INTERVIEW: Supriya Nagarajan

Hi Supriya, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I have been well thank you. Coping with the changed circumstances by making more music.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “On the Banks of Jamuna”?

On the banks of the Jamuna is the last track on our album Dusk Notes which I co created with composer Duncan Chapman. It is the track that captures the evocative spiritual nature of the CD. I set out to make music that crosses boundaries and creates a mindful space in these difficult times and the final track encapsulates the mood leaving listeners refreshed and relaxed.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The lyrics are written by Swatithirunal a popular South Indian musician who was also the King of the State of Kerala. I just adapted it for this album.

Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?

Yes, there is video that captures the subtlety of the track which will be released on Friday.

The single comes off your new album Dusk Notes – what’s the story behind the title?

Dusk Notes, the album, was inspired by the beauty of the Derbyshire Peaks, the river Jamuna in India and an image of the setting sun on a winter evening with the silvery moon just rising and seen behind the bare trees. My work is rooted in synesthesia where my music responds to the meeting of senses and therefore the raga’s or melodies I selected, the sounds that Duncan Chapman worked with and the tempo of the pieces all come back to that sensory amalgamation that forms the core of my music.

How was the recording and writing process?

I introduced two poems into the mix to provide that interval/bridge between melodies. Almost like the calm before the storm in a way, but a gentle storm this time. The recording was done with producer Mark Mynett at University of Huddersfield, who did a fantastic job mixing and mastering the pieces.

What role does India play in your music?

South Indian classical music is at the core of my practice. The genre is to me, like the letters of the alphabet that we use to create words, phrases and stories. I like to think and work outside the box and so tend to use my basic “music alphabets” to write  new language, Therefore my music does not sit in any defined genre but listeners will identify the distinctive Indian notes which is at the heart of my music..

How has Jarvis Cooker influenced your writing?

Being invited to launch BE KINDER a National Trust project by Jarvis Cocker and Jeremy Deller led to the creation of Dusk Notes. The reception to my voice and Duncan’s sounds inspired us to plan, devise and now finally release the album. So I would say the encouragement and opportunity came from Jarvis and Jeremy.

What made you want to release an album based on the dusk saga?

Dusk is my favourite time of the day and the raga’s or melodies sung at dusk  as per the Indian Raga system are my favourite  ones so it just came naturally to focus my music in this direction as inspiration came quickly.

What aspect of it did you get to explore on this record?

I have gone back to the basics of how raga’s are used according to the time of the day and have chosen those melodies that resonate with the image of a quiet, contemplative dusk setting

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Each piece on the album is carefully thought out and placed. As for the poetry, I wrote that whilst sitting underneath a huge oak tree one evening on the Derbyshire Peaks last summer. I encouraged my husband to join me on a 100 mile round trip from our house to Edale in the peaks where the BE Kinder project was located so that I could be inspired to write the works that would feature in the album.

What else is happening next in Supriya Nagarajan’s world?

I am currently working on my ‘Sound of Tea’ project. The core idea being, we can see, taste and smell tea but how does an Oolong or a Darjeeling sound? This project was scheduled to tour in 2020 but COVID means I have re-purposed the work to make a video album of the eight pieces in this production. Watch this space…

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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