do you like to do when you are not jamming or performing?
A whole lot of things! I’m in the final year of my master’s degree in English from Mithibai College, Mumbai. I’m also a wildlife photographer and naturalist, and I travel a lot for that – from Ladakh to Kaziranga to Bharatpur to Nagarhole, and even Tanzania. I’m also an amateur astronomer and conduct sky watching sessions for kids. Apart from that, I’m into theatre, am an aviation buff, and an everyday nerd who loves Star Wars, Pokemon, Game of Thrones, F.R.I.E.N.D.S and all your regular pop culture. Oh and I love puns, and try and post one every night, under the hashtag #punnightstands
What plans for 2017? What can fans expect?
I’m mainly focusing on writing and recording new material for my debut LP (which is yet to be named), and hopefully finish it up by the end of this year. Apart from that, I’m a professional busker (street musician) with an organisation called the Natural Streets for Performing Arts (NSPA) – so I’ll be performing hour-long acoustic sets nearly every month around the city of Mumbai at public venues. Oh and of course, trying to land gigs at other popular venues in and out of the city – both acoustic sets and with my five-piece band setup, “Sooraj and The Shades.”
As told to Meeta Borah
Photo Credit: Chintan Parekh