Interview: Surya chats future music, collective creativity, and lo-fi sonics...
Surya released 'Any Given Sunday' in February this year (listen below or on Soundcloud), a track made of lo-fi beats and filled with soul. Here's what Surya had to tell us about his creative approach and future plans...
BBC Radio listed you as one of their best new introducing artists in 2018, how would you like to see your music career develop and what can we expect from you in the future?
I would like to release my upcoming project Collage, grow my following, hopefully put some shows on in the post-COVID world and collaborate with other artists.
Being based in London and originally from Chennai, India, are there any current artists in those two local scenes that you particularly admire?
From the London scene, I’m into Richard Carter’s music. I’m not as well versed with the local scene in Chennai, the artists I admire from there have already crossed over to the mainstream.
Your contemporary style blends lo-fi beats and cosmic soul, what’s your creative approach to writing music?
I let my natural curiosity take control when picking sounds and genres. My approach is a little varied.
Sometimes an idea comes out of random experimentation, another time the song can be produced as a result of the mood I’m in. Alternatively, I go in with a specific theme in mind and try to create the best sonics for it.
With regards to lyrics, the production projects a certain mood which can be used to figure out the content of the song. I normally have an idea about the lyrical narrative as I am making the beat. When I get ideas for melody, I tend to mumble and I lay these rough vocal ideas down. When I then go back and listen to the mumbling, I start hearing words. I develop the lyrics from there.
Where did you learn your production skills and how do you finesse the practical or technical methods?
I played around with Digital Audio Workstations, and when faced with technical obstacles, I looked to YouTube videos to find resolutions to them.
You’ve previously said D’Angelo is a big influence and that “it’s a shame he isn’t known so much in mainstream media”, could you elaborate on that? Do you believe there is a lack of talent recognition in the charts or awards ceremonies?
I personally don’t go in looking for talent recognition from the charts because I don’t think it is meant for that purpose, it is a report on sales.
Whilst great music is very important in the selling of it, there are other components involved too, i.e. promotional budget, industry connections, etc. Chart performance, in my opinion, is indicative of the success of an artist and not always of the talent element.
I think award shows can be skewed by the popularity of acts because they have to attract viewership too.
Just to clarify on the D’Angelo comment, he’s won numerous awards, has the stats and widespread acclaim. He chose to withdraw from mainstream attention for other reasons.
Whilst I may, as a fan, wish that his music was cherished by the casual listener more, that may not be what he wants. In fact, if that was his aim in the first place, he might have been a different type of artist.
On your social channels you’ve mentioned the importance of collaboration with others and building communities or collectives, something we also value, what aspects of this approach appeal to you and why?
Collaborating with others and building communities is vital for creating the best work and becoming successful in the selling of it. Nothing great can be done by one person alone.
People have strengths in different areas, so if individuals can come together and work collectively, I really think it’s possible to achieve our individual goals and inspire a movement at the same time.
Who would your dream collaborators be, dead or alive?
The Neptunes, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Tribe, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, Childish Gambino, D’Angelo, I could go on but I’m going to stop myself.
Finally, what does the word “Groove” mean to you?
Something that makes me want to move.
Follow Surya on social media for updates and new music @surya_irisiver.